Les Enluminures


Book of Hours (unidentified use)
In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
France, Paris or the Loire Valley (Tours?), c. 1525
12 large and 6 small miniatures from the Circle of Etienne Collault

Full-fledged Renaissance paintings adorn this Book of Hours. They are surrounded by extravagant painted architectural frames that imitate the ornate wood and stucco carvings found in chateaux of the period. The painter worked for the King and the court, and he signed a Book of Hours made in Paris. Even the elegant rounded script – imminently readable to the modern viewer -- represents a clear break with the Gothic style. The arms of the patron, consisting of symbols that tradesmen used, appear twice in the manuscript and signal the emergence of the merchant class as discerning patrons of art.

II + 18 [medieval] on parchment + 26 [later] on paper (watermark Briquet 4436, Brabant, 1580) and parchment leaves, foliated in pencil in the upper right corner, 1-54, first section bound out of order to compose an album of full-page pictures and text, with ff. 3-20, written in a in a bâtarde with humanistic features on 19 long lines in dark brown ink, ff. 21-48v written in a cursive later 16th c. script in pale brown ink, rubrics in blue, ruled in red (justification 99 x 46 mm.), versals and 2-line initials in liquid gold on alternating blue and burnt orange grounds, with 6 small miniatures, with trompe l’oeil gold frames (c. 40 x 30 mm.) and 12 full-page miniatures of which one is by William Caleb Wing, the nineteenth-century illuminator (and forger), most but not all miniatures blank on reverse, in very good fresh condition, second section written 16th century and later with added texts, mostly in Latin, with French titles, in cursive, on 17 unruled long lines in brown ink (justification c. 110 x 70 mm.). Bound in c. 19050 by Zaehnsdorf, London, signed lower turn-in of upper cover in gilt capitals “Bound by Zaehnsdorf London England”), in blue goatskin, tooled in gold, upper and lower covers framed in three fillets, with four corner decorations, all gilt, spine in six compartments, with five raised bands, inscribed second compartment in gilt capitals “Heures,” other compartments, floral tool, gilt, edges trimmed and gilt, in lovely fresh condition throughout. Dimensions 137 x 88 mm.


  1.  The incomplete text means that the Use of the Hours of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead cannot be identified. Nor is there a calendar present in the manuscript. Nevertheless, the saints included in the suffrages point to Paris, and they include St. Genevieve, St. Claude, St. Denis, and St. Fiacre. The artist is likely Parisian or perhaps of Tours. St. Claude, bishop of Besançon, would point to the Franche-Comté, but the manuscript is not related stylistically to illumination from this region; perhaps Claude is favored in the manuscript because he was the patron’s name saint. The arms of the first owner occur twice in the manuscript: two back-to-back “C”s below a merchant’s mark (ff. 3v and 14v).
  2. Acquired c. 1944 or slightly before by Walter G. West against an overdue debt, and before 1944 the manuscript was apparently in the hands of a local auctioneer in Corsham, Wiltshire (see accompanying files). Having it bound by Zaehnsdorf, Walter gave it to his son Anthony James West (letter describing gift included). Two notes from Walter G. West to Anthony accompany the volume, one on August, 21, 1950, presenting the volume, and another on November, 11, 1954, describing how the volume was acquired. Acquired from the West family.


Section I:

ff. 3-3v, end of the Gospel Sequence of John, incipit, “Te invocamus te adoramus te laudamus” [antiphon];

ff. 3v-9, Suffrages, beginning St. Michael (f. 3v), St. John the Baptist (f. 4), St. John the Evangelist (f. 5), the Apostles, ending incomplete “In omnem terram …”; f. 6, incipit “O desolatorum consolatorum …” [antiphon for the suffrage to St. Claude]; St. Francis (f. 7v), St. Genevieve (f. 8), ends “beati iohannis apostolic tui et evangeliste illuminata … Deo gratias [end of Suffrage to John the Evangelist], followed by rubric at the bottom of the page, “Ad primam”;

f. 10, incipit, “… vultu suo. R. Deus in medio eius …” followed by “Adsit nobis, quaesumus Domine, virtus Spiritus Sancti [Hours of the Holy Spirit], followed by rubric at the bottom of the page, “Ad sextam”;

f. 11, incipit, “… sit filius veritatem. Per dominum. Oratio. Concede misericors…” [Hours of the Virgin, Lauds];

f. 12, incipit, “… et providentia gubernamur. Per. Oratio. Protege domine famulos tuos [Hours of the Virgin, Vespers], followed by the rubric at the bottom “Ad vesperas”;

f. 13, incipit, “… abstinentie pacientie humilitatis …” [Seven Last Words on the Cross], followed by rubric at the bottom of the page, “Sequuntur hore beate marie virginis”;

f. 14, incipit, “… exunt sonus eorum … Oratio. Protege domine populum tuum et apostolorum [Hours of the Virgin, Lauds], followed by rubric at the bottom of the page “De sancto Claudio”;

f. 15, “… concedas … Oratio. Fidelium deus omnium conditor,” followed by rubric at the bottom of the page “Sequuntur vigilie mortuorum antiph[ona]” [end of the Seven Penitential Psalms and beginning of the Office of the Dead];

f. 16, blank;

f. 17, blank;

f. 18, incipit, “… quid biberint non eis nocebit …,” followed by rubric at the bottom of the page “Passio domini nostri iesu xpi. Secundum iohannem” [end of the Gospel Lesson according to Mark];

f. 19, incipit, ”… ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi. Oratio. Deus qui salutis …” followed by rubric at the bottom of the page “Ad matutinas de cruce” [end of Hours of the Virgin, Matins, beginning Hours of the Cross, Matins];

f. 20, incipit, “ … de profundis clamavi. V[ersus]. Requiem eternam …” followed by rubric at the bottom of the page “De trinitate ant[iphona]” [Office of the Dead].

Section II:

ff. 21-27v, Hours of the Conception, with headings for six of the canonical hours, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline;

ff. 27v-29v, “Stabat mater”;

ff. 30-32, heading, “Sensuict la genealogie des trois maries …” ; incipit, “Trois seurs de noble lignage par ce nom marie nommees…”;

ff. 33-34, Seven prayers of St. Gregory, heading, “Les sept oraisons St Gregoire”;

ff. 34-35v, Oraison aux trespassez, “Avete omnes anime fideles…” [Prayer to the Dead];

ff. 35v-38, Miscellaneous prayers in Latin, with French headings, including Oraison de la trinité and De la saincte face Nostre Seigneur;

ff. 38-44, Miscellaneous suffrages, including St. Louis, St. Christopher, St. Nicolas, St. Denis, St. Fiacre, St. Anne, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Catherine, Margaret, Barbara, Apollonia;

ff. 44-48v, Miscellaneous prayers, Quant on veult recepvoir Nostre Seigneur ; Quant on l’a receu; Contre la tempeste; Pour le roy; Pour impetrer grace de ses pechiez; Contre la temptation de la chair; Contre mauvaises pensees… ; Pour ceux qui vont en voiage; Pour le tien amy qui est trespassé; Pour le pere et la mere; Oraison trois roys;

ff. 49-52, blank.

Based on a reconstruction that only the above textual fragments allow, this was once a very rich Book of Hours. It included the Gospel Lessons, the Passion according to John, the Suffrages (coming before the Hours?), with pride of place awarded to Claude illustrated full-page, the mixed Hours of the Virgin, the Hours of the Cross coming after Matins of the Hours of the Virgin, the Seven Penitential Psalms, an Office of the Dead, and a special prayer to the Trinity. Presumably it would also have included a calendar and the Hours of the Holy Spirit. Unknown circumstances led to the breakup of the original manuscript and its composition as an album; perhaps the rest of the text (and pictures) will one day surface. The later sixteenth-century section, added c. 1580, supplemented the text but evidently did not include further miniatures. Unusual textual features, such as the inclusion of the “Genealogy of the Three Maries,” deserve further study.


The subjects of the small miniatures, which come from the section of Suffrages, are:

f. 3, Archangel Michael (unidentified heraldry of the owner, double “C’s” back to back with a merchant’s mark);

f. 4, St. John the Baptist with his Lamb;

f. 5, Evangelist John with the Chalice;

f. 5, Sts. Peter and Paul with their symbols;

f. 7v, St. Francis of Assisi receiving the Stigmata;

f. 8, St. Genevieve with her attributes, the devil holding a bellows.

The subjects of the full-page are:

f. 9v, Nativity;

f. 10v, Adoration of the Magi;

f. 11v, Presentation in the Temple;

f. 12v, Flight into Egypt;

f. 13v, Annunciation;

f. 14v, St. Claude of Besançon, resuscitating a dead monk;

f. 15v, Raising of Lazarus;

f. 16v, St. John on Patmos (by Caleb William Wing);

f. 17v, Coronation of the Virgin;

f. 18v, Agony in the Garden;

f. 19v, Crucifixion with Mary and John;

f. 20v, Trinity.

Composed as a picture album, this manuscript no longer functions as a typical Book of Hours, because it is missing much of its text and some of its miniatures. Nevertheless, the album preserves the vestiges of what was surely a deluxe made-to-order book with fine French Renaissance miniatures. The patron, whose arms appear twice in the manuscript (a merchant’s mark above back-to-back initial “C”s), may have had a special devotion to Saint Claude, bishop of Besançon; there is a full-page picture of one of his miracles with the tell-tale arms in the border. His initials appear also in the miniature of the Archangel Michael.

We are grateful to François Avril for suggesting that the style of our painter is close to that of Etienne Collault, a Parisian artist who was paid twice, once in 1523 and then 1528, to illustrate a total of twelve copies of Statutes of the Order of St. Michel. Two contemporary documents citing Collault’s work on the Statutes are transcribed by Durrieu (1911). One of the copies of the Statutes is now The Hague, Museum Meermanno Westreeniaun, MS 10 C 8; another was formerly Les Enluminures, Paris, now Special Collections, University of California, Los Angeles. Collault, along with his workshop and disciples, worked for the King and his court. He was responsible for a splendid illuminated manuscript by René Bombelles, Panegyricus christianissime Francisco Francorum regi dictus, dated 1531 (Chantilly, Musée Condée, MS 892 [XIV H 2]; see Scailliérez and Stirnemann, 2001, no. 8, pp. 34-37). The tiled flooring, lavish Renaissance frames, and blue-green landscapes are found in many of Collault’s work, as well as in the present manuscript. There are differences, however, because the figures painted by our artist are often more animated, both in their gestures and their poses. Emerging research on French Renaissance illumination should help further disentangle the various styles of artists working in Paris and for members the court of King Francis I, active patrons of the period.

Intriguing is the inclusion (f. 16v) of an illumination by Caleb William Wing (1801-1875), whose career reflects the diverse activities of a nineteenth-century manuscript illuminator working as a restorer, teacher, facsimilist, and printmaker (see Hindman et al., 2001, pp. 125-29). Wing offered drawing classes to young ladies in Brighton. However, he is best known as a restorer of illumination in original manuscripts, particularly those belonging to the collector John Boykett Jarman (died 1864) whose “beautiful collection of Missals and Books of Hours” was badly damaged in a flood, probably in 1846. Janet Backhouse has reconstructed Wing’s association with Jarman, whose collection was later sold at Sotheby’s in London on June 13, 1864. The incomplete state of the present manuscript (many of Jarman’s manuscripts were refashioned as albums, discarding the damaged portions) and the inclusion of a miniature by Wing point tantalizingly to the Jarman collection, but we have been unable to identify this manuscript among those sold. Some 60 sets of loose miniatures by Wing are described in the sale of Jarman’s collection. Unlike contemporaries such as the Spanish Forger, Wing mastered diverse styles, so that his miniatures are sometimes surprisingly difficult to identify, often passing for the “real.” On Wing’s death, his obituary claimed for him the accolade of “the best facsimile copyist of ancient illuminations.”


Avril, F. and N. Reynaud. Les Manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520, Paris, Flammarion, 1992.

Backhouse, Janet. “A Victorian Connoisseur and His Manuscripts: The Tale of Mr. Jarman and Mr. Wing,” British Museum Quarterly 32 (1968), pp. 76-92.

Hindman S. et al. Manuscript Illumination in the Modern Age: Recovery and Reconstruction, Evanston, IL, 2001, esp. pp. 125-29.

Scailliérez, Cécile and Patricia Stirnemann. Art du manuscript de la Renaissance en France, Chantilly, exhibition catalogue, Musée Condée, Paris, Somogny éditions d’art, 2001

Verluchte Handschriften uit Eigen Bezit, 1300-1 550, exhibition catalogue, Meermanno-Westreenianum, The Hague, 1979.

Read full Description

Reference Number: 3
EUR 64200 GBP 57000 USD 80000