Sixteenth-Century Book of Hours Printed on Vellum, with Forty-Nine Large and Thirty Smaller Hand-Painted Miniatures
BOOK OF HOURS. Heures de nostre dame a l'usage de Paris. Paris: [Par Jacques Kerver] , 1561.
Printed on vellum. Octavo (6 7/8 x 4 1/4 inches; 175 x 110 mm). With Calendar. With eight large oval illuminated miniatures in the calendar, forty-one full page miniatures, some with borders, and some without for a total of forty-nine large miniatures. And with thirty smaller miniatures in the text of saints and other holy figures. With 171 of 184 leaves. Text leaves after calendar are numbered XV- CLCCCI, and the 14 previous leaves not numbered. Of these 14 preliminary and calendar leaves, present copy is lacking A1-A5, (Title-page, next page and the months January-April). Also lacking B6 (the calendar facing the miniature for December). Text pages lacking leaves D2, I7, K7, V1, and Z6-8. Text ruled in red. Numerous illuminated one and two-line initial heightend in gold with alternating red and blue backgrounds. Miniatures are beautifully hand-colored and heightened in gold. Some of the large miniatures have architectural borders. We could find no copy of this at auction. Title, date and publisher based on Lacombe 453-454.

Early French red morocco. Rebacked with spine laid down. Boards triple-ruled in gilt. Spine elaborately stamped in gilt. Board edges gilt. Gilt dentelles. All edges gilt. Marbled pastedown endpapers. Front free endpaper with a small oval illumination on vellum of flaming heart, invisibly tipped in (not part of the miniature count). Front pastedown with small leather bookplate of famous book collector W.A. Foyle, Beeleigh Abbey. Back pastedown with bookseller sticker of W. & G. Foyle LTD. Overall a beautiful example of a French printed book of hours with more illuminated miniatures than usually seen.

Printer Jacques Kerver was the son of well known printer Thielman Kerver who left his business to his wife and then son Jacques. "Thielman Kerver was a highly successful Parisian publisher, whose business continued for generations within his family. In the early 16th century, he published several Books of Hours that conceptually followed the segmented border format used in the manuscript shown nearby. For him, the advantage lay in making small metal printing plates that could be recombined and reused. The plates were attached to wooden blocks to make them the same height as the type for the text. The pictorial metalcuts are so densely overpainted that it is hard to see that the images are printed. Kerver inked his types in both red and black in emulation of manuscript text. The main type font, however, is very different from French manuscripts of a few years earlier and signals a shift in orientation from medieval monasticism to renaissance humanism." (Minneapolis Institute of Art).

"Miniatures were a large part of the appeal of the Book of Hours, the bestselling book in the Middle Ages. It should not come as a surprise, therefore, that some of the earliest printed Books of Hours are illustrated with woodcuts and metalcuts that were overpainted in imitation of miniatures. These hybrid books demonstrate how the new technologies of printing were used to complement-rather than rival or replace- traditional methods of artistic production. Books of Hours (or Horae, from the Latin for "hours") get the name from the Hours of the Virgin: a set of devotional texts, usually in Latin, that in monastic practice are recited at the eight canonical hours of the day. Typically, each of the canonical hours has an image of a significant event in the life of the Virgin Mary: Annunciation (matins), Visitation [visit to Elizabeth] (lauds), Nativity [birth of Jesus] (prime), Annunciation to the shepherds (terce), Adoration of the Magi (sext), Presentation [purification in the temple] (none), Flight into Egypt (vespers), and the Coronation [Mary's coronation in heaven by Jesus] (compline). A number of other texts contained in the Horae (including a calendar, gospel readings, Office for the Dead, and prayers to saints), as well as the page borders, often incorporated images. At the turn of the sixteenth century, Parisian printers greatly expanded the market for Horae. Because of the costly materials and, especially, the skilled labor of scribes and illuminators, manuscript Books of Hours were too expensive for most people. Luxury editionsówritten on large, fine sheets of vellum and illuminated by established artistsówere the reserve of royalty and the wealthiest religious institutions. With the advent of the printing press, Books of Hours became accessible to the members of the professional, merchant, and artisan classes." (The Mass-Produced Original: Printed Books of Hours. Maureen Ward).

Bohatta 354. Brunet. Lacombe 453-454.

HBS # 68705 $35,000

We are performing maintenance to our online inventory system, you may encounter occasional errors, please inquire about this item to obtain a complete description.