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. This exceptionally well-preserved deluxe copy, printed on parchment, was destined for wealthy clientele and is a witness to female readership, signed in multiple places by its owner.  Moreover, it is extremely rare, known in only one other copy.  Left uncolored on creamy parchment, the illustrations emphasize the fine printing of the cuts and their skillful graphic design.

In-8o format, i (paper) + 99 + i (paper) unnumbered parchment leaves, lacking g1 (with a large metalcut), otherwise complete, 13 quires (collation a-f8 g8 (-g1) h-m8 n4), signed in the first half of each quire with a minuscule letter followed by a roman numeral: a.i. a.ij. a.iij. a.iiij. -n.iiij. (mostly cropped) (justification, text and border 188 x 111, text alone 135 x 80 mm.), printed in black ink in a type resembling Gothic bastarda script (type 94 G) on 29 lines, FULL METALCUT BORDERS ON EVERY PAGE, Kerver’s unicorn printer’s device on the first page above the title (Renouard 499), FOURTY-FOUR SMALL METALCUTS (one repeat), ONE WOODCUT, SEVENTEEN FULL-PAGE METALCUTS (lacking one), with decoration supplied by hand, border around the printer’s device outlined in red, ruling in red, 1-line gold initials on alternately blue and dull red grounds, 2 to 4-line gold initials on parted divided grounds of red and blue, matching line-fillers and paragraph marks in gold on red and blue grounds, first leaf, sig. c8v and last five leaves with some small staining, margins heavily cropped, overall in very good condition.  Bound in the eighteenth century in mottled calf over pasteboards, covers blind-tooled with single fillets, spine with five raised bands tooled in gold with small flowers, marbled endpapers, edges red, leather broken at the head and tail of the spine, otherwise in very good condition.  Dimensions 190 x 124 mm.


1. Printed in Paris by Thielman Kerver and firmly dated June 20, 1507 in the colophon (sig. n4v); Bohatta no. 830. Although it bears the same date as the copy described in Tenschert and Nettekoven, 2003, vol. 2, pp. 485-491, no. 58, our book is from a different edition, known in only one other copy, sold by Aguttes on 22 February 2019, lot 57 (see below). 

2. The book belonged in the sixteenth century to a woman Pernaitte (Pernette?) Deloisy: ownership inscriptions in brown ink on sig. c5v (notably at the end of Lauds of the Hours of the Virgin), l6v (at the end of the Hours of the Conception of the Virgin) and n4v (the conclusion of the text), “Pernaitte (?) deloisy”. Notably, Loisy is a commune in Burgundy between Chalon-sur-Saône and Mâcon.

3. In the eighteenth century it belonged to the canon D. Sornier; his ownership inscription in brown ink is found on sig. n3v “D. Sornier canonicus ultimus possesor”.

4. In 1858 J. Maur in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château (Loire) gave the book to his friend H[yacinthe] Chevalier: see the inscription recording the donation on the verso of the front flyleaf. The sculptor Jacques Marie Hyacinthe Chevalier (1825-1895) was well known for his funerary monuments (e.g. for Lefébure-Wély and other tombs in the Père-Lachaise in Paris).

5. Private Collection, France.


sig. a1, [Titlepage], “Hore intemerate dei genitricis virginis marie secundum usum Romanum totaliter ad longum quam plurimis sanctorum sanctarumque devotissimis his adiunctis orationibus et suffragiis.”;

sig. a1v, [Zodiac and bloodletting practices], “Quand la lune est en aries leo et sagittarius il fait bon saigner au colerique. Feu. ...”;

sig. a2, [Almanac for 1506-1530, in seven columns], “Almanach pour. xxv. ans.”;

sig. a2v-a8, Calendar in Latin, one page per month, 28 lines, feasts in two columns, below the feasts Cisiojanus verses in Latin in a single column, “In jano claris calidisque cibis potiaris...”, and verses in French on the Six Ages of the World, “Les six premiers ans que vit l’homme au monde...”;

sig. a8v-b2v, Gospel Pericopes: a8v, John; b1v, Luke; b2, Matthew; b2v, Mark;

sig. b3-b7, Passion according to John;

sig. b7v-f1, Hours of the Virgin (use of Rome), b7v, [verses Isaiah 11:1-2], “Egredietur virga de radice Jesse et flos de radice eius ascendet: et requiescet super eum spiritus Domini.”,

b8, Matins; c6, Lauds; d2, Prime; d4, Terce; d5v, Sext; d7, None; d8v, Vespers; e3, Compline; e5v, Advent season;

sig. f1v-f8v, Penitential Psalms and Litany (beginning on f5);

sig. g2-h6, Office of the Dead (use of Rome), beginning imperfectly (lacking sig. g1);

sig. h6v-h8, Hours of the Holy Cross;

sig. h8v-h2, Hours of the Holy Spirit;

sig. h2v-k4v, Suffrages: Holy Trinity, Holy Father, Christ, Holy Spirit, Salve sancta facies, Obsecro te, O intemerata, Stabat mater, St. Michael, St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, Sts. Peter and Paul, St. James, all apostles, St. Stephen, St. Lawrence, St. Christopher, St. Sebastian, all martyrs, St. Nicholas, St. Claude, St. Anthony, St. Anne, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Catherine, St. Margaret, St. Barbara, and St. Apollonia; 

sig. k4v-k7v, [Short petitions in Latin for different situations and for the entourage with rubrics in French], “Premierement tu diras au matin quand tu te lieveras de ton lict”, “Quand tu ystras hors de ta maison d’y”, “Quand tu prendras de l’eaue benoiste d’y”, “Quand tu seras devant le crucifix d’y”, “Quand le prestre se retourne d’y”, “A l’elevacion du corps nostre seigneur”, “Quand on lieve le calice” (followed by three prayers, including on sig. k6, the prayer of St. Boniface, “Domine Jesu Christe”), “Quand on prent la paix”, “Quand on la receu”, “Contre la tempeste”, “Pour le roy”, “Pour impetrer grace des pechez”, “Contre la tentacion de la chair”, “Contre les mauvaises pensees”, “Pour quelque tribulation”, “Pour l’amy vivant en tribulation”, “Pour ceulx qui vont en voyage”, “Pour nos biensfaicteurs”, “Pour les amys qui sont en necessite”, “Pour le tien amy qui est mort”, and “Pour le pere et la mere”;

sig. k7v-l2v, [Prayer in French], “Mon benoist dieu, je crois de cueur et confesse de bouche...”, [Marian prayer], “Missus est gabriel angelus ad mariam virginem desponsatam joseph...”, [prayer], “Te deprecor”;

sig. l3-l5v, Hours of the Conception of the Virgin;

sig. l5v-l6v, [Marian prayers], “S’ensuivent cinq belles oraisons que monseigneur saint Jehan l’evangeliste fist en l’honneur de la Vierge Marie”;

sig. l7r-v, [Seven prayers of St. Gregory], incipit, “Domine jesu christe adoro te in cruce pendentem…”;

sig. l8-m2v, [Heures de Notre Dame de Pitié (Hours of Our Lady of Pity)], incipit, “Tous vrays catholiques et devots serviteurs de la benoiste vierge marie...”;

sig. m2v, [Antiphon], “Benoiste et tressouveraine trinite pere et fils...”; [prayer], “Sire Dieu et pere tout puissant...”;

sig. m3-m8, Penitential Psalms, each verse is first given in Latin, followed by the same verse translated into French;

sig. m8v-n3, [Prayers to St. Roch, St. Genevieve], [“Prayers to Ten Saints” (a short prayer to five male saints, Denis, George, Christopher, Blaise and Giles, followed by a short prayer to five female saints, Catherine, Margaret, Martha, Christina and Barbara)], [Prayers to the Virgin], including “Ave cuius conceptio” (sig. n1v), [Les douze articles de la foy], incipit, “Je croy en dieu le pere tout puissant createur du ciel et de la terre...”, [Prayer to all saints in French], [Prayer to the Three Kings (in Latin)], [Prayer], “Deus illuminator omnium gentium...”;

sig. n3v-n4 [Table of contents in French], “S’ensuit la table de ces presentes heures. Et premierement. Le kalendrier...”;

sig. n4v, [Rhyming prayer; in this context for the printer], “En la parfin de l’oeuvre louer Dieu, Chascun de nous doit pour avoir sa grace...”;

sig. n4v, [Colophon], Les presentes heures a l’usaige de Romme fu/rent achevees le .xx. jour de Janvier l’an mil cinq/ cens et vii. Par Thielman Kerver imprimeur et/ libraire juré de l’université de Paris, demourant/ en la rue saint Jaques, a l’enseigne du Gril.

Published references: Bohatta no. 830; not in Lacombe; Claerr 132 is a different edition (see below). 

This book was printed by Thielman (or Thielmann) Kerver, and the edition is known in only one other copy (see below). 

Thielman Kerver (active 1497-1522), a printer, bookseller and publisher (libraire juré) associated with the University of Paris, was born in Coblentz in Germany.  He moved to Paris to work as a bookseller, and, with the printer Jean Philippe, became interested in the publication of Books of Hours.  He printed his first independent book, entitled Hore beate Marie Virginis secundum usum Sarum, for the Church of Salisbury in 1497. He went on to become a highly successful publisher and was particularly well known for his Books of Hours. His publishing enterprise was continued by his widow, Yolande Bonhomme, and his son Thielman.  Between November 1503 and 1520 his shop was located on rue Saint-Jacques at the sign of Gril “à l’enseigne du Gril” (cf. colophon on sig. n4v).


Subjects as follows:

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

sig. b1v, Luke;

sig. b2, Matthew;

sig. b2v, Mark;

sig. b4v, Christ before Pilate;

sig. b5, Flagellation; 

sig. b5, Christ crowned with thorns;

sig. b5v, Carrying of the Cross;

sig. b6, Nailing Christ to the Cross;

sig. b6, Crucifixion;

sig. b6v, Lamentation;

sig. i3, Christ blessing, surrounded by angels;

sig. i3, Resurrection;

sig. i3v, Pentecost;

sig. i3v, St. Veronica;

sig. i4, Virgin and Child with angels;

sig. i5v, Pietà; 

sig. i7, Crucifixion (different from sig. b6); 

sig. i7v, St. Michael; 

sig. i8, Beheading of St. John the Baptist; 

sig. i8, Martyrdom of St. John the Evangelist in boiling oil; 

sig. i8, Sts. Peter and Paul; 

sig. i8v, St. James as pilgrim; 

sig. k1, St. Stephen; 

sig. k1, Martyrdom of St. Lawrence on an iron grill;

sig. k1v, St. Christopher carrying Christ Child;

sig. k2, Martyrdom of St. Sebastian;

sig. k2v, St. Nicholas resuscitating three youths; 

sig. k2v, St. Claude;

sig. k3, St. Anthony the Great and the pig;

sig. k3v, St. Anne teaching Mary to read;

sig. k3v, St. Mary Magdalene;

sig. k3v, St. Catherine;

sig. k4, St. Margaret;

sig. k4, St. Barbara;

sig. k4v, St. Apollonia;

sig. k7v, Salvator Mundi in angelic glory;

sig. k8v, Annunciation;

sig. l8, Pietà (repeats sig. i5v);

sig. m3, Bathsheba bathing;

sig. m8v, St. Roch;

sig. m8v, St. Genevieve;

sig. n2, Virgin and Child with angels;

sig. n2v, Pentecost (different from sig. i3);

sig. n3, Adoration of the Magi.

Several extensive marginal narratives, including Creation (sig. b5-b7), Typological Series, beginning sig. b7v (Nettekoven, 2004, abb. 235) and Apocalypse, beginning sig. e7 (Nettekoven, 2004, abb. 28).

1 large woodcut: sig. a1v, Bloodletting (an early woodcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

17 full-page metalcuts (lacking sig. g1, Raising of Lazarus, Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver):

sig. a8v, Martyrdom of John the Evangelist (being boiled in oil) (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. b3, Arrest of Christ (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver)

sig. b7v, Tree of Jesse (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. b8, Annunciation (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. c6, Visitation (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. d2, Nativity (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. d4, Annunciation to the Shepherds (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. d5v, Adoration of the Magi (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. d7, Presentation in the Temple (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. d8v, Flight into Egypt (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. e3, Coronation of the Virgin (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman);

sig. f1v, Bathsheba bathing (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. h6v, Crucifixion (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. h8v, Pentecost (Octave series Pichore workshop for Kerver);

sig. i2v, Trinity with the signs of the four Evangelists (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. l3, Immaculate Mary (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver);

sig. l7, Christ with the cross, tomb and the instruments of the Passion (Metalcut by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne for Thielman Kerver).

Our book is especially interesting, as it demonstrates the extent to which early printed books resemble manuscripts. Copies that initially appear to be of the same edition, with the same printer, date and texts, have in fact different texts, different settings of type and illustrations. Thielman Kerver printed three different editions of the Book of Hours with the date June 20, 1507: two editions for the liturgical use of Rome and one for the use of Rouen (the Rouen Hours is Claerr 2000, no. 132). One of the editions for the use of Rome comprises Tenschert 58 and four other copies (Grenoble, Nantes, Aberystwyth and Granada). Two copies are known of the other edition for the use of Rome, with the same printing date, Aguttes 57 and our copy. These two groups are not variants of the same edition, because not only different cuts were used for the illustrations, but also the type was set differently for the text. This makes them two separate editions.

Some of the differences between the editions are outlined here. Tenschert 58 has a calendar illustrated with the monthly labors and zodiac signs, whereas in our book the calendar is illustrated with hunting scenes, grotesques and Sibyls in the margins. The metalcuts used for the full-page illustrations also differ. For instance, the Nativity and the Flight into Egypt in our copy are printed from metalcuts by the Master of the Très Petites Heures of Anne de Bretagne, whereas in Tenschert 58 they are from the octave series by Jean Pichore (Tenschert and Nettekoven 2003, p. 487). Pichore’s cuts are larger and less type could be set below these illustrations. For example, both copies have Nativity on sig. d2, but in our copy there are four lines of text below it, and in Tenschert 58 there are only two lines. Interestingly, when Kerver used the same metalcut in both editions, as with the Presentation from Jean Pichore (sig. d7), he chose different border cuts for the editions and he set 3 lines of type below the image in our copy, and 2 in Tenschert 58. Moreover, although the contents of the texts are basically the same, there are differences. The short petitions with French rubrics in our book (sig. k4v-k7v) appear not to have been included in the edition including Tenschert 58, and consequently, the prayer of St. Boniface, Domine Jesu Christe, is found on sig. k6 in our book and on sig. k5 in Tenschert 58 (Tenschert and Nettekoven 2003, p. 486). Aguttes 57, which includes the Raising of Lazarus, an image that is lacking from our book, was believed to be a unicum when it was sold in 2019 (Online resources). The discovery of our copy enables a fuller study of this little-known edition, undoubtedly made to order.

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

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

The remaining metalcuts in this book were designed by the workshop of Jean Pichore. Although Pichore was mainly an illuminator, and the head of a large and productive workshop in Paris, he also designed metalcuts.  Pichore was active in Paris, although Cardinal Georges d’Amboise, archbishop of Rouen was one of his major clients. He is documented as working on two manuscripts, the first volume of Augustine’s De civitate Dei of c. 1501/03 and the Chants royaux for Louise of Savoy of 1517 (both in the BnF).  Pichore managed a large family enterprise responsible for the illumination of a great number of classical, secular, and religious works and he played an important role in supplying “Renaissance” designs for printed Books of Hours. The new style of Pichore was adopted by Kerver (and also other printers such as Simon Vostre and the Hardouin brothers) (see Tenschert and Nettekoven 2003 and Zöhl 2004).

Printed Books of Hours were one of the mainstays of Parisian publishers and printers in the Renaissance; countless editions were produced between 1488 and 1568. The new technology of printing introduced Books of Hours, a prayer book for the laity, to a broader audience. Members of the growing urban middle class were eager clients for these books. 


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

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

Claerr, T. “Imprimerie et réussite sociale à Paris à la fin du Moyen Âge: Thielman Kerver, imprimeur-libraire de 1497 à 1522,” Diplôme de conservateur de bibliothèque, Paris IV-Sorbonne, 2000.

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

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

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

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

Renouard, P. Répertoire des imprimeurs parisiens, libraires, fondeurs de caractères et correcteurs d’imprimerie, Paris, 1965, pp. 223-225. Available online (Gallica):


Tenschert, H. and I. Nettekoven. Horae B.M.V.:  158 Sundenbuchdrucke der Sammlung Bibermühle, Rotthalmünster, Antiquariat Heribert Tenschert, 2003, vol. 2, pp. 485-491, no. 58.

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

Online Resources   

Aguttes, Livres anciens et modernes. Manuscrits anciens. Lettres autographes. 22 February 2019, at 14h00 Drouot salle 2, lot 57:


“French Printed Books of Hours 1485-c.1550,” Database, Freie Universitäts Berlin (password required) http://www.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/en/e/digital_horae/index.html

Universal Short Title Catalogue http://ustc.ac.uk/

BOH 216

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