Vigilance and Prudence (and stickers): Books from the Brölemann Collection

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 16/52

Book of Hours for the Use of Rome (Hours of Étienne Thirion), Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1945‑65‑14, inside front cover (with Arthur Brölemann bookplate) and Book of Hours for the Use of Rome (Victorines d’Auxy Hours), Philadelphia Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1945–65–15, inside front cover (with Arthur Brölemann bookplate)

The motley assortment of bookplates, pencil-written price-codes, ballpoint pen descriptions, and, yes, stickers (or rather adhesive labels) that frequently populate the endpapers of many Medieval manuscripts in North American collections may seem extrinsic to the content of a book’s original text and illustrations. Yet there is an elite subset of manuscript scholars specializing in research on the later provenance of medieval codices that has devoted particular attention to such details. Often, their research can help us reconstruct the trajectory of a book that is otherwise lacking in historic ownership information.

Over the past two weeks, we examined the newly-named Hours of Étienne Thirion from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1945–65–14), both for the fascinating imprints left in the book by an early owner’s eyeglasses, and for the identity of the book’s original owner and the artist commissioned to paint its miniatures. As is well known, the book came to the PMA through the generosity of Mary Shell Collins, who donated this and seventeen other Medieval manuscripts to the museum in memory of her husband, Philip S. Collins, in 1945.[1] All but three of the books from the Collins collection are Books of Hours, making it an especially rich trove for this genre.

But who owned these books prior to their acquisition by Collins? The answer is easily provided by the armorial bookplates present in both books illustrated above, as well as a third PMA Book of Hours likely made in Provence (1945–65–8). These are the bookplates of Arthur Brölemann (1826–1904), president of the Tribunal de Commerce of the French city of Lyon and an ardent bibliophile. His Latin motto, “Vigilentia et Prudentia,” could just as well be a maxim for the modern provenance researcher! Arthur had acquired over 4,000 volumes by descent from his grandfather, Henri-Auguste Brölemann (1775–1854), who had formed his own collection between 1824 and his death in 1854.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 1945‑65‑8, Book of Hours for Rome Use, Flyleaf 1 verso   Philadelphia Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 1945‑65‑15, Book of Hours, Use of Rome (Victorines‑d'Auxy Hours), Inside front cover
PMA, 1945‑65‑14 and PMA, 1945–65–15, details of two different variants of the Henri-Auguste Bölemann labels

But how do we know for certain that the books first belonged not just to Arthur but also to Henri-Auguste? As it happens, the distinctive blue-edged octagonal number labels found in the lower left-hand corner of the inside front cover of each of these two books (but absent from the third) can be identified thanks to a fascinating blog post by Peter Kidd. As Peter showed, these stickers (which exist in four variants) have handwritten numbers that refer to their position within Henri-Auguste’s collection, as well as price codes that remain to be deciphered. The “A” number refers to the book’s order within what was apparently a handwritten catalogue. A rare printed catalogue of Arthur’s collection, published in 1897 (and available on Gallica), provides a concordance of these “A” numbers as well as a further set of “B” numbers from another early catalogue. And indeed, a “B” number can be found written in pencil (probably by Arthur) on the bookplate of the Victorines d’Auxy Hours. These numbers allow us to locate each book within the 1897 publication with ease (and in fact, in the Étienne Thirion Hours, the 1897 catalogue number is written at the bottom of the bookplate too).


As we can see from the entry in the 1897 catalogue on the right for the Victorines d’Auxy Hours, “B. 71” is included at the bottom, but not the “A 122” number seen on the octagonal label. However, an additional piece of evidence is given in the catalogue entry, namely that the book was part of the famed Yéménitz collection. This is a reference to Nicolas Yemeniz (1783–1871), another great bibliophile based in Lyon. Thus, we now have an additional, earlier piece of provenance information for this book, all thanks to our understanding of a sticker!

All three Brölemann books now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art were sold by Henri-Auguste’s great-granddaughter Blanche Bontoux (Mme. Étienne Mallet according to the nomenclature of the day), on May 4 and 5, 1926, at Sotheby’s London. From there, they were acquired by various booksellers and eventually offered to Collins.

[1] Carl Zigrosser, “The Philip S. Collins Collection of Mediaeval Illuminated Manuscripts,” Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 58, no. 275 (1962): 3–34,

Introducing the Hours of Étienne Thirion, hyperopic Receiver General of Montréal

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 15/52

Book of Hours for the Use of Rome (here identified as the Hours of Étienne Thirion), Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1945‑65‑14, fols. 25v–26r (end of the “Ave cuius conceptio” prayer and beginning of the Hours of the Virgin; owner kneeling in prayer before the Annunciation)

Last week, we examined the fascinating imprints left by eyeglasses in this Book of Hours from the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA 1945-65-14). Today, we’ll take a closer look at the identity of the book’s first owner, and the artist he commissioned to paint the book’s miniatures.

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1945‑65‑14, details of fol. 1r and lower pastedown (catalog clipping from Sotheby’s, London, May 4–5 1926; handwritten 20th-century notes with erroneous identification of heraldry)

When the book was described in the auction catalogue of the Étienne Mallet collection (Sotheby’s, London, May 4-5, 1926, lot 55; catalog clipping on folio 1r), and around the same time on the lower pastedown, it was noted that it displayed the arms of a certain “N. Champion d’Auxerre” or “d’Avalon,” and of “Minard,” the latter interpretation probably based on a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century inscription found on folio 3r.

1945‑65‑14, fols. 3r and 12r (with coats-of-arms erroneously identified as “Champion,” gules, a warrior carnation/or armed with a club and a shield; and “Mignard,” sable a cat sejant argent)

This suspect ownership information was repeated when the book was gifted to the PMA as part of the Philip S. Collins Collection,[1] and again shortly thereafter in the supplement to the de Ricci census.[2] Also noted in the 1926 auction and subsequently repeated was the presence of a finely written Latin inscription of a certain Stephano Thyrion on folio 2r, thought to be that of a later owner (“Iste heure pertinent Stephano Thyrion Receptore de monte regali”).

1945‑65‑14, fol. 2r and detail (inscription of Étienne Thirion: “Iste heure pertinent Stephano Thyrion Receptore de monte regali”)

Curious about the identity of this “Stephano Thyrion,” and not able to find any Champion or Minard heraldry comparable to that found in the book in any of the regular reference sources, I began to delve further into his name, which seemed to be a Latinization of the French Étienne Thirion. Indeed, some searching through La noblesse aux états de Bourgogne de 1350 à 1789, a nineteenth-century dictionary of Burgundian nobility (for the book’s miniatures appear to have been painted in Dijon–more on that below), reveals a certain Étienne Thirion II, whose father, likewise named Étienne, was “procureur” of Montréal (Monte Regali in Latin) in 1539. A procureur was a kind of public prosecutor or receiver general that can be equated with the Latin “receptore” title found in the inscription. The historic town of Montréal is located about eighty kilometers west of Dijon, today in the Yonne department. The collegiate church in that town contains choir stalls dating from 1522, vividly carved in a style that matches the miniatures of the Book of Hours. One can imagine Étienne coming close to these, when using his book at Mass, and remarking on his own good taste.

How can we be sure that this Étienne Thirion I was the man depicted in the book, and not just the early owner who inscribed its first folio? Crucially, the entry in La noblesse aux états de Bourgogne provides the heraldry of this family: “De… à un guerrier de carnation armé d’une masse et d’un bouclier.” (“Of… [unknown background color], a warrior carnation armed with a club and a shield”). While the fields in the coats-of-arms in our book are most definitely red and the color of the warrior gold and not carnation, this description is sufficiently close, and the presence of a warrior with a club and shield sufficiently unusual, to be able to identify the original owner of the book definitively as Étienne Thirion I, depicted kneeling in prayer with a book in the handsome miniature on folio 25v. Thirion’s coat-of-arms is depicted no less than three times in the manuscript: alone accompanying his portrait on folio 25v, hanging from a tree alongside that of his wife on the armorial frontispiece on folio 3r, and impaled with those of his wife on folio 12r. His wife’s identity remains a mystery, but her heraldry (sable a cat sejant argent) does not seem to be that of the Minard family as earlier descriptions of the manuscript had indicated. Perhaps a ailurophile heraldist will be able to find the answer.

As we already mentioned, the style of the manuscript’s decoration suggests that it was produced in Burgundy, likely Dijon, where in the early sixteenth century a rather scruffy, busy painterly style predominated.[3] The presence on folio 3v of an almanac for twenty years beginning in 1518 confirms a date of production on or shortly before that year.

   The martyrdom of St John; with the saint being tortured in a vat of boiling oil on the right and the Roman emperor Domitian sitting on his throne on the left and Latin text in letterpress on the verso. One impression of the 1511 Latin edition of a series of 15 woodcuts. c.1496-7 Woodcut
1945‑65‑14, fol. 11v (full-page miniature showing the Martyrdom of Saint John the Evangelist) and Albrecht Dürer, Martyrdom of Saint John the Evangelist, 1496–97, London, British Museum, E,3.130

While the style of the book’s decoration and miniatures is somewhat rough, the overall effect is not without interest. The fanciful all’antica-style architectural frames are rendered in a thin wash of gold, with definition provided by highlights of reddish orange. Most eye-catching are the full-page miniatures of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Evangelist, the composition of which is based on Albrecht Dürer’s Apocalypse woodcut print from 1496–97, and the Office of the Dead, which shows a group of Franciscan (?) monks and nuns and a man and woman mourning a naked dead body laid on a table.

1945‑65‑14, fols. 68v-69r (full-page miniature showing the Mourning over a Dead Body; beginning of the Office of the Dead)

The artist at work in the Book of Hours seems to be identifiable with the anonymous illuminator who decorated the Hours of Bénigne Serre (1482–1552), dated to 1524 and now in a private collection in Switzerland but fully digitized thanks to the work of the e-Codices project.[4] Serre was the son of a Dijon merchant, and was from a similar background as Thirion, having risen through the ranks of local administration to obtain a barony and a seigneury around the time he commissioned his Book of Hours. Though the PMA manuscript is considerably larger and less richly illuminated, the two Books of Hours share some remarkable similarities. Compare, for example, the playful putti and bas-de-page vignettes in both books’ Annunciation pages, or the climbing putti and spiral columns likewise shared across both manuscripts. Thus, in addition to being a convenient resting-place for Thirion’s eyeglasses (we suspect), this Book of Hours also serves as a precious new element in our understanding of sixteenth-century book illumination in the Burgundian capital.[5]

1945‑65‑14, fol. 26r; Book of hours of Bénigne Serre, 1524, Utopia, armarium codicum bibliophilorum (private collection, Switzerland), Cod. 103, fol. 33v

1945‑65‑14, fol. 11v; Book of hours of Bénigne Serre, 1524, Utopia, armarium codicum bibliophilorum (private collection, Switzerland), Cod. 103, fol. 26v

[1] Carl Zigrosser, “The Philip S. Collins Collection of Mediaeval Illuminated Manuscripts,” Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 58, no. 275 (1962): 3–34,

[2] Seymour de Ricci, Christopher Urdahl Faye, and W. H Bond, Supplement of the Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, (New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1962), 472, no. 25.

[3] For Dijonnais painting of this period, see the essays in Frédéric Elsig, ed., Peindre à Dijon au XVIe siècle (Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana, 2017), as well as François Avril, “Une personnalité inconnue de la Renaissance dijonnaise: l’enlumineur des Machéco (Oudot Matuchet?),” in Peindre en France à la Renaissance. 1, Les courants stylistiques au temps de Louis XII et de François 1er, ed. Frédéric Elsig (Milan: Silvana, 2011), 95–111.

[4] For the Hours of Bénigne Serre, see Jules Gauthier, “Le livre d’heures de Bénigne Serre (1524), livre de raison de la famille Bretagne (1641-1627),” Mémoires de la Commission des Antiquités du Département de la Côte-d’Or 15 (1910–1906): 165–78.

[5] For the broader artistic context in Renaissance Dijon, see Catherine Chédeau, Les arts à Dijon au XVIe siècle: les débuts de la Renaissance, 1494-1551 (Aix-en-Provence: Publications de l’Université de Provence, 1999).

A “Spectacular” Discovery: imprints of eyeglasses and their specific context in a Book of Hours

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 14/52

IMG_3169   IMG_6310
A volume with a rust stain from eyeglasses, presented with an actual pair of eyeglasses in front of it (exhibited in Le verre, un moyen-âge inventif, Musée National du Moyen-Âge-Thermes de Cluny, 20 September 2019 – 8 January 2018); Book of Hours for the Use of Rome, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1945‑65‑14, fols. 106v–107r (eyeglass imprints in the gutter)

The recent exhibition on glass in the Middle Ages (Le verre, un moyen-âge inventif, at the Musée National du Moyen-Âge-Thermes de Cluny) exhibited a famous rust-stain in an incunable caused by a pair of eyeglasses long forgotten inside the closed book.  The differential condensation of the metal frames around the lenses caused traces of oxidation to transfer to the paper surface over time. Presented evocatively in front of the book in the exhibition was an actual pair of late-medieval eyeglasses, excavated archeologically in a different context. Unsurprisingly, the original pair of eyeglasses responsible for the stain is long gone. And, in any case, since the incunable is a rather dry theological volume with few annotations, and the eyeglasses were left in for years, or possibly even decades or centuries, this is clearly the product of one-time forgetfulness. After all, how many items have we forgotten in our own books over the years?

1945‑65‑14, fols. 106v–107r (eyeglass imprints faintly visible in the gutter)

Less distinct, but perhaps more interesting, are multiple imprints of a single pair of glasses repeatedly left in an early-sixteenth-century French Book of Hours belonging to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA 1945-65-14), which I discovered to my astonishment while showing the book to my students in October 2018. Though eyeglass frames could be made of metal or wood, the double-ringed imprints suggest that in this case the frames were made of leather: the six pairs of contemporary spectacles thought to have belonged to Willibald Pirckheimer (discovered behind a bookcase at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Germany, in 1867) have hard leather frames with distinct ridges along their inner and outer radiuses.[1] One can imagine such objects producing exactly the kind of pattern we see several times in our own book, the faint outlines perhaps caused by the transfer of accumulated dirt and oil deposited on the frames. As is often the case with such subtle features on the parchment page, these imprints are more easily visible in person than through digital images, excellent though they may be. Two artificially enhanced images below show the double-circle patterns more distinctly.

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1945‑65‑14, fols. 107r and 109r (eyeglass imprints, contrast adjusted with image-processing software)

What is most fascinating about our example is that these circular traces all occur after the end of the primary texts in the Book of Hours, within a gathering written in a different script but undoubtedly added very close to the date of the main texts’ production (see the collation model within the Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis interface for more detail). The gathering contains prayers to be recited at specific points during the Mass: at Confession, before receiving the Host, and after receiving the Host. The absent-minded (or perhaps convenient) deposit of spectacles in the gutter of a book at such moments reminds us of Canon van der Paele’s famous likeness by Jan van Eyck.

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Jan Van Eyck, The Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele, 1434–36, Bruges, Groeningemuseum (detail), image from the Closer to Van Eyck project

More examples of spectacle imprints in manuscripts and early printed books survive than one might first imagine. As scholars begin to pay more attention to the usage histories of medieval and early modern books, discoveries of this sort continue to be made. One can assume that many more such traces, some fainter than others, survive undetected in books around the world. We even have numerous pairs of sixteenth-century eyeglasses that exist (outside of books), kept as souvenirs of distinguished users. The interest of the present discovery, however, lies in the fact that it occurs in a very particular point within a Book of Hours, and thus offers us the possibility to reconstruct a specific use context. While in the comfort of the user’s home there would presumably have been other places to leave one’s glasses, bringing the book to Mass required finding a safe place to put valuable spectacles between the recitation of Eucharistic prayers and the procession forward to receive the consecrated host.

1945‑65‑14, fols. 25v–26r (end of the “Ave cuius conceptio” prayer and beginning of the Hours of the Virgin; owner kneeling in prayer before the Annunciation)

As if this weren’t a specific enough context, the first owner of this book and the probable proprietor of these now-vanished spectacles is actually depicted in the book itself, in prayer, reading–glasses free–from a Book of Hours. What is more, his identity, never before pinpointed, can be deduced with near-certainty, along with that of the artist who painted the miniatures. But for this, you’ll have to wait for next week’s post!

[1] For the early history of eyeglasses and their relationship to the evolution of print, see John Dreyfus, “The Invention of Spectacles and the Advent of Printing,” The Library 10:2 (1988): 93–106. For images of eyeglasses, see Vincent Ilardi, Renaissance Vision From Spectacles to Telescopes (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2007).


Beware the Spanish inscription: A French Book of Hours, an Admiral, and an Iberian patron(?)

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 13/52

Book of Hours, Use of Rome, France, ca. 1475, Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Lewis E 212,  fols. 31r and 210v (beginning of the Hours of the Virgin with miniature of at Annunciation, and subsidiary scenes from the Life of the Virgin; suffrage of Saint Catherine with small miniature, showing rotunda-style script and the work of a second artist)

The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Lewis E 212 is a quite finely produced and well-preserved French Book of Hours of around 1475. Looking closely at its miniatures, we can determine that they are by two distinct artists: a more skilled and possibly younger artist, likely trained in Tours, was responsible for the pastel-like calendar vignettes and thirteen small miniatures; another artist, likely trained in Paris, produced the eleven large miniatures and their borders, as well as the small miniature for the Obsecro te. We prefer the luscious style of the former, as evidenced by the lovely calendar scenes. But who are we to judge?

Lewis E 212, fols. 2r–13v (details of calendar vignettes with labors of the months and signs of the zodiac)

However, what grabs our attention more than the division of labor between two distinct artists trained in Paris and Tours respectively, a phenomenon that is well-attested elsewhere elsewhere,[1] is the book’s calligraphy. The manuscript’s large, clear, southern Rotunda script is unusual for a manuscript completed in the Loire Valley or Paris, and is more typical of manuscripts produced in Spain or Italy. In fact, a barely discernible inscription at the top of folio 1r is written in Spanish; this is likely what prompted Seymour de Ricci to state that it “was in Spain, ca. 1600” when he described the manuscript over eighty years ago.

  Lewis 212
Lewis E 212, fol. 1r (prayer in Spanish, with contrast-adjusted detail)

A close inspection of the inscription shows that the first line reads “La oracion del emperador…,” while the second ends with instructions for when the prayer is to be recited: “…in la mañana y a la noche.” The presence of this inscription, coupled with the unusual Rotunda script of the manuscript, point, perhaps, to it being originally intended for a Spanish patron. The production of bespoke manuscripts for the Spanish market was relatively frequent in the Netherlands (and we in fact encountered it previously in a Book of Hours from Lehigh University), but it is very unusual for France.

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Lewis E 212, upper cover (with arms of Jean-Louis Girardin de Vauvré); Portrait of Jean-Louis Girargin de Vauvré, after Hyacinthe Rigaud

The later ownership of the manuscript by the superintendent of the French Navy Jean-Louis Girardin de Vauvré (1642–1724), confirmed by the presence of his arms on the binding (a shield with three bird heads), is interesting, as he was heavily involved in the War of the Spanish Succession. Though we have no precise knowledge of his book collecting habits, as a highly mobile Naval official he would have had ample opportunity to acquire such a book during his travels.

Image result for Lydia Thompson Morris   1928-7-121-cons
Photo of Lydia Thompson Morris, University of Pennsylvania, Morris Arboretum Archives; Portrait of Isaac Paschall Morris by a Follower of Thomas Sully, ca. 1835–40, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928-7-121

Incidentally, the book’s presence in the collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia is due to the generosity of Lydia Thompson Morris (1849–1932), who donated historic Cedar Grove house (in West Fairmount Park) to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Together with her brother John, she owned the large Compton estate in Chestnut Hill that was to become the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. Lydia and John Morris had inherited much of their wealth from their father, Isaac Paschall Morris (1803–1869), who had grown wealthy supplying iron fittings for ships.

[1] See Thomas Kren, “Seven Illuminated Books of Hours Written by the Parisian Scribe Jean Dubreuil, c. 1475–1485,” in Reading Texts and Images: Essays on Medieval and Renaissance Art and Patronage in Honour of Margaret M. Manion, ed. Bernard J. Muir (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002), 157–200.

Traces of use (and a Pilgrim’s badge!) in a well-traveled Book of Hours

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 12/52

Book of Hours, Use of Rome, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, 1945‑65‑11, beginnings and miniatures for suffrages to Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Anthony Abbot, pp. 277 and 279

Last week, we looked at the fanfare-style binding of a dainty yet otherwise apparently relatively unremarkable Book of Hours produced in France in the mid-fifteenth century. Yet the book’s pages actually contains a whole variety of additional clues as to its early use. These seemingly small traces showcase several of the kinds of early ownership information we can sometimes extract when we look closely at a Books of Hours. Amazingly, all of this evidence existed within the book before it was given its current, eye-catchingly tooled binding at the end of the sixteenth century.   This is an image of 286 from Philadelphia Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 1945‑65‑11, Book of Hours, Use of Rome (France, 1445 - 1455).
1945‑65‑11, full-page miniature of Saint Adrian with interlaced initials I-Z and effaced coat-of-arms, p. 286 (with detail)

For example, a full-page miniature on the book’s final page bears a handsome-yet-damaged image of Saint Adrian of Nicomedia (recognizable by his anvil and lion), backed by a cloth-of-honor set within a Gothic architectural space and surrounded by an emblematic border, each bearing the unidentified interlaced initials “I-Z.” A coat-of-arms, unfortunately obliterated, is set below the miniature. This image was likely added to the book in the last two decades of the fifteenth century, either in Northern France or the Netherlands, judging by the general style of the miniature. The specific details of Adrian’s fur-lined cap and armor, the latter painted with powdered silver pigment that has oxidized to black, also point to a date slightly before the year 1500. Note the similarities and differences with this image of Saint Adrian by the Master of Jacques of Luxembourg, dated to between 1466 and 1470.

  This is an image of 262 from Philadelphia Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 1945‑65‑11, Book of Hours, Use of Rome (France, 1445 - 1455).
1945‑65‑11, end of “Obsecro te” prayer with early ownership inscription, p. 262 (with detail)

On page 262, the book contains a crude, barely decipherable ownership inscription that seems to read: “Votre serviteur Jeanne.” A suffrage to Saint Michael is indicated by a rubric on this page, but it has been excised. Clearly, the book was subject to some modifications early in its lifetime. There are also a number of prayers added to the text by an early, yet not original hand, mostly relating to the Conception of Christ.

1945‑65‑11, inscription referring to Hippolyta Maria, duchess of Calabria, p. 34

Most interesting of all are two details, both on p. 34. In a careful but not necessarily professional hand, in Italian, we read “La nostra cara sorella che ne ama più che si stessa Hippolyta Maria duchessa de Calabria.” If this is an ownership mark, it must refer to either Ippolita Maria Sforza (1446-1484), wife of Alfonso, Duke of Calabria, or her granddaughter, Ippolita Sforza (1493-1501), who died at the tender age of eight while engaged to Ferdinand of Aragón, Duke of Calabria. Is it an autograph signature, however, or is it merely making reference to “our dear sister who loves others more than herself”? More research into the handwriting of these individuals may provide an answer.

This is an image of 34 from Philadelphia Museum of Art Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs 1945‑65‑11, Book of Hours, Use of Rome (France, 1445 - 1455).
1945‑65‑11, outline of sewing holes for a lead or tin pilgrim badge, p. 34 (detail)

But perhaps most remarkably of all, on the lower left side of the same page as the Italian inscription, a faint, bust-shaped mark is visible. This pattern is the outline of sewing holes once used to attach a lead or tin pilgrim’s badge to the page. This practice is attested in other, much more famous books, and it migrated into virtual marginal representations in certain Netherlandish Books of Hours as well.[1] Below are examples of: A), actual pilgrim badges still sewn into the flyleaves of a book; B), multiple offsets of pilgrim badges similar in appearance to ours, and: C), illusionistically painted badges in the border of a so-called Ghent-Bruges style manuscript. Perhaps a detailed look through the Kunera pilgrim badge database will yield some potential candidates for badges that might match our (former) badge in terms of shape and size. As is evident from the pattern left on the page, it consisted of a haloed head and bust, possibly representing Christ. Happy hunting, insignophiles!
A) Book of Hours, Bruges, c. 1440–1460. The Hague, Royal Library of the Netherlands, 77 L 60, fols. 97v–98r (surviving sewn-in pilgrim badges)

B) Book of Hours, Netherlands, c. 1450–1500. San Marino, Huntington Library, Garrett HM 1136, fol. 1r (offsets from sewn-in pilgrim badges)

C) Book of Hours of Engelbert of Nassau, Netherlands, c. 1470–1490. Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 219, fol. 16v (illusionistic pilgrim badges)

[1] There is an extensive literature on pilgrim badges in Books of Hours. See, with additional bibliography, Megan Foster-Campbell, “Pilgrimage through the Pages: Pilgrims’ Badges in Late Medieval Devotional Manuscripts,” in Push Me, Pull You: Imaginative and Emotional Interaction in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art, edited by Sarah Blick and Laura D. Gelfand (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 227–76; Hanneke Van Asperen, Pelgrimstekens op perkament: Originele en nageschilderde bedevaartssouvenirs in religieuze boeken (c. 1450-c. 1530) (Nijmegen: Nijmegen University Press, 2010); Isabel von Bredow-Klaus, “Heilsrahmen: spirituelle Wallfahrt und Augentrug in der flämischen Buchmalerei des Spätmittelalters und der frühen Neuzeit” (unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Trier, 2003); Kurt Köster, “Gemalte Kollektionen von Pilgerzeichen Und Religiösen Medaillen in Flämischen Gebet- Und Stundenbüchern Des 15. Und Frühen 16. Jahrhunderts: Neue Funde in Handschriften Der Gent-Brügger Schule,” in Liber Amicorum Herman Liebaers, edited by France Vanwijngaerden (Brussels: Crédit Communal de Belgique, 1984), 485–535.

A “fanfare” for a musical printeress in late-sixteenth-century Paris

Fifty-two discoveries from the BiblioPhilly project, No. 11/52

Book of Hours, Use of Rome, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, 1945‑65‑11, upper and lover covers (with “LUCRECE DU GUE” inscription)

A small mid-fifteenth-century Book of Hours now in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, PMA 1945-65-11, is housed in a beautifully preserved gilt-tooled à la fanfare binding that can be dated stylistically to the end of the sixteenth century. These distinctive and highly prized bindings are most closely associated with bookbinders working in Paris between about 1570 and 1630, and are identifiable by their geometrical “strapwork” designs, which are usually comprised of ribbons that feature a single gilt line on one side, and a double line on the other.[1] The way that this design cue creates the illusion of relief on the surface of the cover is especially evident here.

This binding is particularly closely related to those associated with Clovis Ève (active between 1583 and 1633), a famous French bookbinder who became the fifth official “relieur du roi” (binder to the King), following the retirement of his father, Nicolas Ève. Clovis served the French Kings Henri III, Henri IV, and Louis XIII, producing some truly spectacular showpiece bindings. Nevertheless, attributions to him of simpler bindings such as ours remain controversial. Still, there are some clear similarities between our binding and others thought to have been made by Ève fils. Compare the layout and shape of the rectangular compartments and semicircular notches along the border with this example from the University of Amsterdam Special Collections Library, described by Pam van Holthe:

Le Psaultier, qui est le livre des Pseaumes de David, declarez, par breves annotations & gloses entre les versets [Lyon] : [Jean de Tournes], 1559 (bound with other texts). Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam Special Collections Library, OTM: Band 2 D 12 (1), upper and lower covers

Or this, a less well-preserved specimen from the British Library (which similarly encloses a French Book of Hours):

Heures a lusaige de Romme toutes au long. Sans riens requerir. Auec plusieurs suffraiges et orations tāt en latin que en francoys nouuelement Imprimes a paris (Paris: 1521). London, British Library, c41c13, upper and lower covers

But who would have commissioned such an ornate (and costly) binding over a century after this book was produced? The answer is provided by medallions found at the centers of the upper and lower covers on our book, which contain the letters “LUCRECE” and “DU GUE” respectively. This first and last name is undoubtedly identifiable with the noted printeress Lucrèce Dugué (1544–1615), daughter of Perrette Edinthon and Jean Dugué (the French King’s organist).[2] As the widow of Robert I Ballard (c. 1525–1588) and mother of Pierre I Ballard (c. 1580–1636), Dugué continued her husband’s printing firm, which had the monopoly on all forms of musical printing at the time. During the last decades of her lifetime, she continued to run the family shop located at the sign of Mount Parnassus on the Rue Saint-Jean de Beauvais, right in the heart of the Parisian book trade. It is, of course, unsurprising that such a well-connected figure would have had access to the services of a prestigious binding workshop, even for a personal devotional book. But it is likewise interesting that the owner of a firm so invested in the technology of print would opt to embellish a manuscript Book of Hours which must have appeared dated at the time. However, as we have seen with other sixteenth-century owners, the cachet of beautiful manuscripts remained strong, well into the age of moveable type!

Not wanting to judge a book exclusively by its cover, next week we’ll look more closely at some of the earlier evidence of use found within this book.
1945‑65‑11, view of spine, fore-edge, head, and tail

[1] For à la fanfare bindings, see Anthony Hobson, “Three Bindings à la Fanfare and the Origins of the Fanfare Style,” in The Arcadian Library: Bindings and Provenance, edited by Giles Mandelbrote and Willem de Bruijn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 177–192; José Ruysschaert, “Les reliures ‘a la fanfare’ des collections vaticanes,” Bulletin de la Société des Bibliophiles de Guyenne (July–December 1967): 161–203; and Geoffrey D. Hobson, Les reliures à la fanfare: le problème de l’s fermé (Amsterdam: Gérard Th. van Heusden, 1970;original edition 1935).

[2] See Roméo Arbour, Dictionnaire des femmes libraires en France, 1470–1870 (Geneva: Droz, 2003), 50, s.v. “Ballard”; Stanley Sadie, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 2 (London, Macmillan, 1980), 83.