This is a lovely Book of Hours, one of the masterpieces of an Troyes artist whose highly personalized style is easily recognized: elegantly attenuated figures with planar faces set in romantically exotic landscapes where castles cling to fantastic rocky outcrops. After c. 1420, when Paris fell to the English, and before the end of the century, when it regained its stature as the center of book production, some of the best manuscript illumination comes from the provinces. This is the case with Troyes, an alluring medieval city, the lively capital of the Champagne district (full of charm and still meriting a visit today). The inclusion of an extensive family history brings to life the medieval experience of owning, and using, a Book of Hours.
164 ff., preceded by 3 parchment flyleaves (one original and 2 modern) and followed by 2 parchment flyleaves (modern), complete (collation: i-ii6, iii8, iv6, v10, vi-xix8, xx4, xxi8, xxii3), written in a Gothic bookhand in brown ink, with up to 13 lines per page, ruled in light red ink (justification: 103 x 67 mm), a few catchwords, rubrics in red, calendar copied in brown, red and blue ink, line-fillers in pink and blue highlighted in white with burnished gold disks or rectangular shapes, a few line-fillers composed of sun-like motifs (burnished gold disks with ink rays), numerous 1- to 2-line high initials in burnished gold on pink and blue grounds highlighted in white, larger 3-line high initials marking the major liturgical divisions traced in blue highlighted in white on burnished gold grounds with coloured ivy-leaves infill, a few bracket borders on reserved grounds composed of coloured acanthus leaves, flowers, burnished gold besants and ivy-leaves (ff. 16v, 154, 160v), one historiated initial (f. 77v), 14 large arch-topped miniatures set in full borders composed of coloured acanthus leaves, burnished gold besants and ivy-leaves, flowers, birds (with a peacock repeated three times: f. 28, f. 73, f. 121) all on reserved grounds, miniature all framed by baguettes in alternating dark pink and blue separated by burnished gold geometrical shapes, 4 roundels in the border (f. 28), placed around the large miniature representing the Annunciation (at the beginning of the Hours of the Virgin). Bound nineteenth-century red velvet, back sewn on 4 bands, gilt edges (Good general condition, corners a bit worn, velvet worn at foot and head of spine; a few leaves slightly stained; very wide margins), housed in an articulated modern box covered in blue fabric. Dimensions 197 x 140 mm.
1. Although the liturgical use for this Book of Hours is that of Paris (Hours of the Virgin), a number of liturgical elements point to an intended use in Franche-Comté and Champagne. The calendar contains saints venerated specifically in Besançon such as St. Ferieul, the patron saint of Besançon and founder of the Church of Besançon, and St. Antidius, a fifth century bishop of Besançon. Other saints include Saints Romain, Stephen (Etienne), to whom the Cathedral of Besançon was dedicated until the eighteenth century. The suffrages include Saint Claude, patron saint of the Jura region of France and also honored in Besançon (Claude is also found in red, in the Calendar (6 June)); and also Saint Mastidia (7 May), honored in Troyes and Champagne region of France.
Stylistic elements point towards a production in Troyes proper or by a Troyes artist relocalized in Besançon or Franche-Comté, where this artist is also said to have been active.
2. Initial owners unknown. However, these Horae were owned in the sixteenth century by the Dorigny family (Troyes) and passed on by female descent to the Guyenet family (also Troyes).
3. Lardanchet family, from the Jura, with an uninterrupted line of descent from 1562 to 1710. This branch of the Lardanchet family was mostly established in Bletterans (Jura, “Bresse jurassienne”), a small town about fifteen kilometres north-west of Lons-le-Saunier in the Jura region. This Book of Hours, and more specifically the margins of its calendar, contains an important “livre de raison,” in French and Latin, that records the births, deaths and baptisms as well as other important family or historical events for the years 1562-1710. The first entry reads: “Les presentes heures furent données a Anne Guyonetz de Marnay (Saône-et-Loire ou Haute-Saône?), femme d’honorable Estienne Lardenchet procureur d’ofice a Bletrans par feue Damoyselle Nicole Dorigny sa mere natifve de Troye en Champagne en juin mil et cinq centz soixante deux”; “Estienne Lardenchet mary de Anne Guyoney heurent Symon Lardenchet”; Symon Lardenchet espousat Guye Cortot et heurent Philibert Lardenchet, Anne, Jeanne, Anne Hyppolitte, Marie et Symonne Lardenchet. Ilz heurent encor un aultre filz nommé Henry qui fut tué a Ruffey le landemain de l’assension nostre seigneur a qui Dieu face paix le vingt sixiesme jour de may mil six centz vingt trois.” We are thus informed that Anne Guyenet brought this Book of Hours into the Lardanchet family: she and Etienne Lardanchet married in 1575. Anne Guyenet died in 1624 (see “livre de raison,” f. 8v).
The first member of the Lardanchet family to possess this Book of Hours was Etienne Lardanchet who was “procureur d’office” in Bletterans (Jura). The “procureur d’office” represented the public ministry regarding matters of justice, acting “ex officio,” that is according to his own sole judgment. Amongst the other important members of the Lardanchet family, there is Etienne’s son, Simon Lardanchet (1577-1636), notary and “procureur du Prince d’Orange.” A few entries in the “livre de raison” relate to eighteenth-century members of the family such as Philibert Lardanchet, who died in 1703 (f. 13v) and finally Marie-Thérese Lardanchet who married Jean Ricard in 1710 (f. 14v), and was the last Lardanchet owner of these Horae.
The majority of the baptisms and burials recorded in this “livre de raison” took place in the small parish church of Saint-Paul de Bletterans, also called “Eglise Monsieur Saint Paul de Bletterans et Villevieux” in the entries. Another religious institution often mentioned is that of the Carmes deschaux (deschaussés) de Bletterans (Discalced Carmelites).
4. Owned by Henri Lardanchet (1875-1935), book-dealer, editor and local erudite, established in Lyons. Henri Lardeanchet was a member of another branch of the Lardenchet family that came from the exact same region of Jura (he was born in Desnes, a village next door to Bletterans). A trained journalist, Henri Lardanchet first took a position in the Librairie Roux (Lyons), specialized in religious books. He was close to the Action française. On Henri Lardanchet see the articles published in the Bulletin des lettres. Revue mensuelle du Cercle lyonnais de sélection (no. 41, 4e année, 25 juin 1935), with hommages signed Charles Maurras, Léon Michaud, André Bridoux, Louis Mercier, Jean Tenant, Tristan Derème, Albert Thibaudet, E. de Lamaze, Philippe Petit. The manuscript was then passed on by descent to probably first Armand Lardanchet (1899-1965), book-dealer in Lyons and later Paris, or Henri Lardanchet, also book-dealer, expert and collector (1947-2014). We thank Jacqueline Chemineau for her help in reconstructing the provenance of this Book of Hours.
f. 1, Beginning of the “livre de raison” for the Lardanchet family: “Les presentes furent données a Anne Guyenetz de Marnay femme d’honorable Estienne Lardenchet procureur d’ofice par feue damoyselle Nicole d’Originy sa mere natifve de Troye en Champagne en juin mil cinq cents soixante deux. // Estienne Lardenchet mary de femme Anne Guyeney heurent Symon Lardenchet. Symon Lardenchet espousat Guye Cortot et heurent Philibert Lardenchet, Anne-Jeanne, Anne-Hyppolitte, Marie et Symonne Lardenchet. Ils heurent encor un aultre fiz nommé Henry qui fut tué a Ruffey le landemain de l’assension nostre seigneur a qui dieu face paix le vingt sixieme jour de may mil six centz vingt trois”;
ff. 2-13v, Calendar, in French, with entries in brown, red and blue, with the following noteworthy saints from Besançon or venerated in Jura: Sainte Merciane (9 Jan.); Saint Archade (12 Jan.); Saint Didier (11 Feb.); Saint Romain, Abbott of Condat, founder of abbeys in the Mont Jura region (Condat, Lauconne, la Balme), honored 4 times (28 Feb.; 31 March; 18 Nov.; 18 Dec.); Saint Agapit, martyr of Preneste whose head was transported to Besançon by Célidoine and deposited in the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne de Besançon (24 March); Saint Nicomède (1 June): “Notre ancien martyrologe, marque au premier juin la fête de saint Nichomède martyr et porte qu’on avoit à Besançon une partie de ses reliques (…) ce saint avait à Besançon une messe et un office propre, au premier juin” (Histoire de l’Eglise de Besançon, p. 57); Saint Claude, Archbishop of Besançon, patron saint of Jura (in red, 6 June), Saint Antide (Antidius), Bishop of Besançon (17 June), Saint Ferieul (Saint Ferréol of Besançon), twice (30 May and 16 June); Saint Désiré, patron Saint of Lons-le-Saunier (27 July); Saint Lin, Pope, first pope after Saint Peter [there was an accepted tradition in Besançon (who celebrated the feast of Saint Lin on 26 November) that Saint Lin was in fact the first Bishop of Besançon, who founded a small church in honor of the Resurrection of Our Savior, of the Virgin and of Saint Etienne, first martyr] (19 Sept. and 26 Nov.); Saint Etienne (Stephen), patron saint of the former Cathedral (before the change in consecration in favour of Saint-Jean de Besançon, declared Cathedral following the “querelle des chapitres”; the former Cathedral Saint-Etienne de Besançon was demolished in the seventeenth century), his feast day inscribed in red (26 Dec.), as well as the feasts of the translation of his relics (2 and 3 August; see Dunod de Charnage, Histoire des Séquanois…, Dijon, 1735, p. 54). Other saints can be associated with the diocese of Troyes, such as Saint Frobert, Abbot of Montier-la-Celle (8 Jan.); Saint Aventin (4 Feb.); Saint Prudence, Bishop of Troyes (6 April); Saint Mastida (or Mastie), one of the patron saints of Troyes (7 May); Saint Phal (ou Fidolus), Abbott (16 May); Saint Loup, twice (1 Sept. and 25 Sept.) [On the saints venerated in the diocese of Troyes, see Defer, E. Vies des saints du diocèse de Troyes et histoire de leur culte, Troyes, 1865].
ff. 14-21v, Gospel Extracts;
ff. 22-94, Hours of the Virgin, use of Paris, with Matins (ff. 28-51v), Lauds (ff. 52-66), Prime (ff. 66-72v), ant. “Benedicta tu” and cap. “Felix namque,” Terce (ff. 73-77), Sext (ff. 77-81), None (ff. 81-85), ant. “Sicut lilium” and cap. “Beati omni,” Vespers (ff. 85v-88v), Compline (ff. 89-94);
f. 94v, blank leaf;
ff. 95-116, Penitential Psalms and Litany (ff. 111v-114) (including Estienne, Vincent, Laurent, Sebastien, Leonard, Yves);
ff. 116v-120v, Hours of the Cross;
ff. 121-124, Hours of the Holy Spirit;
ff. 125-147v, Office of the Dead, with only three lessons: Credo quod / Qui Lazarum / Libera me;
ff. 148-148v, Prayer to Veronica’s Veil (the Holy Face), in Latin, added by a sixteenth century hand (Simon Lardenchet): “Oraison du Sainct Suayre” (f. 148);
ff. 149-151, Stabat mater;
ff. 151-152v, Suffrage to Saint Claude, rubric, De saint Claude antene oratio, incipit, “O desolator, consolator, captivorum liberator resurrectio mortuorum…”;
ff. 152v-153, Suffrage to Saint Sebastian;
ff. 153-153v, Suffrage to Saint Catherine;
ff. 154-160v, Prayer to the Virgin, “Doulce dame de misericorde,” followed by the Fifteen Joys of the Virgin;
ff. 160v-163v, Seven Words of Christ.
f. 14, Saint John on Patmos;
f. 22, Virgin and Child flanked by two angels;
f. 28, Annunciation; border with four roundels with the following subjects: Joachim and Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate; Birth of the Virgin; Virgin weaving in the Temple; Marriage of Mary and Joseph;
f. 52, Visitation;
f. 66v, Nativity;
f. 73, Annunciation to the Shepherds;
f. 77v, Adoration of the Magi; historiated initial: Holy Face (Veronica’s Veil);
f. 81v, Presentation in the Temple;
f. 85v, Flight into Egypt;
f. 89, Coronation of the Virgin;
f. 95, King David in Prayer;
f. 116v, Crucifixion;
f. 121, Pentecost;
f. 124, Entombment.
This Book of Hours contains fine miniatures (14 full page, 4 roundels and 1 historiated initial) securely attributed to the Master of the Troyes Missal, named after a manuscript in Paris (BnF, MS lat. 865A) written by the scribe Jean Coquet around 1460 (Avril et Reynaud, 1993, no. 97, pp. 182-183). This Missal represents the artist’s work at its most accomplished stage, and its illumination is in every way comparable with the miniatures and borders of the present manuscript. The elegantly attenuated figures with planar faces are set in romantically exotic landscapes, where castles cling to fantastic rocky outcrops (see f. 14, St. John on Patmos) and distant details merge into receding vistas cloaked in blue haze. The artist’s highly personalized style can be easily recognized by the previously mentioned facial types and highly polished diapered or textile backdrops (f. 22, Virgin and Child flanked by two angels (presenting similarities with a scene in Troyes, Médiathèque, MS 3897; see reproduction in Avril, Hermant and Bibolet, 2007, fig. 177, p. 135); f. 89, Coronation of the Virgin). The artist of our Horae also presents a predilection for night scenes and dark blue and starry skies such as the sky perceptible through the window of the Annunciation (f. 14), the Visitation (f. 52), the Annunciation to the Shepherds (f. 73), the Flight into Egypt (f. 85v), David in Prayer (f. 95) etc. In fact, all of the miniatures with outdoor scenes take place at night, with these characteristic dramatic and starry skies, lit up by zenithally descending rays. For the Master of the Troyes Missal and his work, see F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520, 1993, pp.180-184; see also the recent Avril, Hermant and Bibolet, Très riches Heures de Champagne (2007), pp. 126-137.
In addition to the Missal discussed above (Paris, BnF, MS lat. 865A), there is a small corpus of manuscripts painted by the Master of the Troyes Missal, as follows: Troyes, Médiathèque, MS 117, Missal of Saint-Jean-au-Marché; Paris, BnF, MS lat. 11972-11974, Postillae of Nicholas of Lyra; Troyes, Médiathèque, MS 3897, Hours, use of Troyes, acquired by the Médiathèque de Troyes, a Book of Hours which, although missing up to nine miniatures, compares well with the Lardanchet Hours in quality and composition (Christie’s, 19 November 2003, lot 22). A longer list is also found in Avril et Reynaud, 1993, pp. 181-184: Paris, BnF, MS lat. 10471, lat. 13273 ; Marseille, BM, MS. 112 ; Nancy, BM, MS. 36 ; Avril, F., M. Hermant, F. Bibolet, 2007, p. 78 et pp. 126-134; see also the list established by Plummer, 1982, p. 60, no. 79).
After a first apex at the end of the twelfth century, largely due to the patronage of the Comtes de Champagne, Troyes was destined again to become a major city for manuscript production and in particular Books of Hours in the fifteenth century. François Avril and later Maxence Hermant have identified a number of distinct and original artists who worked in Troyes. These are: the Master of the Troyes Hours, the Master of the Glazier Hours (after a Book of Hours now in New York, Pierpont Morgan Library), the Master of the Pierre Michault of Guyot Le Peley, who worked for important local families (Boucherat, Molé, Hennequin). The recent catalogue and exhibition held in Troyes contributes to our better appreciation of Troyes illumination (Avril, F., M. Hermant, F. Bibolet. Très riches heures de Champagne. L’enluminure en Campagne à la fin du Moyen Age, Paris, 2007).
Although the present Horae were made for the liturgical use of Paris, a universal use adopted throughout France much like that of Rome, the Calendar in no way reflects Paris use, and presents instead a large number of saints from the Franche-Comté and also a few Troyes saints (see Text, Calendar above). In Champagne, the city of Troyes dominated book production; the Master of the Troyes Missal was much in demand and might very well have relocated himself depending on the manuscripts ordered and the place of origin of his patrons. It is now generally accepted that the Master also worked outside of Troyes and might have spent time in the Franche-Comté (Besançon?). This would account for the Books of Hours painted by this artist for use in Franche-Comté and Jura, such as the present Horae. A good example of this artist’s “relocalization” or itinerancy, is the fine manuscript the Master painted for Charles de Neufchâtel (1463-1480), Archbishop of Besançon (Missal, Auckland, Auckland City Librairies, Special Collections, Med. MSS G. 138-139. Another Book of Hours clearly painted in the Besançon region by our Troyes artist (or rather his workshop?) is found in New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M. 28. In the present Horae, the miniatures were painted by a Troyes artist, likely for a Troyes patron, since one of the first recorded owners in the sixteenth century (although not the original fifteenth century patron) was a certain Nicole Dorigny, “natifve de Troyes” (see Provenance above). But the original Troyes patron chose to have a calendar copied for use in Franche-Comté, and an added suffrage copied for Saint Claude, another locally venerated Franche-Comté saint. For now, one can only stipulate that the manuscript was painted by a Troyes artist, for a patron whose ties with Franche-Comté (and the Jura?) are clear. The Book of Hours went on to be used over two centuries in the Jura region by the Lardanchet family, who would have appreciated the calendar for local use and probably not have been bothered by the Paris use of the Hours of the Virgin.
In addition to its illumination and interesting combination of liturgical uses, these Horae contain an important “livre de raison” that lists the major births, baptisms, and deaths of the Lardanchet family (Jura), over two centuries, into the eighteenth century. The reader is able to envision with great precision the actual places in the small church of Saint-Paul-de-Bletterans where couples were wed, infants baptized, and the deceased buried. During the period covered by this “livre de raison,” the small town of Bletterans was under Holy Roman Empire rule. Indeed from 1477 onwards, Franche-Comté was incorporated into the territories of the Habsburg monarchy, and ultimately was inherited by Philip II of Spain, from his father the emperor Charles V. Franche-Comté was captured by France in 1668 but returned under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. It was conquered a second time in 1674, and was finally ceded to France in the Treaty of Nijmegen (1678). Our “livre de raison” provides information on this troubled period of conquest by the French, with a number of towns destroyed and inhabitants massacred. There are references in the “livre de raison” to these troubled times. The images, prayers, and sequence of recorded entries would have constituted an important family treasure passed on over two centuries.
Avril, F., M. Hermant, F. Bibolet. Très riches heures de Champagne. L’enluminure en Champagne à la fin du Moyen Age, Paris, 2007.
Avril, F. et N. Reynaud. Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, Paris, 1993.
Chamouton, E. Bletterans et Notre Dame miraculeuse: notice historique, Lons-le-Saunier, 1888.
Dunod de Charnage, François-Ignace. Histoire de l’église, ville et diocèse de Besançon, Besançon, 1750.
Fliegel, S. N. The Jeanne Miles Blackburn Collection of Manuscript Illuminations, Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1999, see no. 48 – Leaf from a Book of Hours, Troyes, France, circa 1460.
Leroquais, V. Les livres d’heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale, Macon, 1927.
Milloux, J. Histoire d’une petite ville de Franche-Comté : Bletterans, Lons-le-Saunier, 1960.
Book of Hours (use of Troyes), acquired by the Médiathèque de Troyes in 2003
Troyes, Médiathèque, MS 3897