Printed Books of Hours were a mainstay of the Paris book trade in the decades before and after 1500. Choosing from among the more than 2,000 editions can be bewildering. This edition is by one of the earliest and most important of Parisian printers, Simon Vostre, whose shop was on the street leading to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Ensuring his success, he used woodcuts based on designs by two of the leading illuminators of the period, the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne of Brittany and Jean Pichore. Parisian printers often promoted new border sequences found in their editions; included here are those from the biblical books of Judith and Tobit.
140 parchment folios plus three paper flyleaves and one marbled pastedown at front, two paper flyleaves and one marbled pastedown at back, in-8o format, no pencil foliation, complete except for replacement first folio (1+a7, b-c8, d4, e-p8, ā8, ē8, ī8), up to 22 lines to a page, ruled in brown, signatures printed in black on first and sometimes second folio of each gathering (unless interrupted by a frame) and accompanied by letter “R”, printed in a Gothic batarde on a single column (justification with marginal scenes, c. 150 x 89 mm.; text block only, c. 108 x 60 mm.), in black, capitals in liquid gold on 1, 2, or 4 lines, with alternating blue and red backgrounds, 21 full-page metalcuts, 29 smaller ones, and several hundred border metalcuts, complete, with pasted repair on fol. a8, condition otherwise very good. Bound in a mid-19th-century dark green morocco, tooled and stamped in gold with “Heures” and sunbursts on the spine and with a gilt frame on the upper and lower boards. Dimensions c. 178 x 114 mm.
1. Printed in Paris by Simon Vostre, bookseller and printer in Paris. There is no colophon, but the tipped-in title page is also of Simon Vostre. The verso of this replacement first contains a rare Almanac for the years 1507-1527 (for this edition see Bohatta 848-849; not in Lacombe or any other of the usual sources), though the rest of the book can be dated to 1515 on the basis of its metalcuts.
2. Private European Collection.
f. a1r, Title page (Renouard 1107), “SIMON : VOSTRE : / hore beate marie v[ir]ginis secu[n]du[m] usu[m] Ro / manum absqu[e] requisitione aliqua cu[m] pluri / bus orationibus in gallico et latine.”;
f. a1v (replaced), Almanac for 1507-1527 (“Almanach pour.xxi.an.”);
f. a2r, Skeletal Zodiacal Man;
ff. a2v-a8r, Calendar in Latin;
ff. a8v-b4r, Gospels sequences;
ff. b4v-c3r, Passion according to St. John;
ff. c3r-d4v, Prayers to the Virgin Mary including Obsecro te, O intemerata, Stabat Mater, and Missus est Gabriel;
ff. e1r-l2v, Hours of the Virgin with the Hours of the Cross and the Hours of the Holy Spirit intercalated; Matins (ff. e1r-f3v), Lauds (ff. f4r-g2v), Matins of the Hours of the Cross (ff. g3r-g3v); Matins of the Hours of the Holy Spirit (ff. g4r-g4v); Prime (for all Hours, ff. g5r-g8r), Terce (for all Hours, ff. g8v-h3r), Sext (for all Hours, ff. h3v-h6v), None (for all Hours, ff. h7r-i2r), Vespers (for all Hours, ff. i2v-i7v), Compline (for all Hours, ff. i8r-l2v);
ff. l3r-m7r, Seven Penitential Psalms, Litany, and Prayers;
ff. m7v-p8v, Office of the Dead;
f. ā1r-ē5r, Suffrages, De sanctissima trinitate, Ad deum patrem, Ad filium, Ad spiritum sanctum, De sancta facie domini, De sancto michaele, De sancto johanne bapitista, de sancto johanne evangelista, De sanctis petro et paulo, De sancto jacobo, De ombnibus apostolis, De sancto stepahno, De sancto laurentio, De sancto christophoro, De sancto sebastiano, De pluribus martyribus, De sancto nicolao, De sancto claudio, De sancto anthonio, De sancta anna, De sancta maria magdalena, De sancta katherina, De sancta magareta, De sancta Barbara, De sancta apolonia; De sancta genovefa ;
ff. ē5r-ī2v, miscellaneous prayers, before the cross, when the chalice is raised, etc..., Seven Petitions of Saint Greogry (incipit: “Domine iesu christe adoro te in cruce pendentem”);
ff. ī3r- ī6v, Office of the Conception of the Virgin;
ff. ī7r- ī7v, Prayer to the Holy Sepulchre;
ff. ī8r- ī8v, Table of Contents
Simon Vostre (fl. 1486-1518) printed and published in Paris at the sign of Saint John the Evangelist on the rue Neuve Nostre-Dame, the “new street” leading to the great Cathedral. The rue Neuve served as the center of the commercial book trade from its beginnings through the appearance of print. Simon’s wife Geneviève Le Pelletier came from a family that is recorded in the Paris book trade as early as 1368, and Vostre’s shop on the rue Neuve belonged to her father, the book-binder Jean Le Pelletier. The present edition was produced late in Vostre’s career.
Renowned for his printed and sometimes hand-colored Books of Hours, Simon Vostre associated himself with a number of printers and typographers who printed the books he then marketed as a stationer. Along with Antoine Vérard, Vostre developed sequences of marginal cuts that illustrate such themes as biblical typology, the Dance of Death, the Triumphs of Cesar, and the Apocalypse. These border vignettes run parallel to the main text, but are staggered and do not relate to it directly, thus providing secondary narratives for the reader to follow.
Printed Books of Hours were one of the mainstays of the Parisian publishers and printers; numerous editions were produced between 1488 and 1568. The new technology of printing, at least in theory, introduced Books of Hours, a prayer book for the laity, to a broader audience. Certainly the growing urban middle class was one of the chief purchasers of these books. In practice, many Books of Hours were finished by hand; in some cases, so luxuriously, that we can doubt they were a less expensive product. Artists often supplied initials and borders, and colored the printed illustrations so that in the case of many books it is difficult to distinguish the illustrations from those in illuminated manuscripts. Some printed Books of Hours, including this one, were left in their pristine black-and-white condition, just as they came off the press (even though they had painted initials, line endings, and ruling added by hand).
The present Horae are illustrated with 21 large metalcuts, 29 small metalcuts and several hundred border metalcuts, as follow:
21 large metalcuts:
All from Jean Pichore’s 1505-1508 octavo set for Simon Vostre, unless otherwise noted.
f. a1r, Typographic mark of Simon Vostre, with two Leopards (Master of Anne of Brittany; Renouard 1107)
f. a2r, Anatomical man (Master of Anne of Brittany);
f. a8v, Martrydom of Saint John the Evangelist (anonymous Master working in the style of Dürer);
f. b4v, Arrest of Christ;
f. d4v, Tree of Jesse (Master of Anne of Brittany);
f. e1r, Annunciation;
f4r, Augustus and the Tibertine Sibyl;
f. g3r, Crucifixion (anonymous Master working in the style of Dürer);
f. g4r, Apostles drinking from the fountain of life;
f. g5r, Nativity;
f. g8v, Annunciation to the Shepherds;
f. h3v, Adoration of the Magi;
f. h7r, Presentation in the Temple;
f. i2v, Massacre of the Innocents;
f. i8r, Dormition;
f. l3r, David and Uriah;
f. m7v, Dives and Lazarus (Master of Anne of Brittany);
f. m8r, Job and his Friends;
f. ā1r, Trinity and the Church (Master of Anne of Brittany);
f. ī3r, Virgin Mary with her Attributes;
f. ī7r, The Deposition (Master of Anne of Brittany)
29 small metalcuts:
All by the Master of Anne of Brittany for Vostre, unless otherwise noted.
f. b2r, Saint Luke (Pichore);
f. b2v, Saint Matthew;
f. b3v, Saint Mark;
f. c3r, Assumption;
f. c6v, Pietà;
f. c8r, Annunciation;
f. ā1v, Blessing Christ;
f. ā2r, Man of Sorrows;
f. ā2v, Pentecost;
f. ā3r, Saint Veronica;
f. ā3v, Saint Michael;
f. ā4r, Saint John the Baptist;
f. ā4v, Saint John the Evangelist;
f. ā5r, Saint Peter and Paul;
f. ā5r, Saint James;
f. ā6r, Saint Stephen;
f. ā6v, Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence;
f. ā6v, Saint Christopher;
f. ā7v, Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian;
f. ā8v, Saint Nicholas;
f. ē1r, Saint Claude;
f. ē1v, Saint Anthony;
f. ē2r, Saint Anne teaching the Virgin;
f. ē2v, Saint Mary Magdalene;
f. ē3r, Martyrdom of Saint Katherine;
f. ē3r, Saint Margaret;
f. ē3v, Saint Barbara;
f. ē4r, Saint Apollonia;
f. ē4v, Saint Genevieve;
Border cycles (all by the Master of Anne of Brittany, except when noted, and some ornamental borders by Pichore), interrupted by full-page miniatures listed above:
ff. a2v-a8r, Calendar Saints; Labors of the Months; Zodiac; Children’s Games;
ff. b1r-b4r, Grotesques;
ff. b5r-,c3v, Joseph and his Brothers; Sacraments; Courtly Games; Grotesques;
ff. c4r-d4r, Virtues and their Antitypes; Sacraments; Courtly Games; Grotesques
ff. e1v-f6r; Apocalypse (Pichore); Grotesques;
ff. f6v-f8v, Grotesques;
ff. g1r-h4r, Tobit (Pichore);
f. h4v, Grotesques;
ff. h5r-i1v, Judith (Pichore);
ff. i2r-l2v, Grotesques;
ff. l3v-l5r, Prodigal Son;
ff. l5v-l8r, Susanna;
ff. l8v-m3r, Signs Before the Last Judgment;
ff. m3v-m7r, Grotesques;
ff. m8v-o3r, The Living and the Dead; Life of Job; Memento Mori; Sacraments;
ff. o3v-p1v, The Accidents of Man (Pichore); Memento Mori; Grotesques;
ff. p2r-p8v, Grotesques;
ff. ā1v-ā8r, Triumphs of Cesar (Pichore); Sacraments; Courtly Games; Grotesques
ff. ā8v- ī8v, Sacraments; Courtly Games; Grotesques
Printed Book of Hours like the present example illustrate the transition between the world of the medieval manuscript and the age of the printed book. In contents, use, and layout they follow in the tradition of the medieval illuminated Book of Hours – lavishly illustrated texts for private prayer that have been called the “best sellers” of the late Middle Ages. Technically, however, such books are the products of print technology. The handwritten script of the past has been simulated with type, and hand-painted miniatures have been replaced by detailed metalcuts that still follow the traditional iconography of the manuscript Book of Hours, but add richness and complexity through additional parallel narratives. Other traditional manuscript components, including painted initials, line fillers, and borders on every text page, have been replaced by further sets of metalcuts.
The book’s illustrations combine works by two of the most prolific illuminators of late-fifteenth- and early-sixteenth-century Paris, both of whom actively supplied designs for the printing trade, but had differing artistic outlooks. The combination of new and old border cycles, and the presence of two paired opening miniatures at folios d4v-e1r and m7v-m7r, which contrast the two artists’ styles, is noteworthy. Additionally, the present book includes two full-page images by an artist closely connected to the style of Albrecht Dürer, part of a set of metalcuts that Simon Vostre inserted into his books beginning around 1512.
The Master of the Très Petites Heures d’Anne de Bretagne (named after one of his manuscripts: Paris, BnF, MS n.a.l. 3120), is also known as the Master of the Apocalypse Rose (Jean d’Ypres? fl. in Paris, c. 1480-1510) because he designed the famous rose window of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris commissioned by the French king Charles VIII (reigned 1483-1498). Occasionally, the artist is also referred to as the Master of the Hunt of the Unicorn after his designs for the famous suite of tapestries at The Cloisters in New York. The Master of the Très petites Heures played an important role in the production of printed Books of Hours, which flourished during the last quarter of the fifteenth century. He supplied many series of woodcuts to illustrate numerous editions, designs that are also found in manuscripts he painted. Typically his figures are rather stocky and carefully framed within complex Gothic architectural elements. The Master might have been the eldest son of the Coëtivy master, a certain Jean d’Ypres, registered in Paris as a maître-juré (on the Maitre d’Anne de Bretagne or the Master of the Apocalypse Rose and his designs for metalcuts, see Avril and Reynaud, 1993, no. 147, pp. 268-270, and Ina Nettekoven, 2004, passim.).
The second artist, who contributed designs for most of the large miniatures—created as an Octavo series edition in about 1504 – and some of the border cycles and ornamentation, is Jean Pichore. Although Pichore was mainly an illuminator, and the head of a large and productive workshop in Paris, he was also an entrepreneur. He tried his hand at printing, setting up a press with Remi de Laistre. For himself and for others, he designed metalcuts. He published the first series under his own name in 1504, and by 1508, he was supplying designs for Books of Hours by other printers, especially Vostre, Thielman Kerver, and the Hardouin brothers. Georges d’Amboise, archbishop of Rouen, was one of his major clients and thus his style has sometimes been confused with that of Rouen, though artistically he is most indebted to Jean Poyet (d. 1503), with whom he must have trained early in his career. He is documented as working on two manuscripts, the first volume of Augustine’s De civitate Dei of c. 1501/03 and the Chants royaux for Louise of Savoy of 1517 (both in the BnF). Pichore managed a large family enterprise responsible for the illumination of a great number of classical, secular, and religious works. As the metalcuts in the present book demonstrate, he was also receptive to Netherlandish and, especially, German prints.
Nevertheless, the present book also contains two metalcuts, the Martyrdom of Saint John and the Crucifixion, that derive much more directly from prints by Dürer. The former is a free copy from the German artist’s 1496/97 Apocalypse series, and the latter is an adaptation from a scene in the 1511 Life of the Virgin series. In making use of such prints and by patronizing Pichore, Simon Vostre played an important role in providing “Renaissance” motifs for printed Books of Hours and introducing aspects of Dürer’s art to French audiences.
Armstrong, A. and Malcolm Quainton, M. Book and Text in France, 1400-1600: Poetry on the Page, London, 2007, esp. p. 78 ff. for Simon Vostre.
Nettekoven, I. Der Meister des Apokalypsenrose der Sainte Chapelle und die Pariser Buchkunst um 1500, Turnhout, 2004, esp. pp. 89-90 (plates 158, 171, 162, 175-176) and pp. 95-101 (plates 225-232).
Zöhl, C. Jean Pichore: Buchmaler, Graphiker und Verleger in Paris um 1500, Turnhout, 2004, esp. pp. 132-137 (plates 123-129) and pp. 152-154 (plates 231, 234, 237).
Tenschert, H. and I. Nettekoven, Horae B.M.V.: 158 Stundenbuchdruke der Sammlung Bibermühle, vol. I, Schaffhausen, 2003 (see esp pp. 122-28 for the Master of Anne of Brittany; pp. 336-344 for Jean Pichore; cat. no. 44, pp. 73-379, for a similar 1507 Use of Rome Hours; and cat. no. 44 for a 1510 Use of Rome Hours with identical foliation and use of the Martyrdom of Saint John “Dürer style” metalcut).
Avril, F. and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, Paris, 1993, pp. 268-270 (cat. no. 147).
Moreau, B. and P. Renouard, Inventaire chronologique des éditions parisiennes du XVIe siècle, Paris, 1972 (vol. II, cat. no. 1113, cross-referenced to Bohatta 991)
Renouard, P. Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens, Paris, 1965 (frontispiece listed as cat. no. 1107).
Bohatta, H. Bibliographie der Livres d’Heures, Vienna, 1924 (likely no. 991, with one copy listed as being in the author’s collection).
Renouard, P. Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens, libraires, fondeurs de caractères et correcteurs d’imprimerie, Paris, 1965.
Bohatta, H. Bibliographie der Livres d’Heures, Vienna, 1924.