Small gem of a book, printed on vellum and carefully illuminated in vibrant colors.  Measuring only 3 ¼ x 2 inches, this miniature Parisian Book of Hours, survives as a charming example of one of the most important types of books printed in sixteenth-century Paris.  Its metalcuts show off the skill of the printer, whose shop was especially known for illuminated Books of Hours, and the illuminator.  This is a very rare imprint, not listed in any of the standard sources, and almost certainly a unicum. 

i (parchment) + 120 + i (parchment) folios on parchment, missing one leaf at the beginning (collation A8 [first leaf is lacking, but has been replaced] B-P8), all quires signed, first half of the quire only, with a majuscule letter and beginning with quire C, “Ro” indicating liturgical use on the first leaf, and then with letters and Roman numerals, traces of frame ruling in light red occasionally visible (justification 63 x 35 mm.), printed in Gothic font in twenty-five long lines in black ink, KL-initials (calendar) in liquid gold on dark pink or blue grounds, 1- to 2-line initials throughout in similar liquid gold on dark pink or blue grounds, 15 large metalcuts (including the title page which is a replacement) in architectonic liquid gold frames with dangling cords and tassels, set over six lines of text, all metalcuts hand-painted in bright colors with liquid gold, stains, blue background of some initials smudged, sig. A8, loose. Modern (18th- or 19th century) brown leather binding with simple blind-tooled borders on both covers, gilt edges, worn along the joints, with the joint on the upper cover beginning to split, but in good condition. Dimensions 82 x 50 mm.


1. Printed in Paris by Germain Hardouyn, with an almanac for the years 1534-1546, suggesting a date of printing c. 1534. Germain was a printer in Paris from some point early in the sixteenth century; he took over for his brother, Gillet Hardouyn or Hardouin (a printer active in Paris from 1491 until 1521/1523) in 1521/1523, and continued until 1541 (see Renouard, 1965, pp. 197-198; Müller, 1970, p. 76).

This is a very rare imprint, not listed in Bohatta, 1924, Brunet,1860-1865, Lacombe, 1907, Moreau-Renouard, 1972-2004, or in USTC or BP16, suggesting that it is almost certainly the only surviving example.

2. Inside front cover, traces of bookplate(?), now thoroughly removed; f. 1, two prices recorded in pencil.


sig. A1, Title-page, [a replacement], Heures a lusaige de Rome; [f. A1v, blank];

sig A2, [prayer], Sequitur o salutaris hostia;

sig A2v, Almanac for the years 1534-1546; 

sig. A3-B3, Calendar;  

sig. B3v-B6, Gospel lessons; 

sig. B7-C5 verso, Passion according to John; followed by prayers, Septem gaudia spiritualia beatissime virginis marie, and incipit, “Alme redemptoris …”; 

sig. C6-h7 Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome, with the Hours of the Holy Cross and Holy Spirit worked in: sig. C6, Matins; D8, Lauds; E6, Matins Holy Cross; E7v, Matins Holy Spirit; E8v, Prime; F3, Prime Holy Cross; F3v, Prime Holy Spirit; F4, Terce; F6v Terce Holy Cross; F7, Terce Holy Spirit; F7v, Sext; G2, Sext Holy Cross (with incorrect rubric labelling it as Terce); G2, Sext Holy Spirit; G3None; G5v, None Holy Cross; G6, None Holy spirit; G6v, Vespers; H2v, Vespers Holy Cross; H3, Vespers Holy Spirit; H3v, Compline; h6, Compline Holy Cross; h6v, Compline Holy Spirit; 

sig., h7, Salve regina

sig. h7v-I 3, Changed Office; 

sig. I 3-I3 v, incipit, “Ave regina celorum …”;

sig. I 4-K6v, Penitential Psalms; followed by litany and prayers; 

sig., K7-N5 Office of the Dead (use of Rome);

sig. N5v-N6v, Prayers for the dead, Oratio pro fidelibus defunctis;

sig. N6v- O5 Suffrages; 

sig. O5-O7, Obsecro te

sig. O7-P1, O intemerata

sig. P1-03v, Mass of the Virgin; 

sig. P3v-P4, Seven Prayers of St. Gregory; 

sig. P4-P7, Prayer of St. Augustine; 

sig. P7rv, Table of contents, concluding “Laus deo”: 

sig. P8, Sensuyuent les foires de lyon …, followed by the Colophon,  incipit, “Ces presentes heures a lusai-/ge de Romme toutes au long sans/ requerir ont estre nouuellement im-/primees a Paris par Germain/ Hardouyn marchant et Libraire/ Jure de Luniuersite de Paris de-/mourant audit lieu entre les deux/ portes du Palays a lenseigne de/ saincte Marguerite./ [followed after a blank space by verses in French], incipit, “Chascun soit content de ses biens/ Car qui ua soufrisance il ua riens” [sig. P8v, blank]. 

This book was printed by Germain Hardouyn, a printer, bookseller and publisher (libraire juré) associated with the University of Paris, and also an illuminator, who was active from 1500-1541.  Many of his earlier books were published and printed with his brother Gilles. He then went on to publish books by himself, as is the case here. 


One added metalcut (title page) and 14 metalcuts above six lines of text, in gold architectural frames with tassels, measuring c. 50 x c. 35 mm., without the frame, 35-32 x 20 mm., except Job, which is 50 x c. 45 mm., without the frame 41 x 31 mm. 

Subjects as follows:

Sig A1 [Added title page], Virgin and Child; 

sig B3v, [John’s Gospel], John the Evangelist; 

sig. B7v, [Passion according to John], Crucifixion; 

sig. C6, [Hours of the Virgin, Matins], Annunciation (cf. Tenschert and Nettekoven, 2003, no. 145, c. 1526, small picture series, Bossozel-Hardouin, which omits the lectern, but is otherwise similar); 

sig. D8, [Lauds], Visitation;

sig. E6, [Hours of the Cross], Crucifixion with Mary and John, bit smudged with trace of the metalcut visible (cf. Tenschert and Nettekoven, 2003, no. 145, c. 1526, small picture series, Bossozel-Hardouin);

sig. E7v, [Hours of the Holy Spirit], Pentecost (cf. Tenschert and Nettekoven, 2003, no. 145, c. 1526, Small picture series, Bossozel-Hardouin);

sig. E8v, [Prime], Nativity;

sig. F4, [Terce], Annunciation to the Shepherds;

sig. F7v, [Sext], Adoration of the Magi;

sig. G3, [None], Presentation in the Temple (Christ smudged);

sig. G6v, [Vespers], Flight into Egypt, traces of the under-engraving visible;

sig. H3v, [Compline], Coronation of the Virgin.

sig. I4v, [Penitential Psalms], Bathsheba bathing while David watches;

sig. K7, [Office of the Dead], Job on his dungheap with his wife (her face slightly smudged) (cf. 1536 agenda-format Hours, TM 180BOH, fig. 1).

The most striking feature of this hand-illuminated printed Book of Hours is its size; it is remarkably small. Germain Hardouyn produced a number of very small Books of Hours; a very few, like this one, are extremely small books in a traditional format, while others are in “agenda” format, i.e. very small with a distinctive long and narrow shape (for an example on this site, see TM 180-BOH, fig. 1). Imprints in these unusual formats all tend to be quite rare.  Many survive in only a single copy (on these smaller and unusual formats, see “Sehr kleine Studenbucher und andere Sonderformate der Spatzeit” in Tenschert and Nettekoven, 2003, vol. III, and Nettekoven, Tenschert und Zöhl, 2014-2015, vol. VIII).  Germain Hardouyn’s tiny printed Book of Hours must have been, at least in part, the publisher’s response to the fashion for very small illuminated Books of Hours at the French royal court, including the Petites Heures of Charles VIII of c. 1490-1493(73 by 49 mm.; Les Enluminures), the famous Très Petites Heures of Anne of Britanny, c. 1498(66 by 46 mm., Paris, BnF, MS n.a.l. 3120), and the Prayer Book of Claude de France, 1517 (69 x 49 mm., New York, Morgan Library & Museum, MS M. 1166, fig. 2). 

Hardouyn’s first experiment with a Book of Hours in a very small format was printed for him by Jean Barbier c. 1516, measuring only 48 x 53 mm. (justification 41 x 25 mm.) (Paris, BnF, Vélins 1537, Lacombe, 1907, no. 299, records the justification as only 30 x 20 mm.; see also Brunet, 1860-1865, no. 252).  A second example, with an almanac from 1526-1544, was printed by Bossozel for Hardouyn.  In many ways, this book is quite close to our Book of Hours: with similar dimensions (82 x 50 mm.; justification 60 x 35 mm.), number of folios, and collation.  However, the c. 1526 book has only 23 lines, whereas our volume has 25 (see Tenschert and Nettekoven, 2003, no. 145; Lacombe, pp. 200-201, no. 358).  Hardouyn commissioned a series of small metalcuts for the c. 1526 Book of Hours, and some of the metalcuts in our volume may be from this series (for example, the Annunciation, the Crucifixion with Mary and John, and Pentecost; the compositions are generally similar, although because the artists that did the over-painting had a free hand, details do differ).  Based on available comparisons published in Tenschert and Nettekoven (2003, no. 145), other miniatures in our book are certainly not from this earlier series, suggesting Hardouyn had access to a new series for our imprint. We also note that a c. 1547 edition by Jehan Hardouyn (Lacombe, no. 437) may be related to our Book of Hours, since Lacombe mentions the presence of Les foires de Lyon, and the verses, “Chacun soit content …,” which precede and follow the colophon in the Book of Hours described here, although we have not seen this later edition.

The illustrations in our volume are very carefully and thoroughly over-painted.  Traces of the engraving can be discerned in just two of the miniatures. Backgrounds tend to be delineated without much detail. The figures are rounded and rather plump. The palette features blue, mauve, red, and green, with frequent use of liquid gold for highlights.  Many, perhaps the majority, of the Books of Hours produced by the Hardouyn brothers are illuminated; they may have employed artists in-house, to decorate the books they printed (fig. 3). Maureen Warren has suggested that the illustrations in these Books of Hours were simplified substrates that were designed to be painted; rather than colored prints, one can think of them instead as “print-assisted paintings” (Online Resources).

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, at least in theory, introduced Books of Hours, a prayer book for the laity, to a broader audience; the growing urban middle class was one of the chief purchasers of these books.  Many printed Books of Hour, however, were luxurious productions, like this small gem of a book, which is printed on vellum and lavishly illuminated. 


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 1860-1865, Vol. 5, col. 1553-1684; Hardouyn, cc. 1628-1644.

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

Moreau, Brigitte and Renouard, Philippe Renouard, with G. Guilleminot-Chrétien and M. Breazu. Inventaire chronologique des éditions parisiennes du XVIe siècle, Histoire générale de Paris, 5 vols., Paris, 1972-2004, vol. 4, 1531-1535.

Müller, J. Dictionnaire abrégé des imprimeurs/éditeurs français du XVIe s., Paris, 1970.

Nettekoven, Ina, Heribert Tenschert und Caroline Zöhl. 365 gedruckte Stundenbücher aus der Sammlung Bibermühle. 1487-1586, Ramsen, Antiquariat Heribert Tenschert, 2014-2015.

Pettegree, Andrew, and Malcolm Walsby. French Books III & IV: Books Published in France Before 1601 in Latin and Languages Other Than French, Leiden, 2012.

Renouard, P. Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens, Paris, 1965.


Silvestre, L.-C. Marques typographiques, ou, Recueil des monogrammes, chiffres, enseignes, emblèmes, devises, rébus et fleurons des libraires et imprimeurs qui ont excercé en France, depuis l'introduction de l'imprimerie, en 1470 …, Paris, 1853.

Tenschert, Heribert and Ina Nettekoven. Horae B.M.V.: 158 Stundenbuchdrucke der Sammlung Bibermühle, Rotthalmünster, Antiquariat Heribert Tenschert, 2003.

Online Resources

Universal Short Title Catalogue
https://www.ustc.ac.uk/editions/185717 (citing Brunet, V, col. 1643, no. 275).

BnF, Base des éditions parisiennes du 16ème siècle, BP16

Germain Hardouyn

Maureen Warren, “The Mass-Produced Original: Printed Books of Hours,” Illinois, Krannert Art Museum

BOH 198

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