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Description

This lavish manuscript is the personal Book of Hours of Guillaume II Molé (d. 1507), a successful merchant specialized in the trade of salt and arms, alderman of Troyes, and member of a prominent family of bibliophile merchants from Champagne. A remarkable witness to the mobility of artists, patrons, and models in late medieval France, this Book of Hours was commissioned from the workshop of Guillaume Lambert that flourished in Lyons, at the crossroads between Northern and Southern Europe. Loaned by Alexander P. Rosenberg to the landmark exhibition The Last Flowering. French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530, from American Collections, organized at the Pierpont Morgan Library in 1982-1983, this manuscript is the name work of the Rosenberg Master, and has been the subject of extensive study. The thirteen full-page miniatures and thirty-four historiated initials of the Hours of Guillaume II Molé offer a rare and dazzling example of Lyons illumination; they also summon, through the variety of their models, the legacy of some of the greatest artists of fifteenth-century France: the Rohan Master, Jean Fouquet, and Jean Colombe.

i + 128 + i, folios on parchment, with 14 modern parchment flyleaves facing leaves with miniatures (f. 1, 9, 14, 21, 36, 44, 49, 52, 59, 66, 83, 86, 103, 129), modern ten-by-ten foliation in pencil in the lower left corner, including the parchment flyleaves, 1-143 followed here, lacking 3 leaves likely with full-page miniature and text, each replaced with a modern parchment folio supplying the missing text (f. 55, f. 90, f. 130), otherwise complete, mostly in gatherings of eight (collation, excluding flyleaves cited above: i2, ii6, iii-vi8, vii8-1+1, viii-xi8, xii8-1+1, xiii-xvi8, xvii8+1-1, xviii8, xix4), with occasional catchwords, modern quire signatures (alphabetical in the outer margin), and instructions to the illuminator partially trimmed, written in brown ink in cursive gothic bookhand on 24 lines, ruled in red (justification: 85 x 55 mm), rubrics in red, 1- to 2-lines initials throughout in gold on blue or red ground, touched with gold, one-sided panel border on every text page, often with motto “en attandant,” 24 calendar miniatures framed with gold within one-sided panel border, 34 five- to eight-lines historiated initials, 13 full-page miniatures, a few flakes, one stain (f. 87), a few faces partially rubbed, one overpaint (face of the Virgin Mary, f. 35v), otherwise in excellent condition. Bound in a 20th-century polished black calf, spine re-using an 18th-century green leather title-piece lettered in gilt capitals “Officium B.V.M. Cod[ex] in me[mbranis];” leather case, the front cover embossed with a monogram “AE”, the spine lettered in gilt capitals “Horae B.V.M.” and “Troyes.” Dimensions 153 x 102 mm.

Provenance

1. This Book of Hours was illuminated in Lyons by the Rosenberg Master for Guillaume II Molé (d. 1507), a prominent salt and arms merchant, and alderman of Troyes (Bibolet 2007, pp. 27-28). It is introduced by a full-page armorial frontispiece (f. 2) that represents Guillaume II Molé’s shield, in chief two stars or, in base a crescent argent, suspended from a helm with blue and gold mantling and with the crest of a putto. Two other putti support the helm, and each of them holds a scroll inscribed with the motto “EN ATTANDANT” (litt. “waiting for”). The same motto is seen on scrolls held by men within two historiated initials (f. 73v, 81v), and in several borders decorating the text pages throughout the manuscript. In eight of these borders, the motto is combined with the initials “GM” joined by a love-knot, undoubtedly Guillaume’s initials (f. 11v, 17, 17v, 84-84v, 85v, 88-88v). The textual content for the use of Troyes, the masculine form of the Obsecro te, and two generic portraits of a male patron (f. 132v, 135v) further support this identification.

On June 19th 1467, Guillaume Molé had married Simone Boucherat. The couple is known to have commissioned several works of art. Soon after their marriage, they funded the erection of the “beau portail” of the church Saint-Jacques-aux-Nonnains of Troyes, facing their house, under which portal they were respectively buried in 1507 and 1519. Their patronage is exemplified by the gift of stained-glass windows to local churches, among which stands out an entire upper window of the cathedral St. Peter and St. Paul of Troyes that represents the parabola of the prodigal son (fig. 1a). Presented by their patron saints St. Guillaume and St. Simon, Guillaume Molé and Simone Boucherat are portrayed on each side of the lower register alongside their son and daughter, kneeling at a prie-dieu decorated with their arms (fig. 1c, 1d). On the sides of the tympanum, two scrolls display the motto “EN ATTENDENT” that appears throughout the present manuscript (fig. 1b).

Guillaume Molé and Simone Boucherat also commissioned three illuminated manuscripts, two of them from the same workshop as the present Book of Hours. The first is a copy of Jean Gerson’s Passion de Nostre Seigneur Ihesus Christ, illuminated by members of Guillaume Lambert’s workshop, which first folio presents their coats of arms hanging from a tree (fig. 2; Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 25, f. 1) François Avril also attributes to their patronage a copy of the Faits des Romains, illuminated by the Master of the Alarmes de Mars, the most talented heir to Guillaume Lambert’s workshop (Brussels, Royal Library, MS 9040; see Avril, Hermant, and Bibolet 2007, p. 184). Finally, Jean-Baptiste Lebigue recently identified Guillaume Molé’s arms in the decorated initial introducing a copy of the Chevalier des Dames in the Vatican Library (MS Reg. Lat. 1362; Lebigue 2013).

Guillaume II Molé and Simone Boucherat also possessed a Book of Hours for the use of Troyes made for a woman in the 1420s, and attributed to the Rohan Master (Christie’s, 7 June 2000, lot 7). It might have been made for Jeanne Lésguisey, wife to Guillaume I Molé (1405-1459), who were the parents of Guillaume II. Around 1480, the latter and his wife commissioned a full-page armorial frontispiece from the Master of Guyot II Le Peley, active in Troyes, that was inserted at the beginning of the manuscript. This achievement of arms shares many similarities with the present miniature, although it differs in subtle ways. Indeed, the supporters are half-length naked youth rather than putti, the base of the helm is inscribed with the name “guillermus m.” rather than his motto, and it depicts both Guillaume and Simone’s coats of arms rather than only Guillaume’s. It follows that the present manuscript can be considered as Guillaume II Molé’s personal Book of Hours.

Guillaume II Molé belonged to an eminent family of Troyes merchants whose members often commissioned richly illuminated manuscripts. His younger brother, Jean I Molé (d. 1493), owned a Book of Hours illuminated by the famous Bourges artist Jean Colombe, in which he inserted his own portrait, commissioned from the Master of Guillaume Lambert in Lyons (fig. 3; Rodez, Société des Lettres, MS 1: see Avril and Reynaud 1993, pp. 335-336, no. 184). Jean I Molé’s coat of arms differs from that of his brother by the addition of a bordure engrailed or, distinguishing the younger branch of the family. The same is found in a copy of Guillaume de Nangis’ Chronique abrégée des rois de France (Paris, BNF, MS fr. 2598). After the death of Jean I in 1493, his elder son Claude Molé adopted the same coat of arms. The latter occurs in the armorial miniature of a Book of Hours commissioned in Paris from the Master of the Petrarch Triumphs around 1510 (New York, Morgan Library & Museum, MS M. 356; see Avril, Hermant, and Bibolet, 2007, p. 188, no. 44).

2. A separate note, already missing at the time of the 1977 auction (see below), is reported to have been written around 1820 and read “Col. Cooper, bought in Italy.”

3. H. Harvey Frost (1873-1969), his printed bookplate on the upper pasteboard: “From the Library of H. Harvey Frost”.

4. Sven Ericson, of Stockholm; sold Sotheby’s, London 13 July 1977, lot 76, bought by Laurence Witten.

5. William H. Schab Gallery, bought by Alexander P. Rosenberg on 27 March 1979.

6. New York, Collection of Elaine and Alexander P. Rosenberg, MS 5. His bookplate on the upper pasteboard, with initials “APR” and the motif of an open window and view of the sea, commissioned from Pablo Picasso c. 1935.

Text

ff. 3-8v, Calendar in French, with major feasts in red. Feasts characteristic of Troyes include St. Frodobert (8 Jan), St. Patroclus (19 Jan), St. Savinian, in red (24 Jan), St. Sabina (29 Jan), Translation of St. Savinian (2 March), St. Mastiadia, in red (7 May), Translation of St. Lupus of Troyes (10 May), St. Fidolus (16 May), St. Ursus (26 July), St. Camelianus (28 July), St. Lupus of Troyes, in red (29 July), and St. Bercharius (16 Oct); [f. 9-9v, blank, unruled];

ff. 10-13v, Gospel extracts; [f. 14-14v, blank, unruled];

ff. 15-20v, Passion according to St. John; [f. 21-21v, blank, unruled];

ff. 22-82, Hours of the Virgin, use of Troyes, “secundum usum ecclesiem trecensem,” with Matins (f. 22), Lauds (f. 35v), [f. 36-36v, blank, unruled], Prime (f. 43v), [f. 44-44v, blank, unruled], Terce (f. 48v), [f. 49-49v, blank, unruled], [f. 52-52v, blank, unruled], Sext (f. 53), [f. 56-56v, blank, unruled], [f. 59-59v, blank, unruled], None (f. 60), [f. 66-66v, blank, unruled], Compline (f. 67); variant readings from the Saturday before Advent to the Vespers of the Nativity’s Vigil (f. 69); variant readings from the Matins of the Nativity to the First Octave of the Purification (f. 76);

ff. 82v-85v, Hours of the Cross, [f. 83-83v, blank, unruled]; [f. 86-86v, blank, unruled];

ff. 87-88v, Hours of the Holy Spirit [incipit missing];

ff. 90-97, Penitential Psalms; ff. 97-102, Litanies and Prayers, including local saints of Troyes, Lupus, Frodobert, and Mastidia; [f. 103-103v, blank, unruled];

ff. 102v-128v, Office of the Dead, use of Troyes; [f. 129-129v, blank, unruled];

ff. 130-132v, Obsecro te, masculine form; ff. 132v-135v, O Intemerata; ff. 135v-136, Prayer to the Virgin, incipit, “Excellentissima domina et gloriosissima virgo;”

ff. 136-142, Suffrages, Christopher, f. 136; Sebastian, f. 137; Lawrence, f. 137v; Nicholas, f. 138; Anthony of Padua, f. 138; Claude, f. 138v; Katherine, f. 139v; Mary Magdalen, f. 140; Barbara, f. 140v; Margaret, f. 141; Agnes, f. 141v; Genovefa, f. 142; [f. 142v-143, blank, ruled in red].

Illustration

Thirteen full-page miniatures, all but one (f. 22) set within a gold architectural frame:

f. 2, Heraldic frontispiece of Guillaume II Molé (see above, Provenance);

f. 10, Saint John on Patmos;

f. 15, Arrest of Christ;

f. 22, Annunciation with scenes from the Life of the Virgin: the Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple, the Virgin weaving in her chamber, and the Marriage of the Virgin.  

f. 35v, Visitation [face of the Virgin overpainted];

f. 43v, Nativity;

f. 48v, Annunciation to the Shepherds;

f. 53, Adoration of the Magi;

f. 60, Presentation to the Temple;

f. 67, Dormition of the Virgin;

f. 82v, Crucifixion;

f. 87, Pentecost;

f. 102v, Funeral office.

Thirty-four five- to eight-lines historiated initials:

f. 11, St. Luke;

f. 12, St. Mark;

f. 12v, St. Matthew;

f. 64v, Man in prayer;

f. 69, Virgin and Child;

f. 70, A man;

f. 70v, A man;

f. 73, Visitation;

f. 73v, A man, holding a scroll inscribed “en atendan;”

f. 74, A man; Bust of the Virgin Mary;

f. 74v, A man;

f. 76v, Virgin Mary;

f. 78v, A man;

f. 79, Virgin Mary adoring the Christ Child;

f. 80, Virgin Mary in Prayer;

f. 80v, A man;

f. 81, A man;

f. 81v, A man, holding a scroll inscribed with “en atanda;”

f. 82, A man;

f. 97, Virgin Mary;

f. 118 A woman;

f. 125v, Resurrection of Lazarus;

f. 132v, Pieta with a masculine donor kneeling in prayer; 

f. 135v, Virgin and Child with a masculine donor kneeling in prayer;

f. 136v, St. Christopher crossing the river;

f. 137, Martyrdom of St. Sebastian;

f. 137v, St. Lawrence;

f. 139v, St. Katherine;

f. 140, St. Mary Magdalen;

f. 140v, St. Barbara;

f. 141, St. Margaret;

f. 141v, St. Agnes;

f. 142, St. Genovefa.

Twenty-four small calendar miniatures within floral panel border:

f. 3, January: Feast; Aquarius;                                          

f. 3v, February: Sitting by fire; Pisces;

f. 4, March: Pruning vines; Aries;

f. 4v, April: Young man with flower; Taurus;

f. 5, May: Young man with two flowers; Gemini;

f. 5v, June: Mowing; Cancer;

f. 6, July: Reaping; Leo;

f. 6v, August: Threshing; Virgo;

f. 7, September: Treading grapes; Libra;

f. 7v, October: Sowing; Scorpio.

f. 8, November: Beating oaks for pigs; Sagittarius.

f. 8v, December: Slaughtering pig; Capricorn.

This lavishly decorated manuscript is the name work of the Rosenberg Master, active in Lyons c. 1470-1500, who was part of the flourishing workshop of the scribe Guillaume Lambert. The latter is known from his own Book of Hours (fig. 6; New York, Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.1162), which ex-libris indicates that it was written in Guillaume Lambert’s house “near the portal” in 1484. Lynn F. Jacobs and Elizabeth Burin have assembled and studied a corpus of around thirty illuminated manuscripts, attributed to four main illuminators (Jacobs 1993; Burin 2002). These are the Getty Master (named after Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 10), the Rosenberg Master (named after the present manuscript), the Master of Guillaume Lambert (named after the Morgan manuscript), and the Boilly Master, or Master of BnF MS lat. 18015. Since Guillaume Lambert’s writing hand occurs in several manuscripts illustrated by these artists, Christopher de Hamel suggested that he acted both as a scribe and a stationer supervising this thriving enterprise (De Hamel 1986, p. 185), the most important bookshop in late fifteenth-century Lyons.

An economic capital city second only to Paris in the late fifteenth century, Lyons benefited from its location on the main commercial crossroad between Italy and the Netherlands. Merchants, noblemen and civic servants from abroad often resided in Lyons. This applies to Guillaume Molé, who is documented in Lyons as a merchant and a stranger in 1499 (Bibolet 2007, p. 27) and 1503 (Lévy 2017, p. 91, n. 10). Guillaume Lambert’s workshop supplied lavish manuscripts to such an international clientele, from the Lacroix of Montpellier to the Molé of Troyes, from the cardinal-bishop of Geneva to the Vettori family of Florence and the count Werner von Zimmern of Meßkirch, to mention but a few (on the clientele, see Burin 1999-2000).

The Rosenberg Master was first named by John Plummer in 1982-1983 in the landmark exhibition The Last Flowering. French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530, from American Collections, held at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, where the present manuscript was exhibited as no. 100 (Plummer 1982-1983). Stylistic features shared by the workshop include the clearly structured, full-length compositions; the men with strong cheekbones and long noses touched with white; the women with high foreheads, shaded temples, oval-shaped faces, and white complexions; the draperies falling in complex, angular, and highlighted folds, and the vivid palette (f. 87). The Rosenberg Master’s personal manner is distinguished in details such as the dark blue clouds in the skies from which divine radiance shines forth, or the towering rocks (f. 35v) and round trees edged with yellow highlights (f. 48v) punctuating the spacious landscapes. A series of historiated initials with close-up portraits of men and women (ff. 69-82) demonstrate a mastery in the modelling of the figures that is unexpected from this artist, for his draftsmanship has often been underestimated.

The Rosenberg Master contributed to the decoration of at least six of the workshop’s Books of Hours. Two were illuminated for specific patrons, as the extensive cycle of illustrations, the personalization of the decoration with initials and mottoes, and the extent of the secondary decoration demonstrate. The Hours of Guillaume II Molé matches these three criteria; indeed, reflecting on the entire production, Elizabeth Burin observes that the present manuscript “is the most lavishly decorated, with a panel border spanning the height of written space on each text page” (Burin 2002, p. 17). Another Book of Hours now in Lunel (Bibliothèque municipale, MS 9; fig. 4), was probably made for Guillaume Lacroix, a merchant, changer, and usurer who had become governor of Montpellier and sojourned in Lyons in 1495. Other Books of Hours likely to have been bought from the Rosenberg Master are now in Oxford (Keble College, MS 40), in the Vatican Library, dated 1478 (MS Vat. Lat. 3780), and in Badia di Cava, dated 1482 (Abbey Library, MS 45); the latter having been acquired by the Vettori family of Florence.

Manuscripts produced in Guillaume Lambert’s workshop are easily identified by a few distinguishing features, not to mention the similarities in the secondary decoration and script that were often entrusted to the same collaborators (Burin 2002, pp. 17-18). Most characteristic is the systematic framing of full-page miniatures with a gold architectural frame, according to a principle first developed by Jean Colombe in Bourges. The side frames imitate giltwood prismatic piers, occupied with statues of prophets and apostles set under Gothic canopies, while the upper and lower frames remain flat. Also characteristic is the inscription of the incipit on the lower frame, in black display capitals. Interestingly, some trimmed lower margins of the present manuscript preserve rare indications given by the scribe to the artist of the words to inscribe on the golden frames (ff. 10, 14, 87); on one instance, that is the Pentecost (f. 87), the Rosenberg Master forgot to include the incipit.

Also typical of the Lyons illumination is the consistency of the compositions, which were often conceived with the same models shared between members of the workshop. Compositions such as those of the Visitation (f. 35v), the Presentation to the Temple (f. 60) or the Dormition (f. 67) thus tend to recur from one manuscript to the next (fig. 5, 6). Most of these models were invented by Jean Fouquet in Tours, and had been diffused and simplified over time by Jean Colombe, to whom the Rosenberg Master borrowed the towering rocks used to punctuate the depth of his landscapes, and with whom the Getty Master might have trained. Examples of motifs invented in Fouquet’s Hours of Étienne Chevalier (Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 71) that occur in the present manuscript include the Betrayal (f. 15), with Malchus armed, holding the lantern, while St. Peter resheathes his sword; the Dormition (f. 67), with the Virgin lying on her deathbed seen in profile and surrounded with apostles; and the Crucifixion (f. 82v; fig. 7), with the Swooning Virgin and a soldier mounting a horse seen from the back in the foreground.

The most impressive miniature of Guillaume II Molé’s Hours is undoubtedly the Annunciation, set within a palatial chapel (f. 22), that opens the Matins of the Virgin, the most important office of a Book of Hours. The scene is enshrined within a golden architecture that extends onto the margins and distributes ancillary scenes from the Life of Mary: the Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple, having climbed the steps of the Altar of the Holocaust; the Virgin weaving; and the Marriage of the Virgin. An almost identical composition, painted in grisaille, occurs in a Book of Hours illuminated a few years later by the eponymous Master of Latin 18015 (fig. 8). François Avril has devoted a study to the diffusion of this remarkable composition in fifteenth-century France (Avril 2006, pp. 129-133). A first version had been created in Paris by the Mazarine and Bedford Masters, in manuscripts such as the Bonaparte and Bedford Hours. In the mid-fifteenth century, another version, probably based on the Rohan Master’s Virgin and Child in the Hours of Isabella Stuart (fig. 9; Cambridge, Fizwilliam Museum, MS 62), became increasingly popular between Brittany and Anjou. Stemming from the latter is the Annunciation of the Hours of Jeanne de France, illuminated around 1450 by the Jouvenel Master (fig. 10; Paris, BNF, MS nouv. acq. lat. 3244), which appears to be the closest to the Annunciation of the Hours of Guillaume II Molé.

Exhibitions

The Last Flowering. French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530, from American Collections, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 18 November 1982 to 30 January 1983, no. 100.

Literature

Published:

J. Plummer, with the assistance of G. Clark, The Last Flowering. French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530, from American Collections, New York/London, 1982, pp. 77-78, no. 100, ill. 100a-100b.

L. Jacobs, “The Master of Getty Ms. 10 and Fifteenth-Century Manuscript Illumination in Lyons,” The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, 1993, 21, pp. 55-83, citedpp. 56, 64-66, 69-71, 77, ill. 20, 26.

F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les Manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, cited pp. 320, 335, 359.

S. Hindman, The Robert Lehman Collection. IV, Illuminations, New York/Princeton, 1997, cited pp. 39, 42, 44.

E. Burin, Manuscript Illumination in Lyons (1473-1530), Turnhout, 2002, pp. 96-99, no 25, cited pp. 9-11, et passim, figs. 9, 12-14, 26, 76, 96.

E. Burin, “Patrons and Illuminators in Lyons: Shaping the Manuscript Market around 1500,” Manuscripta, 43-44, 1999-2000, pp. 45-64, cited p. 47, n. 7.

F. Avril, “Les copies à répétition. À propos de la circulation et de la dissémination des modèles,” in S. L’Engle and G. B. Guest (eds.), Tributes to Jonathan J.G. Alexander. The Making and Meaning of Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts, Art & Architecture, London/Turnhout, 2006, pp. 127-140, cited p. 132.

F. Avril, “Heures de [Jean ?] Molé,” in Très Riches Heures de Champagne. L’enluminure en Champagne à la fin du Moyen Âge, ed. F. Avril, M. Hermant, and F. Bibolet, Paris/Châlons-en-Champagne, 2007, cited p. 184.

T. Lévy, Les Peintres de Lyon autour de 1500, Rennes, 2017, cited p. 91, n. 10.

A. Bergeron-Foote, “Extrait des Heures de Drulhon-Fayete,“ in B. Dunn-Lardeau, Catalogue raisonné des livres d’heures conserves au Québec, Québec, 2018, pp. 84-93, no 13, cited p. 92, n. 16.

Further literature:

E. Adam, Un livre d’heures en grisaille de l’atelier du Maître de Guillaume Lambert de Lyon. Le manuscrit Latin 18015 de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, unpublished Master’s thesis, Paris, 2015, vol. 1, pp. 24-59.

F. Bibolet, “Le mécénat troyen. Les bourgeois de Troyes à la fin du XVe siècle,” in Très Riches Heures de Champagne. L’enluminure en Champagne à la fin du Moyen Âge, ed. F. Avril, M. Hermant, and F. Bibolet, Paris/Châlons-en-Champagne, 2007, pp. 17-33.

C. De Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, Boston, 1986.

M. Hermant, “Production et commande de manuscrits enluminés à Lyon à la fin du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance,” in L. Virassamynaïken (ed.), Lyon Renaissance. Arts et Humanisme, Lyon/Paris, 2015,pp. 274-279.

Online Resources

J.-B. Lebigue, “Un nouveau manuscrit destiné à Guillaume II Molé,” “Ou grant livraire.” Carnet de recherche de la Section Romane de l’Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes, 2013, online edition [https://romane.hypotheses.org/262].

BOH 212

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