Charming if modest intimately-scaled Book of Hours with clean margins, a soft palette, and a lovely armorial binding

A hitherto unknown manuscript by one of the leading Renaissance artists in Lyons in the first third of the sixteenth century. Named for an illuminated entry of King Francis I in Lyons in 1515 (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. 86.4 Extravagantes), our artist is a successor of the Master of Guillaume Lambert. With the Master of the Alarmes de Mars and Guillaume II Leroy, his workshop helps define the manuscript production of Lyons during this important juncture in the city's history, when Lyons became not only the second center of the royal court but a thriving commercial and artistic hub in its own right. In fresh, clean condition, with attractive miniatures painted in a soft palette under Renaissance architectural frames, and housed in a lovely armorial binding, the manuscript is also notable for its eminent provenance, for it belonged to the great southern French bibliophile, Charles de Baschi, Marquis d’Aubaïs.

ii (modern paper) + 214 + ii (modern paper), folios on parchment, lacking 2 leaves, modern foliation in pencil, 1-214 (collation i12 ii8 [first leaf removed, with loss of text] iii- xxiii8 xxiv8 [last leaf removed, with loss of text] xxv-xxvi8 xxvii4), vertical catchwords (some omitted), written in brown ink in cursive bookhand (“lettre bâtarde”) on 18 lines (justification 82 x 46 mm), ruled in red ink, thirteen 3-6-line blue initials with white highlights, in-filled with daisies, roses, thistles and pimpernels, eight outer margins decorated with flowers, fruit and acanthus leaves, FIVE SMALL MINIATURES, FIVE FULL-PAGE MINIATURES in architectural frames; small smudges in a few margins, otherwise in excellent condition. Bound in the eighteenth century for Charles de Baschi, marquis d'Aubaïs, in red morocco, the spine with five raised bands gold-tooled with filets, fleurons and crowns; the gold-tooled covers with double-fillets and corner fleurons are stamped with the arms of de Baschi; binding restored in the nineteenth or early twentieth century, with a box covered with marbled paper. Dimensions 143 x 84 mm.


1. Illuminated in Lyons by an artist in the workshop of the Master of Francis I. The Book of Hours includes a composite calendar with a feast inscribed on each day. No distinctive French saints are found among the numerous saints (e.g. Ursinus of Bourges, Metrannus of Provence, Amadour of Rocamadour), and there are no local saints in the litanies. The Hours of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead are for the use of Rome. Blue ink is used for rubrics alongside red ink, and the most important feast days in the calendar are transcribed in blue. The use of blue ink in this way, as well as the vertical catchwords, became popular at the end of the fifteenth century across France.

2. The armorial binding (Olivier, Hermal, de Roton, pl. 452,2) and armorial bookplate (after 1724) inside the front cover are those of the great Languedoc bibliophile Charles de Baschi, Marquis d’Aubaïs (1686-1777). Charles de Baschi was an author of notable works on history and geography and was a member of the Academies of Nîmes and Marseille. His celebrated library comprised over 20 000 volumes by the time he reached the ages of 57. Most of it is housed today in the public libraries of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

In the seventeenth or eighteenth century, eight lines of text were written in large italic script on the blank leaf f. 211: “Diva Joanna regina Sicilia” referring to Jeanne de Laval (1433-1498), queen consort of Sicily. Below it reads: “Divi heroes francis liliis cruceque Illustris icedunt ingiter parantes ad superos Iter,” which is a transcription, with errors, of the inscription below the busts of René of Anjou and of Sicily, and his wife, Jeanne de Laval, on the edifice of the castle of Tarascon: “Divi heroes francis liliis cruce que illustres incedunt jugiter parentes ad superos iter.”


ff. 1-12v, Calendar.

ff. 13-17v, Gospel lessons; the first leaf is missing containing the beginning of the text and undoubtedly a 8-line miniature of St John; incipit, “venit et sui eum non receperunt.“

ff. 18-21v, Obsecro te, masculine forms.

ff. 21v-25v, O intemerata.

ff. 25v-27, the prayer “Saluto te beatissima virgo maria…”.

ff. 27-37v, Passion according to St John, followed by prayer “Deus qui manus tuas et pedes tuos...”.

ff. 37v-41, prayer to Christ, “Conditor celi et terre…”.

ff. 41-43, the Marian prayer, Stabat mater, followed by the prayer “Interveniat pro nobis…”. 

f. 43v blank.

ff. 44-99v, the Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome, followed by Marian prayers.

ff. 100-107, the Marian hymn “Salve sancta parens…”, followed by the prayer “Concede nos famulos tuos…”, a reading from the Book of Wisdom, Lectio libri sapientiae, “Ab initio et ante secula…”, a reading from the Gospel of Luke, “In illo tempore…”, and Marian prayers.

f. 107v blank.

ff. 108-111, the short Hours of the Cross.

f. 111v blank.

ff. 112-115, the short Hours of the Holy Spirit.

f. 115v blank.

ff. 116-136, Penitential psalms and litanies.

f. 136v blank.

ff. 137-179v, the Office of the Dead, use of Rome; this variant has only eight instead of nine lessons (“Pelli mee consumptis carnibus…” is omitted and “Quare de vulva eduxisti me…” is the last one), and the rubrics for versicles are interchanged with those for responses throughout.

ff. 180-181v, the prayer “O bone ihesu, o dulcissime ihesu…”.

ff. 181v-184, the seven verses of St Bernard, rubric in French.

ff. 184-186v, the seven prayers of St Gregory, preceded by a long rubric in French explaining the indulgence attached to the image.

ff. 186v-202v, Suffrages to the Trinity, the Holy Sacrament, the Holy Face, Michael, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Peter and Paul, James, All Apostles, Laurent, Christopher, Sebastian, Denis, Several Martyrs, Nicholas, Claude, Antoine, Anne, Magdalene, Katherine, Margaret, Barbara, and Apollonia, followed by the prayer “Omnipotens sempiterne deus….”

Curiously, on f. 187v the catchword “Salve” was inscribed by error, although the following quire begins with the prayer to the Holy Face (“Deus qui nobis…”). On f. 99v, at the end of quire xii, the catchword preceding the hymn “Salve sancta parens…” was omitted. Nevertheless, the leaves were bound in correct order.

ff. 202v-209, Marian prayer Missus est, preceded by the rubric in French instructing to say this prayer on Saturdays, Ceste oraison se doit dire tous les samedis en honneur de la benoite vierge marie, incipit, “Missus Gabriel angelus…(sic)”. 

f. 209rv, the prayer “De deprecor ergo”.

ff. 209v-210v, the Seven Joys of the Virgin.

ff. 211-214v, ruled but blank (quire xxvii).


Five full-page miniatures within Renaissance architectural borders; the opening words of the text are inscribed on a scroll placed between the scene and the frame:

f. 44, Annunciation to the Virgin. In each corner of the architectural border there is a charming putto playing with a vine drawn in red penwork. The conservative motif of the central column separating the protagonists in the miniature goes back to the Belles Heures du duc de Berry painted at the beginning of the fifteenth century by the Limbourg brothers.

f. 108, Crucifixion, with Mary and John. John is clad in red, green and grey violet, sharing the palette used for Gabriel in the Annunciation.

f. 112, Pentecost. The scene takes place in a church. The Virgin is placed centrally behind a small table and an open book, surrounded by the apostles, all facing the spectator, close to the picture plane. The apostles fix their eyes on the dove of the Holy Spirit, while Mary gazes pensively. The artist has individualized the faces of the youthful John at her left and Peter and Paul at her right.

f. 116, David and Bathsheba. David, leaning from a window in his castle in the foreground, points at Bathsheba seated in the distance next to a fountain under a cherry tree in the garden. She raises her dress and dips her leg in the water. The outline of a few noble houses and mountains peaks rise in the misty background.

f. 137, Job on the dunghill. A charming group of houses enlivens the landscape in the background and contrasts with the large cracks on the wall of Job’s house.

Five smaller miniatures:

f. 18, Virgin and Child (8 lines). The Virgin standing in a landscape and holding the Christ Child in her arms.

f. 21v, Pieta (8 lines). The Virgin supporting Christ’s body, depicted against blue and green hues of a suggested landscape.

f. 27, Betrayal of Christ (8 lines). This small miniature is coloristically centered Judas who is depicted in the foreground in the vibrant colors of a traitor: green robe and iridescent yellow cape. The image captures in one frozen moment the sequence of events: the kiss of Judas, the arrest of Christ by the soldiers who form a crowd of heads behind the protagonists, Peter cutting the ear of the soldier, his saber still in the air, the injured soldier slumped over a lantern, and the ear of the soldier in Christ’s outreached hand as he is about to heal him.

f. 100, Virgin and Child (8 lines). The Virgin sits with the Child on a rose-colored bench under a green canopy, against a black background, which is quite unusual. The composition with the Virgin facing forward and presenting the Christ Child sideways on her lap recalls the enthroned Virgin and Child painted by Jean Poyer of Tours in the so-called Hours of Henry VIII (the miniature now in the Louvre, Département des arts graphiques, R. F. 3890).

f. 185, the Mass of St Gregory (11 lines). The scene is depicted within a small, carefully composed architectural border.

The miniatures and decoration in this Book of Hours are by the workshop of the Master of the Entry of Francis I, named for an illuminated manuscript celebrating the entry of King Francis I in Lyons in 1515 (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. 86.4 Extravagantes). The artist is a successor of the Master of Guillaume Lambert and, along with the Master of the Alarmes de Mars and Guillaume II Leroy, his workshop helps define the manuscript production of Lyons at a time when the city became not only the second center of the royal court but a thriving commercial and artistic hub in its own right. The work of the Master of the Entry of Francis I can be distinguished in the simplified compositions painted in a cold palette with stocky, barrel-like figures with expressive faces. The artist in this case is set apart from others in the slightly less severe and rounded faces, executed in a rapid manner and with abundant gold highlights. The frames around the large and small miniatures are entirely characteristic of the production of the Master of the Entry of Francis I. A common model for the five full-page miniatures can be found in other Books of Hours (Paris, BnF, MS Lat. 1404, and San Marino, Huntington Library, MS 1181). The illuminator probably collaborated in the decoration of a Trésor de sapience manuscript (Paris, BnF, MS Fr. 1795) and a Missal for the use of Lyons made for Guichard de Rovédis, prior of Montrotier (Lyon, BM, MS Coste 100).

Between 1500 and 1530 the Master of the Entry of Francis I was rivaled in Lyons by only one other artist, Guillaume II Leroy, a painter, illuminator, and bookseller who collaborated with our artist and was perhaps trained in the same workshop. The rise in the production of manuscripts in Lyons at the beginning of the 16th century is paralleled most notably with the appearance of a printing press there in 1473. Commerce in Lyons also flourished with the arrival of the French court during the Italian Wars in 1494, which made Lyons the second center of the Kingdom of France and a veritable hub for commercial and artistic exchange.

More than thirty illuminated manuscripts are now recognized as the work of the Master of the Entry of Francis I. In addition to fifteen Books of Hours, including a luxurious example for Philibert de Vitry (Geneva, BPU, MS Lat. 367), the artist is credited with ten office books, which include a Missal for the church of the Order of Saint John of Rhodes illuminated for Charles Aleman de la Rochechenard, called the Rhodes Missal (London, Museum of the Order of Saint John); a Missal for the Abbey of Saint-Claude in Jura (Paris, Assemblée national, MS 10); the Pontifical of Bishop Louis Guillard d'Épichelière, almoner to Francis I (Paris, BnF, MS Lat. 955), and a Benedictional-Evangeliary for the use of Saint-Nizier of Lyons (Lyon, BM, MS 5136). The Master of the Entry of Francis I also decorated numerous instructive, literary, and historical works, including a Kalender of Shepherds (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 167), a Trésor de sapience (Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 147), and the Pas d'armes de Sandricourt (Paris, BnF, Arsenal, MS 3958)

The color palette and the execution of the classically-inspired architectural frames that surround the textual incipits and accompany the miniatures reveal the artist's training in the workshop of the Master of Alarmes de Mars, active in Lyons from the 1480s until the early 1510s. The Master of Alarmes de Mars was in turn trained in the workshop of the Master of Guillaume Lambert, active in Lyons from the 1470s to the 1490s. Producing around 150 manuscripts, these three generations of anonymous illuminators can be seen to dominate the production of illuminated manuscripts in Lyons from 1470 to 1530. Their continued activity is confirmed in collaborative works that document the transmission of an aesthetic, a repertoire of models, and several makers marks that were successful in the southwest of France (Adam 2015).

The manuscript in Wolfenbüttel has led Elizabeth Burin and Tania Lévy to make suggestions towards identifying of the Master of the Entry of Francis I based on the number of painters who are documented for their roles in the preparation of the royal entrance book (Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. 86.4 Extravagantes). Elizabeth Burin proposed the name of the scribe and illuminator Antoine Pingaud while Tania Lévy identified the artist as the glass painter Jean Ramel, particularly notable in this instance. For lack of evidence these proposals remain conjectural.


Unpublished; for comparisons see:

Adam, E. “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 Masters thesis, Paris, Sorbonne-Université, 2015, pp. 24-25.

Avril, F. and N. Reynaud. Les manuscrits à peintures en France: 1440-1520, Paris, 1993, pp. 357-362.

Boudon-Machuel, M. and P. Charron. Art et société à Tours: au début de la Renaissance, Turnhout, 2016.

Burin, E. Manuscript illumination in Lyons, 1473-1530, Turnhout, 2001, pp. 31-33, 159-211.

Chancel-Bardelot, B. de, et al. Tours 1500: capitale des arts, Paris, Tours, 2012.

Charron, P., M.-É Gautier, and P.-G. Girault. Trésors enluminés des Musées de France: Pays de la Loire et Centre, Angers, 2013.

Delaunay, I. “Livres d'heures de commande et d’étal: Quelques exemples choisis dans la librairie parisienne 1480–1500,” L'artiste et le commanditaire aux derniers siècles du Moyen Age (XIIIe-XVIe siècle), ed. F. Joubert, Paris, Cultures et civilisations médiévales, 24, 2001, pp. 249-270.

Elsig, F. Painting in France in the 15th century, Milan, 2004.

Elsig, F. Peindre en France à la Renaissance, I: Les courants stylistiques au temps de Louis XII et de François Ier, Milan, 2011.

Maxence, H. “Production et commande de manuscrits enluminés à Lyon à la fin du Moyen Âge et à la Renaissance,” in Arts et humanisme: Lyon Renaissance, dir. Ludmila Virassamynaïken, Paris, 2015, pp. 274-279.

Hindman, S. and A. Bergeron-Foote. France 1500: the Pictorial arts at the Dawn of the Renaissance, Paris, 2010.

Hofmann, M. Jean Poyer: Das Gesamtwerk, Turnhout, 2004.

Lalou, E., C. Rabel, and L. Holz, “Dedens mon livre de pensee:” de Grégoire de Tours à Charles d’Orleans: une histoire de livre médiéval en région Centre , Paris, 1997.

Levy, T. Les peintres de Lyon autour de 1500, Rennes, 2017, pp. 80-82, 196-201.

Olivier, E., Hermal, G., and de Roton, R. Manuel de l'amateur de reliures armoriées françaises, 30 vols, Paris, 1924-1935.

Plummer, J. The Last Flowering: French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530 from American Collections, New York, 1982.

Taburet-Delahaye, E., Bresc-Bautier, G. and Crépin-Leblond, T. France 1500: entre Moyen Age et Renaissance, Paris, 2010.

Wolff, M., ed. Kings, Queens and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France, Chicago, New Haven, and London, 2011.

Online Resources

J.-P. Fontaine, “Le Marquis d’Aubais, un des esprits les plus accomplis du XVIIIe siècle:”


BOH 156

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