Les Enluminures


Printed Book of Hours (Use of Rome)
In Latin with a few texts in French and one Spanish prayer, printed on parchment
Paris, Thielman Kerver, June 23,1507 (dated colophon)
With nineteen large metalcuts, Kerver’s printer’s mark, two illustrated tables, thirty-six small metalcuts, and full borders on every text page (many with figurative decoration) by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne and Jean Pichore

Parisian printers turned out literally thousands of Books of Hours over a period of sixty years.  Attentive to the demands of a wide-ranging clientele, they furnished Books of Hours for the international market – Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, and England. This example, with its Spanish calendar and Spanish prayer, was likely intended for a Spanish audience (Catalan?).  Known in only one other copy (on paper), it combines older “Gothic” metalcuts with those in the new Renaissance style.  Left uncolored on creamy parchment, the illustrations emphasize the fineness of the printing of the cuts and their skillful graphic design.

In-8o format, i (parchment) + 152 + i (parchment) unnumbered parchment leaves, complete, 19 quires (collation a-t8), signed in the first half of each quire with a minuscule letter followed by a roman numeral with slight variations in the notation: a.i a.ij a.iij a.iiij – h.i [h2 unsigned] h.iij h.iiij, i.j i.ij i.iij i.iiij, k.j k.ij k.iij [k4 unsigned], l.j l.ij l.iij l.iiij, m.j m.ij m.iij m.iiij, n.i n.ij n.iij n.iiij, o.j o.ij o.iij o.iiij-t.j t.ij t.iij t.iiij (justification, text and border 150 x 90, text alone 105 x 60 mm.), printed in a rounded gothic font on up to 25 lines, rubrics and headings within the borders printed in red, full metalcut borders on every text page, Kerver’s unicorn printer’s device above the colophon on the last leaf (Renouard, 1965, no. 501), two illustrated tables, 36 small metalcuts (one repeat), 19 large almost full-page metalcuts (one repeat), with decoration supplied by hand including red ruling (occasionally, as on sig. e2v, with ruling right across the small metalcut), 1- and 2-line gold initials on alternately blue and dull red grounds, or occasionally on parted divided grounds of red and blue, 3-line initials alternately red and blue infilled with flowers on gold on a ground of the opposite color, first leaf and last five leaves with some staining in the margins, sig. d8 creased, small repairs to sig. i8, o1, q3, and r6, with insignificant loss (retouched or redrawn in pencil), overall in very good condition.  CONTEMPORARY binding of polished calf over wooden boards, tooled in blind with three sets of triple filets, an arabesque roll between the second and third, and a central panel with a YHS monogram in gold at the center and ivy leaves in blind at each corner, spine with five raised bands tooled in blind, leather label in the first compartment with “XVI” (a shelfmark?), edges gauffered and gilt, some repairs to the spine, hinges slightly fragile, but in very good condtion.  Dimensions 173 x 108 mm.


1. Printed in Paris and firmly dated June 23, 1507 in the colophon (sig. t8). A very rare imprint, known in only one other copy which is described in Tenschert and Nettekoven, 2003, vol. 2, pp. 473-478, no. 56, this manuscript is almost certainly the copy once owned by Ludwig Rosenthal (see below) that Tenschert and Nettekoven listed as lost.  For this edition, see Bohatta no. 835 and 843; Pettegree and Walsh, no. 6734 /USTC no. 182772 (no locations listed); Moreau, vol. I, p. 238, no. 105.   

Evidence of the text suggests this imprint was made for use in Spain; there is a Spanish prayer beginning on sig. t3v, and the calendar includes many Spanish saints, including Eulalia of Barcelona (12 February), and her translation (23 October), Braulio of Zaragoza (here 18 March, usually on 26 March), Exuperius of Pamplona (14 June), and Narcissus of Gerona (here on 29 October).  The Spanish saints are all notably from Catalonia, suggesting that the Book of Hours may have been for a northern Spanish (Catalan) audience.

2. Belonged early(?) to an institutional collection or perhaps a large private library, “XVI” on spine on leather label.

3. Ludwig Rosenthal, Munich, Catalogue 135 (no date), no. 1101 (early twentieth century; this catalogue is undated, but his catalogue 130 appeared in December 1909).

4. Erased inscription front flyleaf, f. i; pencil note in English from a dealer, f. i verso; price code in pencil back fly leaf, f. i verso.

5. Continental Private Collection.


sig. a1-a2 [Table of contents in Latin] Tabula omnium officiorum et orationum in presenti oratorio contentorum, ….;

sig. a2v-a4v [Computistical tables], Ad inueniendum litteram dominicalem; Ad inueniendum aureum numerum; Ad inueniendum festa mobilia; Tabula ad inueniendum festa mobilia quolibet anno; Tabula Signorum seu Minutionum;

sig. a5-b8v, Calendar, formatted with two pages per month, with cisiolanus verses and verses on the zodiac;

sig. c1-c4v, Speculum consciencie [ten commandments, seven mortal sins, the five senses, the seven works of corporal mercy, works of spiritual mercy, theological virtues, cardinal virtues, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven Sacraments, formula for confession];

sig. c5-e6v, Hours of the Passion, c5, Matins; d2, Prime; d3v, Terce; d5v, Sext; d8, None; e2v, Vespers, e4v, Compline;

sig. e6v-f3v, Passion according to John;

sig. f3v, Prayers including the Stabat mater; f5, Quindecim orations sequentes quis deuote cum totidem Pater noster et Aue maria …, incipit, “O suauitas et requies corporum … “;

sig. g1-g5, Gospel Pericopes:  John; g2v, Luke; g3, Matthew, g3v, Mark;

sig. g5-l4, Hours of the Virgin (use of Rome), g5, Matins; h2, Lauds; h7v, Prime; i2, Terce; i4v, Sext; i6v, None; i8v, Vespers; k4, Compline; l1, Changed Office for Advent;

sig. l4-l7, Mass of the Virgin, “Salve sancta parens”;

sig. l7-m2v, Hours of the Trinity;

sig. m2v-o7, Office of the Dead (use of Rome);

sig. o7v-q3, Penitential Psalms and Litany (beginning on p6v);

sig. q3-q5v, Hours of the Holy Spirit;

sig. q5v-q8, Hours of All Saints

sig. q8-r1, Hours of Corpus Christi;

sig. r1-r3, Hours of the Holy Cross;

sig. r3-r4v, Hours of Guardian Angel;

sig. r5-r6v, Hours of St. Barbara

sig. r7v-r8v, [Prayer], Sequitur oratio deuota ad ymaginem iesu christi …., incipit, “Salue sancta facies …”; “Obsecro te …”;

sig. s1-s7, Suffrages of Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John the Evangelist, Thomas, Philip and James, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude, John the Baptist, Luke, Mark, Stephen, Lawrence, George, Sebastian, Christopher, Nicholas, Anthony, Catherine, Anne, Mary Magdalene, and Margaret;

sig. s7-s8, [Seven prayers of St. Gregory], incipit, “Domine iesu christe adoro te in cruce pendentem …”;

sig. s8v, Suffrage of St. Michael;

sig. t1-t3v, [Prayer], incipit, “O dulcissime domine …”;

sig. t3v-t4, [Prayer in Spanish], incipit, “Enel comienco era el fijo de dios …”;

sig. t4-t7v, Hours of the Conception of the Virgin;

sig. t7v-t8, Suffrage of St. Roche;

sig. t8, [Colophon], Officia quotidiana siue horas bea/te marie breui pulcherrimoque stilo atque/ ordine compositas secundum vsum Ro=/mane ecclesie: cum pluribus memoriis et/ deuotissimis orationibus his annexis:/ finem sumpsisse cernens o lector/ deuo/tissime deo et suis corregnantibus gra=/tias age/ Impressoremque Thielmann=/um Keruer/ alme vniuersitatis parisi/ensis librarium iuratum: in magno vi=/co sancti Jacobi/ ad signum cratis co[m]=/morantem/ lauda: qui hoc opus Pari=/siis impressit.  Anno ab incarnatione/ domini Millesimo quingentesimo septimo/ die vicesimatertia mensis Junii; sig. t8v, [second colophon], Hore intemerate dei genitrices virginis marie secumdum [sic] vsum Romane ecclesie.

Published references:  Bohatta no. 835; see also no. 843 (=L. Rosenthal, cat. 135, no. 1101); Pettegree and Walsh, no. 6734 /USTC no. 182772 (no locations listed); Moreau, vol. I, p. 238, no. 105.  This imprint is not recorded in Lacombe; Bohatta II, 123 (=L. Rosenthal cat. 130, no. 74) is a Book of Hours in Spanish and not this imprint.  

This book was printed by Thielman (or Thielmann) Kerver, and it survives in only two known copies.  Apart from its extreme rarity, it is important as a very early example of a printed Book of Hours with in which the colored rubrics and initials are printed rather than being added by hand (in this copy, the painted initials completely obscure the printed initials).  

Kerver (active 1497-1522), a printer, bookseller and publisher (libraire juré) associated with the University of Paris, was born in Coblentz, Germany.  He moved to Paris to work as a bookseller, and, with the printer Jean Philippe, became interested in the publication of Books of Hours.  He printed his first independent book, entitled Hore beate Marie Virginis secundum usum Sarum for the Church of Salisbury in 1497, and he went on to become a highly successful publisher, known in particular for his Books of Hours, and establishing a publishing dynasty continued by his widow, Yolande Bonhomme, and son, Thielman Kerver (II). His shop was located on the rue Saint-Jacques (“In magno vico sancti Jacobi ad signum cratis,” On the rue Saint-Jacques “à l’enseigne du Gril”).


Subjects as follows:

Small metalcuts, all from the series by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver:

sig. a2v, Peter, within the circle for finding the dominical letter (Kerver’s calendar series);

sig. a3, James, within the circle for finding of the golden number (Kerver’s calendar series;

sig. d2, Buffeting of Christ;

sig. d3v, Carrying the Cross;

sig. d5v, Nailing Christ to the Cross;

sig. d8, Crucifixion;

sig. e2v, Lamentation;

sig. f3v, Crucifixion;

sig. g2v, Luke;

sig. g3, Matthew;

sig. g3v, Mark;

sig. l4, Madonna and Child with angels;

sig. r3v, Archangel Michael;

sig. r5, St. Barbara;

sig. r6v, Vernicle;

sig. r7, Madonna and Child;

sig. s1, Sts. Peter and Paul;

sig. s1v, St. James as a pilgrim;

sig. 1v, Martyrdom of St. John the Evangelist in boiling oil;

sig. 2v, Matthew;

sig. s3, Beheading of St. John the Baptist;

sig. s3, Luke;

sig. s3v, Mark;

sig. s3v, Stephen;

sig. s4, Martyrdom of St. Lawrence;

sig. s4, Martyrdom of St. Sebastian;

sig. 4v, St. Christopher carrying Christ;

sig. 5v, St. Nicholas;

sig. 5v, St. Anthony;

sig. s6, St. Catherine;

sig. 6v, St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read;

sig. 6v, Mary Magdalene;

sig. s7, St. Margaret and the dragon;

sig. s8v, Archangel Michael;

sig. t1v, Standing bishop;

sig. t7v, St. Roche as pilgrim;

Each month of the calendar includes small metalcuts of the labors of the month and the zodiac:  January, feasting and Aquarius, the water carrier; February, sitting by the fire and Pisces, the fish; March, pruning vines and Aries, the ram; April, hawking and Taurus, the bull; May, a couple on horseback and Gemini, the twins as an amorous couple; June, shearing and Cancer, the crab; July, harvest and Leo, the lion; August, scything hay and Virgo, the virgin; September, sowing and Libra, the balance; October, crushing grapes and Scorpio, the scorpion; November, harvesting acorns and Sagittarius, the archer; and December, sitting by the fire and Capricorn, the goat.

Eleven extensive marginal narratives supplement the full-page cuts, including (among others): Creation (sig. g2-g4), Typological Series, beginning sig. g5v (Nettekoven, 2004, abb. 235); Apocalypse, beginning sig. k8v (Nettekoven, 2004, abb. 28); Signs of the Apocalypse, beginning sig. m2, and the Dance of Death, beginning sig. o1.

Large metalcuts (all within Renaissance frames):

sig. c5, Arrest of Christ within a Renaissance frame (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver)

sig. f5, Christ with the cross, tomb and the instruments of the Passion (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver;

sig. g1v, Martyrdom of John the Evangelist (being boiled in oil) (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. g4v, Tree of Jesse (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. g5, Annunciation (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. h2, Visitation (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. h7v, Nativity (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. i2, Annunciation to the Shepherds (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. i4v, Adoration of the Magi (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. i6v, Presentation (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. i8v, Flight into Egypt (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. k4, Coronation of Mary (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman);

sig. l7v, Trinity with the signs of the four Evangelists (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. m7, Raising of Lazarus (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. o7v, Bathsheba bathing (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. q3v, Pentecost (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. r1v, Crucifixion (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

s7v, Christ with the Instruments of the Passion; repeating sig. f5;

sig. t4v, Immaculate Mary (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. t8v, Kerver’s early unicorn mark (Renouard, 1965, 501).

Kerver’s work is always distinctive, characterized both by the superior quality of his blocks and presswork.  This is a fine example of his craftsmanship, which uses metalcuts in two styles from two different artists.  With the presence of a numerous incunable cuts by the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne, the imprint continues the tradition of the very earliest printed Books of Hours.  These are joined by cuts from what could be called the “second phase” in the illustration of Books of Hours:  those of Jean Pichore first used in the late 1490s and traditionally considered to be more “Renaissance.”  This copy is not hand-colored, except for the small initials, thus revealing the fine engravings at their best.

The Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne (who is known by many other names in the literature, including the Master of the Apocalypse Rose of the Sainte-Chapelle, the Master of the Chasse à la licorne, the Master of the Life of Saint John the Baptist, and is perhaps identical with the painter Jean d’Ypres) worked in numerous media, including painted altarpieces, stained glass windows, designs for tapestries, illuminated manuscripts (his eponymous Book of Hours is Paris, BnF, NAL 1320 of 1498), and designs for woodcuts.  His style, as well as his repertory of models, establishes him as the artistic heir of the Master of Coëtivy, possibly identical with the painter, Colin d’Ypres (active 1450-1485).  The documented career of Jean d’Ypres from c. 1490 to 1508 corresponds with that of the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne.  The volume and diversity of his artistic production in the international arena of the Parisian art market at the beginning of print culture suggest a flourishing workshop rather than a lone individual.

The remaining metalcuts in this book were designed by the workshop of Jean Pichore. Although Pichore was mainly an illuminator, and the head of a large and productive workshop in Paris, he also designed metalcuts.  Pichore was active in Paris, although Cardinal Georges d’Amboise, archbishop of Rouen was one of his major clients. 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 and he played an important role in supplying “Renaissance” designs for printed Books of Hours. The new style of Pichore was adopted by Kerver (and also other printers such as Simon Vostre and the Hardouin brothers) (see Tenschert and Nettekoven, 2003, and Zöhl, 2004).

Printed Books of Hours were one of the mainstays of Parisian publishers and printers in the Renaissance; countless editions were produced between 1488 and 1568. The new technology of printing 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.


Bohatta, Hanns. Bibliographie der Livres d’Heures: Horae BMV, Officia, Hortuli Animae, Coronae BMV, Rosaria und Cursus BMV des XV und XVI Jahrhunderts, Vienna, 1924.

Brunet, Charles Jacques. “Notice sur les Heures Gothiques Imprimées à Paris à la fin du quinzième siècle et dans une partie du seizième,” Manuel du libraire et de l’amateur de livre, Paris 1864.

Lacombe, P. Livres d’heures imprimés au XVe et XVIe siècle conservés dans les bibliothèques publiques de Paris, Paris, 1907.

Moreau, Brigitte. Inventaire chronologique des éditions parisiennes du XVIe siècle, Paris 1972- .

Nettekoven, I. Der Meister des Apokalypsenrose der Sainte Chapelle und die Pariser Buchkunst um 1500, Turnhout, 2004.

Pettegree, Andrew and Malcolm Walsby, eds.  French books III & IV : books published in France before 1601 in Latin and languages other than French, Leiden and Boston, 2012.

Renouard, Phillippe, Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens, libraires, fondeurs de caractères et correcteurs d’imprimerie, Paris, 1965.

Tenschert, Heribert and Ina Nettekoven. Horae B.M.V.:  158 Sundenbuchdrucke der Sammlung Bibermühle, Rotthalmünster, Antiquariat Heribert Tenschert, 2003, vol. 2, pp. 473-478, no. 56.

Zöhl, C. Jean Pichore: Buchmaler, Graphiker und Verleger in Paris um 1500, Turnhout, 2004.


“French Printed Books of Hours 1485-c.1550,” Database, Freie Universitäts Berlin (password required)

Universal Short Title Catalogue

BOH 144

Read full Description

Reference Number: 144
EUR 25400 GBP 22400 USD 30000