Richly illuminated, this elegant manuscript is adorned with two remarkable donor portraits that witness to the early interest of the elites of Lyons in the genre of portraiture. The patrons, likely named Jean and Catherine, most probably come from the Le Saunier family whose arms are reproduced three times in the manuscript.  Two major painters active in the last quarter of the fifteenth century participated in the illumination of these Horae, now identified as The “Le Saunier” Hours after its patrons.  The resurfacing of this manuscript, published but in a private collection for nearly three decades, prompts a re-examination of the styles of its collaborating artists and their importance for development of Lyonnais painting at the dawn of the Renaissance.

154ff., preceded and followed by 6 paper flyleaves, missing one leaf between ff. 61–62 which contained a miniature for Vespers of the Hours of the Virgin [collation: i6, ii6, iii12, iv8, v8, vi8, vii8, viii7 (of 8, missing viii), ix8, x4, xi4, xii3 (of 4, with iv likely a cancelled blank), xiii8, xiv8, xv8, xvi8, xvii8, xviii8, xix8, xx8, xxi6, xxii6], written in a very regular lettre bâtarde, in brown ink, on up to 21 lines, a few calligraphic flourishing to text extending in the upper margin, parchment ruled in pale red ink (45×85 mm), vertical catchwords, added later inscriptions in ink in a cursive 17th-century script (?) above the miniatures identifying the text or the painted scene, rubrics in dark red, line-fillers in red and blue highlighted in liquid gold, numerous 1- to 3-line initials in red or blue with liquid gold ornamentation, one 5-line high initial in blue introducing the prayer “O intemerata” (f. 141), with 24 calendar miniatures set in illuminated borders placed in the outer margins, borders on reserved grounds with flowers, birds, strawberries and small burnished gold discs, with 15 small miniatures framed with illuminated bracket borders on reserved, dark red or gold grounds with colored acanthus leaves, flowers or birds, a few borders with heraldry (f.15) or scrolls with motto “Et non sans cause” (f.135v), with  16 LARGE FULL-PAGE MINIATURES set in characteristic architectural gold frames, some with Roman display capitals (beginning of text that follows on verso of leaves), some frames with added compartments with painted or camaieu d’or columns, figures, putti, cornucopiae and busts (see for instance lower frame on f. 23 and f. 76 with a sequence of busts treated in grisaille on dark red grounds). A few cases of smudging or thumbing (f.1v, 82, 143v–144) and some loss to paint surface in a few places (e.g. f.1, 6, 7, 22v, 39, 53, 59); some leaves a bit stained or warped (towards the end of the codex); some leaves cropped a bit short in a few cases with slight loss to the architectural borders (f.23, 49, 76, 79, 143v–144); small loss to parchment in upper righthand corner of f.53 and to lower righthand corner of f.157. Bound in modern red velvet over pasteboards, spine sewn on three raised thongs, brass claps, monogram on the clasp still present (one clasp wanting; the clasp present apparently mounted upside down), with cipher letters “M/E/U/S/L”, engraved “fermesses” on the catchplates, gilt edges, paper pastedowns (velvet a bit worn in certain places, lower clasp wanting, else good condition). Paper label with initials (R and P ?) traced in brown ink, pasted on upper pastedown. 


1. This manuscript is made for the universal liturgical use of Rome (Office of the Virgin and Office of the Dead) and its Calendar is for the general “universal” composite use with no specifically local Lyonnais saints. However, one should underscore that in the Litany both Saint John the Baptist and Saint Stephen are present, and both were patron saints of the Cathedral of Lyon. The donors are presented by these same saints, Saint John the Baptist for the male donor and Saint Catherine for the female donor, but the latter is depicted facing a large full-page miniature of Saint Stephen. Stylistically, these Horae are clearly painted in Lyons at the turn of the sixteenth century, and contain miniatures by two important Lyonnais artists, respectively the “Lambert Master” and the “Master of the Alarmes de Mars.”

Manuscript made for the donors depicted in prayer. The male donor is painted on f. 22v: his Christian name might well be Jean or Baptiste as the male donor is presented by Saint John the Baptist. Noteworthy, John the Baptist figures in high position in the Litany (f. 92)). The female donor, likely the male donor’s wife, is represented on f. 143v: her Christian name might have been Catherine as the female donor is presented by Saint Catherine. There are three painted heraldic shields (f.15v [shield in the border of the small miniature depicting Saint Luke]; f.22v [large shield beneath the male donor’s portrait]; f.143v [large shield beneath the female donor’s portrait]). These arms are described as follows : D’azur à la fasce d’or accompagnée en chef de deux étoiles d’or à six raies et un besant d’argent et en pointe d’un besant d’argent. There is a family motto, repeated a number of times, once above the donor’s portrait: “Et non sans cause”; the motto is repeated again on two scrolls in the border of the Suffrage to Saint Anne (f.135v).

In his Armorial général du Lyonnais, Forez et Beaujolais (1860), A. Steyert records the following shield in the alphabetical plates under “Le Saunier” : D’azur à la fasce d’argent à deux besants du même l’un en chef entre deux étoiles d’or l’autre en pointe and lists “Saunier (Le), G [reference to Goussancourt. Armoiries lyonnaises. Manuscrit]. Jourdan S. était conseiller de ville en 1386” (Steyert, 1860, p.83). The heraldry is very close, with perhaps a variant in the color of the “fasce”, described by Steyert as “fasce d’argent” whereas in the present manuscript we have apparently a “fasce d’or”. According to Steyert, one records an earlier “Jourdan Saunier” who was “conseiller de ville” in Lyon in 1386 (see Monfalcon, J.B. Histoire de la ville de Lyon depuis son origine jusqu’en 1846, Lyon, 1847, tome II, p.1396).

2. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792–1872), English antiquary and book-collector, famous “vello-maniac”, owner of the largest collection of manuscript material in the nineteenth century, his shelfmark no.4798, acquired circa 1831. See The Phillipps Manuscripts. Catalogus librorum manuscriptorum in bibliotheca D. Thomae Phillipps, 1837–1871 (with an introduction by A.N.L. Munby) [reprinted London, 1968], p.80. See also, Munby (A.N.L.), The Formation of the Phillipps Library up to the Year 1840, Phillipps Studies, 3, Cambridge, 1954, p.159.

3. Otis T. Bradley (1895–1950), New York, attorney, collector and bibliophile. He was President of the New York State Bar Association. He is known for his interest in William Blake and was an important donor to Yale University as he was a Yale Alumnus. The manuscript was sold in 1959, in the following sale Sotheby’s, Catalogue of Valuable Printed Books, Medieval Manuscripts and Autograph Letters, the Property of Lt-col. C.G. Darley …, of George Brudenell… of the…Lord Kenyon…of the Late Otis T. Bradley, London, 23 February 1959, lot 232, p.50. In this sale, the manuscript fetched 2 900 £.

4. H.P.Kraus (1907–1988), celebrated bookdealer established in New York, described as “without doubt the most successful and dominant rare book dealer in the world in the second half of the 20th century”, his Catalogue 95, no.24. Burin indicates: “Sold by H.P.Kraus in 1968 to Hellmut Schumann, A.G. of Zurich and resold in the same year”. Burin adds: “Present whereabouts unknown” (Burin, 2001, cat.17).

5. European Private Collection.


 ff. 1–12v, Calendar, in French, in red, blue and brown ink, universal Paris composite use, including the following noteworthy saints: Vincent (in blue, 22 Jan.); Estienne (Stephen), twice in August (2 Aug; in blue, 4 Aug.); Lawrence (in blue, 10 Aug.); Baldomer (2 Sept.), honored in Lyons;

ff. 13–13v, ruled blank leaves;

ff. 14–19, Gospel pericopes;

ff. 19–22, Obsecro te, masculine use: “Et michi famulo tuo…” (ff.20v–21)

ff. 22v–66v, Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome, interspersed with Hours for the Days of the Week at Matins; with Matins (ff.23v–38v); Lauds (ff.39–48v); Prime (ff.49–52v), antiphon, “Assumpta es”; capitulum, “Que est ista”; Terce (ff.53–55v); Sext (ff.56–58v); None (ff.59–61v), antiphon, “Pulcra es”; capitulum, “In plateis”; missing the beginning of Vespers, miniature wanting (ff.62–65v); Compline (ff.66–69v); 

ff. 67–75v, Prayers, including “Nunc dimittis…”; “Beate et gloriose…”; “Salve Regina…”; “Omnipotens sempiterne…”; rubric, Ad vesperas primi sabbati de adventu usque ad vigiliam nativitatis domini…[Prayers and Mass for Advent];

ff. 76–78v, Short Hours of the Cross;

ff. 79–81v, Short Hours of the Holy Spirit; 

ff. 82–95, Penitential Psalms, followed by Litany (ff.91v– 93), including saint John the Baptist; Stephen, Lawrence, Vincent, Catherine, Elizabeth; followed by Prayers;

ff. 95v–124, Office of the Dead (use of Rome), with the following readings: (1) Credo quod; (2) Qui Lazarum; (3) Domine quando; (4) Memento mei; (5) Heu michi; (6) Ne recorderis; (7) Peccantem me; (8) Domine secundum; (9) Libera me (See Leroquais, Office des Morts, BnF MS n. a. lat. 3163, f. 97);

ff. 124v–129, Passion according to Saint John; followed by Prayers in Latin;

ff. 129–131v, Prayers in French, incipits, “Ihesucrist filz de la divinité…” ; “Glorieuse Vierge Marie a toy me rens et si te prie…” :

ff. 132–133, Seven Verses of Saint Bernard;

ff. 133v–141, Suffrages to the Saints, with Sebastian; Anthony Abbott; Claude; Anne; Catherine; Barbara; Oratio ante ymaginem corporis Christi (ff.138–141);

ff. 141–143, O intemerata; 

ff. 143v–144v, Suffrage to Saint Stephen [the Cathedral of Lyon (or “Primatiale Saint-Jean-Baptiste-et-Saint-Étienne”) is dedicated to both Saint John the Baptist and Saint Stephen];

ff. 145–150v, Prayers in Latin, including, “Missus est Gabriel…”; “Te deprecor ergo…”; – 

ff. 150v–152v, Prayer to Jesus Christ, in French, rubric, Oratio ad dominum nostrum ihesum christum; incipit, “Mon unicip dieu je croy de cueur…”;

ff. 152v–157, Prayers relative to the Seven Verses of Our Lord, in French, long rubric (f. 152v), Qui ceste oraison dira/Ce jour desconfes ne morra/Ne deable ne luy porra nuyre/Ne nul mal…faire iniure/Et trois jours devant sa mort/Verra la uni de confort ; incipit, “La premiere parolle. Ihesus en qui tout bien habunde/Qui au partir du mortel monde…” ; – ff.157–157v, Added prayer in a different yet near contemporary hand, starting, “Exellentissima domina et glorissima semper virgo maria.. »


There are 24 Calendar miniatures, with Labors of the Months and Signs of the Zodiac, as follows:

f. 1-1v, Calendar, month of January, Feasting; Calendar, month of January, Aquarius;

f. 2-2v, Calendar, month of February, Sitting by the fire; Calendar, month of February, Pisces;

f. 3-3v, Calendar, month of March, Pruning trees; Calendar, month of March, Aries;

f. 4-4v, Calendar, month of April, Man in the garden; Calendar, month of April, Taurus;

f .5-5v, Calendar, month of May, Man with a falcon in the garden; f.5v, Calendar, month of May, Gemini (portrayed as a naked couple);

f. 6-6v, Calendar, month of June, Hay Harvest; Calendar, month of June, Cancer;

f. 7-7v, Calendar, month of July, Wheat Harvest; Calendar, month of July, Leo;

f. 8-8v, Calendar, month of August, Wheat threshing; Calendar, month of August, Virgin;

f. 9-9v, Calendar, month of September, Grape Harvest; Calendar, month of September, Libra;

f. 10-10v, Calendar, month of October, Sowing; Calendar, month of October, Scorpio;

f. 11-11v, Calendar, month of November, Gathering acorns for pigs; Calendar, month of November, Sagittarius;

f. 12-12v, Calendar, month of December, Killing the pig; Calendar, month of December, Capricorn.

There are 16 large miniaturs and 15 small miniatures as follows:

f. 14v, Saint John the Evangelist on the Island of Patmos, with his attribute the eagle [large miniature];

f. 15v, Saint Luke [small miniature];

f. 16v, Saint Matthew [small miniature];

f.18, Saint Mark [small miniature];

f. 19, Virgin and Child [small miniature];

f. 22v, Male donor in Prayer, presented by Saint John the Baptist (the Primatiale de Lyon is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint Stephen); [large miniature, Lambert Master];

f. 23, Annunciation [large miniature];

 f. 39, Visitation (noteworthy, the presence of Saint Joseph) [large miniature];

f. 49, Nativity [large miniature];

f. 53, Annunciation to the Shepherds [large miniature];

f. 55, Adoration of the Magi [large miniature];

f. 59, Circumcision [large miniature]; [missing miniature at Vespers (between ff.60v–61)];

f. 66, Assumption of the Virgin [large miniature];

f. 76, Crucifixion [large miniature];

f. 79, Pentecost [large miniature];

f. 82, David and Bathsheba [large miniature];

f. 95v, Job on his Dungheap mocked by his sons and friends [large miniature];

f. 124v, Arrest of Christ and Kiss of Judas [small miniature];

f. 132, Saint Bernard, holding a book, and the Devil [small miniature];

f. 133v, Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian [small miniature];

f. 134v, Saint Anthony Abbott [small miniature];

f. 135, Saint Claude [small miniature];

f. 135v, Saint Anne teaching Mary to read [small miniature];

f. 136v, Saint Margaret [small miniature];

f. 137, Saint Barbara [small miniature];

f. 138, God in Majesty [small miniature];

f. 143v, Female Donor in prayer, presented by Saint Catherine of Alexandria; the scene is set in a room with a marbled-paneled apse and frieze that reads: “catherinae greciae gemmae” [large miniature; Master of the Alarmes de Mars];

f. 144, Saint Stephen, holding the stones of his martyrdom and an open book; there was also an important Church in Lyon dedicated to Saint Etienne, destroyed at the Revolution); [large miniature; Master of the Alarmes de Mars];

f. 145, Pietà [small miniature];

f. 151, Christ of Sorrows standing by his Cross [small miniature];

f. 153, Ecce Homo, between Mary and John, with arms of the Passion [large miniature]. 

In her important study, E. Burin, Manuscript Illumination in Lyons 1473–1530 (2002) retraces the development of a school of painting in Lyons, parallel to the local flourishing printing press with the first book printed in the city in 1473. The author maps out manuscript production in Lyons according to different workshops, sometimes collaborating in a same manuscript, as is the case here. This manuscript was known to Burin (see her cat. 17) and was referred to as “H.P. Kraus, catalogue no. 24.”  However, at the time of her study Burin did not have access to the codex, which has been inaccessible in a private collection for nearly three decades.  Burin signals the modernity of one of the artists, The Lambert Master (the “new, more modern approach to his compositions”).  F. Avril characterizes his successor, the Master of the Alarmes de Mars, as an “excellent artist” known for his bold coloring and harmonious compositions.  Hence the resurfacing of these Horae, now identified as The “Le Saunier” Hours after its patrons, prompts a re-examination of the styles of its collaborating artists and their importance for development of Lyonnais painting at the dawn of the Renaissance.

This Book of Hours was illuminated in Lyons around 1500 by the Master of Guillaume Lambert and the Master of the Alarmes de Mars (Burin 2002, pp. 84-85, no. 17). The first artist is responsible for most of the lavish decoration of the manuscript that contains sixteen full-page miniatures enshrined within golden architectural frames, fifteen small miniatures, and twenty-four calendar miniatures. Distinguished by François Avril as an “excellent artist” (Avril and Reynaud 1993, pp. 357-362), his heir and successor the Master of the Alarmes de Mars contributed two full-page miniatures representing the female patron before St. Stephen (ff. 143v-144) and three small arch-topped miniatures (ff. 138, 145, 151).

The Master of Guillaume Lambert (fl. 1470-1500) is named after the scribe Guillaume Lambert because he illuminated the latter’s personal Book of Hours, whose ex-libris indicates that it was written in Guillaume Lambert’s house “near the portal” in 1484 (New York, Morgan Library & Museum, MS M. 1162). Lynn F. Jacobs and Elizabeth Burin have assembled a corpus of more than thirty illuminated manuscripts, attributed to four main artists (Jacobs 1993; Burin 2002). These are the Master of Guillaume Lambert (named after the Morgan manuscript), the Getty Master (named after Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 10), the Rosenberg Master (named after Les Enluminures, MS 00), and the Boilly Master, or Master of BnF MS lat. 18015. Since Guillaume Lambert’s writing hand occurs in manuscripts illustrated by each of these artists, Christopher de Hamel has suggested that he acted both as a scribe and a stationer supervising this thriving enterprise (De Hamel 1986, p. 185) that is regarded as the most influential bookshop in late fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Lyons. 

The present manuscript is among the finest examples of the Master of Guillaume Lambert’s late production. The most distinctive feature is the choice of elaborate Renaissance frames that were designed by the Master of the Alarmes de Mars and which differ from the rather simple prismatic piers normally considered to be a hallmark of the Lyons workshop. The Master of Guillaume Lambert nevertheless relies on models that are found in manuscripts dating from the 1490s. For instance, nearly identical compositions of the Nativity occur in two different Books of Hours of this decade (Paris, BNF, MS. Nouv. Acq. Lat. 3117, f. 53v; Rouen, Bibliothèque unicipal, MS 3027, f. 57; Fig. 1, 2). These also demonstrate the Master of Guillaume Lambert’s distinctive interest in the choice of a close-up setting for most of his miniatures, that is exemplified by the comparison of St. John the Evangelist in this manuscript (f. 14) with St. Luke in a Book of Hours in Rouen (Bibliothèque unicipal, MS 3027, f. 17; Fig. 3).

A distinctive feature of the Master of Guillaume Lambert’s contribution to the present manuscript is the diptych of full-page miniatures that introduces the Hours of the Virgin. The male patron appears in prayer, introduced by St. John the Baptist to the Annunciation. Such portraits are exceptional among the manuscripts illuminated by the workshop of the Master of Guillaume Lambert, and their recurrence in the present manuscript indicates the luxurious nature of the commission. The comparison of another portrait, that of the merchant Guillaume II Molé illuminated by the Master of Guillaume Lambert in a Book of Hours mostly illuminated by Jean Colombe (Rodez, Société des Lettres, MS 1, f. 169v; Avril and Reynaud 1993, pp. 335-336; Fig. 4), demonstrates how the choice of a close-up setting by the same artist could increase the intimate relationship of the owner with his Book of Hours.

The most refined miniature of the manuscript is the portrait of the female patron, probably his wife, who is introduced by St. Catherine to St. Stephen at the opening of his suffrage (ff. 143v-144). The Master of the Alarmes de Mars represents the young lady wearing a lace bonnet kneeling in prayer with her patron saint in a refined interior setting, closed by a marble-paneled apse that includes a frieze which an inscription referring to St. Catherine. These present a vigorous and almost sculptural modelling that is emphasized by bold lightning, as well as rounded blue eyes, pursed red lips and a pointed chin. These features are shared by most of the characters of a Book of Hours for the use of Lyons now in Baltimore (Walters Art Museum, MS W.447; Burin 2002, pp. 133-134, no. 46), illuminated in the 1490s by the Master of the Alarmes de Mars and his associate the Master of the Chappes Hours, among which the best comparisons are gabriel, Bathsheba, and the Apostles and virgin of the Pentecost (ff. 23, 71, 74; Fig. 5, 6). Further comparisons are to be found in other Books of Hours painted by the Master of the Alarmes de Mars and his workshop, especially one for the use of Lyons (Lyons, Bibliothèque unicipal, MS 583) and another for the use of Rome (New Haven, Beinecke Library, MS 435).

The Master of the Alarmes de Mars takes his name from Jean d’Auton’s presentation copy of the Alarmes de Mars sur le voyage de Milan, avecques la conquest et entrée d’icelle which he offered to Louis XII in 1499 (Paris, BNF, MS fr. 5049; see Avril and Reynaud 1993, p. 361; Hermant 2015; Fig. 7). The artist benefited from the presence of the French court in Lyons, who settled in the city from 1494 onwards as an outpost during the Italian Wars. He was commissioned with the frontispieces of the presentation copies of Robert Gaguin’s La Perle Poétique and André de la Vigne’s Ressource de Chrestienté that were offered to Charles VIII in 1494 and 1495 (Christie’s, 5 december 1973, lot 76; Paris, BNF, MS fr. 1687; see Lévy 2017). He was also familiar with the royal painter and poet Jean Perréal, who contributed a few miniatures to several of his manuscripts (Paris, BnF, MS fr. 5447; MS lat. 1190). One of them is the portrait of the female patron of the Baltimore Hours, who is introduced by St. John the Evangelist to the Virgin and Child (Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, W. 447, f. 128; Fig. 8). The elaborate Renaissance decorum of this image may well have inspired the setting of the present manuscript’s female patron’s miniature. Adorned with these two remarkable portraits, this Book of Hours thus offers a brilliant witness to the early interest of the courtly and merchant elites of Lyons for the genre of portraiture.                         


Published in

Jezler (ed.), Himmel, Hölle, Fegefeuer… (1994), no. 30 [exhibited in Cologne at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museums];

F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les Manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, Paris, 1993, p. 361, in the entry dedicated to Paris, BnF, MS fr. 5089, Les Alarmes de Mars sur le voyage de Milan… (circa 1500): “L’auteur de cette belle composition est un nouveau venu dans le monde de l’enluminure lyonnaise, où il apparaît dans les dernières années du siècle. Son beau coloris franc, ses compositions harmonieuses, et équilibrées et ses personnages aux traits sculpturaux se retrouvent dans plusieurs livres d’heures lyonnais de l’époque (New Haven, Yale University, Beinecke Library, MS 435; New York, H. P. Kraus, cat. 95, no. 24; cat. Tenschert, XXX, 1993, no. 29 […]”. Noteworthy that the present codex is none other than the former H.P.Kraus reference.

E. Burin, Manuscript Illumination in Lyons (1473-1530), Turnhout, 2002, no.17, pp. 84–85. 

Further reading:

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

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.

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.

T. Lévy, Les Peintres de Lyon autour de 1500, Rennes, 2017.

We are grateful to Elliot Adam for his assistance with this description.

BOH 219

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