This extremely refined and sophisticated manuscript was made at the height of the French Renaissance for bishop François de Dinteville, uncle of the ambassador Jean de Dinteville famously depicted in Hans Holbein’s portrait The Ambassadors. Painted by the workshop of Étienne Colaud (documented in Paris, 1512-1541), the Ferial Psalter features a uniquely imaginative sequence of the Seven Days of Creation. It was commissioned as a companion volume for a Book of Hours now in the British Library (Add. MS 18854) and a Missal now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (MS lat. 9446). Having belonged to a succession of the most distinguished bibliophiles, this important manuscript emerges once again into the public from an illustrious private collection and adds another significant work to Colaud’s oeuvre and Dinteville’s patronage.

181 leaves (last blank), plus original flyleaf at beginning, 273 mm × 176mm, lacking 2 leaves after f. 151, else complete, a second blank canceled at end, collation: i–xviii8, xix [of 8, lacking viii}, xx7 [of 8, lacking i}, xxi–xxii8 xxiii7,  24 lines, ruled in pale red ink, justification 193 mm × 105 mm, written in black ink in a very skillful rounded roman hand in imitation of printed type, rubrics, and running titles in red, heading on first page in capitals alternately red and blue, versa/ initials throughout in liquid gold outlined in red on blue grounds with liquid gold with red tracery, line fillers in similar colors on panels or in the form of rustic branches, 2-3-line initials similar but more elaborate and including colored and gold rope-like stems and interlaced designs and some flowers and insects, NINE LARGE MINIATURES, each 13 lines high (about 105 mm × 70 mm) in full colors and liquid gold within frames of gold inscribed with scriptural texts in black capitals, nine achievements of arms at the foot of each page with a miniature showing arms (altered in the sixteenth century, see below) with a crozier and within a wreath entwined with an inscribed banderole and supported by two mermaids, insignificant signs of use, small initials excised and replaced on ff. 172 and 176v, generally in extremely fine, unusually fresh condition. Blind-stamped black Morocco binding of c. 1900, title gilt, vellum end leaves, gilt edges, by Rivière & Son.


1. Written and illuminated for François de Dinteville, Bishop of Auxerre (1513–1530), the manuscript is the companion volume to a Missal in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (MS lat. 9446) and a luxurious Book of Hours in the British Library (Add. MS 18854), which later belonged to William Beckford, written by the same scribe and which contains Dinteville’s name and motto and his arms at the foot of many pages with a crozier and within a wreath entwined with his motto VIRTUTIS FORTUNA COMES. The same surround with crozier and motto appears nine times in the present book. The Dinteville arms here, however, have been neatly overpainted with those of Hector quartering Marle (see below) but the original charge, especially the gold cross between 18 billers in the second and fourth quarterings, is clear from the reverse of the pages. The adapter of the arms has left the motto intact. The same arms and devices also appear in the BnF Missal. The British Library manuscript is dated 1525 (f. 26v) and names the patron as bishop of Auxerre: this is important because it not only provides a date for the manuscripts but also distinguishes the patron from his son François II who succeeded him as bishop of Auxerre 1530–1554.

2. René Hector, abbot of St. Jacques de Provins 1575–1598, with the arms of Hector (azure towers or) quartering Marle (argent on a bend sable 3 mullets of the field) skillfully inserted over the original arms of Dinteville. René’s father, also René Hector, seigneur de Versigny, married Nicole, daughter of Jean de Marle, in 1520. The great Augustinian abbey of St. Jacques de Provins, of which their son became abbot, was founded in 1146. Another manuscript from the same abbey was lot 68 in the Astor sale, Sotheby’s, London, 21 June 1988. The library probably survived until the Revolution. 

3. C.W Dyson Perrins (1864–1958), bought from Robson & Co., 1902; his no. 87 renumbered 47 for the Warner catalog; the pencil notes inside the upper cover are in the hand of Sir Sydney Cockerell. Dyson Perrins sale, Sotheby’s, London, 29 November 1960, lot 145, bought by Major Abbey. 

4. Major J.R. Abbey (1894–1969), JA.7061; his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 19 June 1989, lot 3035, to Tenschert.

5. J.R. Ritman, private collection, bought from Tenschert, Leuchtendes Mittelalter, II, cat. 25 (1990), pp. 688–95, no. 59; Ritman’s sale, A Selection of Illuminated Manuscripts from the 13th to the 16th Centuries, The Property of Mr J. R. Ritman, L00509, Sotheby’s, London, 6 July 2000, lot 56, purchased by the late owner.

6. Private Collection.


A Ferial Psalter, Use of Rome, opening with Matins for Sunday on f. 1 (including the first Psalm on f. 2v), then continuing with the days of the week, with Vespers on f. 128v; this is followed by a Litany (f. 152) and a hymnal (f. 155) for the daily offices and select feasts in the Temporal, Sanctoral, and Common of Saints.

f. 1, In nomine domini nostri ihesus christi, amen. Ordo Psalteri secundum morem et consuetudinem Romanae curiae feliciter incipit. Primo inuitatoria subscripta dicuntur singular singulis diebus dominicis …, incipit, “Venite exultemus domino …”;

f. 2v, Feria i ad matutinas, …, Psalmus, incipit, “Beatus vir …” [Psalm 1];

f. 46v, Feria ii ad matutinas, …, Psalmus, incipit, “Dominus illuminatio mea …” [Psalm 26];

f. 60v, Feria iii ad matutinas, …, Psalmus, incipit, “Dixi custodiam viam …” [Psalm 38];

f. 72, Feria quarta ad matutinas, …, Psalmus, incipit, “Dixit insipiens in corde …” [Psalm 52];

f. 83v, Feria quinta ad matutinas, …, Psalmus, incipit, “Salvum me fac …” [Psalm 68];

f. 99v, Feria sexta ad matutinas, …, Psalmus, incipit, “Exultate deo …” [Psalm 80];

f. 111v, Sabbato ad matutinas, …., Psalmaus, incipit, “Cantate domino canticum …” [Psalm 97];

f. 128v, Dominica die ad vesperas, …, Psalmus, incipit, “Dixit dominus domino meo …” [Psalm 109];

f. 154v [rubric; text and miniature f. 155], Incipit Hymnarius secundum usum Romanae curiae ….


Produced around 1525, this Ferial Psalter was one of three manuscripts commissioned by bishop François de Dinteville of Auxerre from the workshop of Etienne Colaud. The other two are a Missal now in the BNF (MS. lat. 9446) and a Book of Hours in the British Library (Additional MS. 18854). These two companion manuscripts were once associated with the so-called “1520s Hours Workshop” (now generally referred to as the Bellemare Group), by Myra Orth (1988). However, more recent studies by Orth (2015) and Marie-Blanche Cousseau (2010; 2016) have firmly attributed both manuscripts to Colaud. Emerging now from an important private collection, the present Ferial Psalter sheds new light on the expanding oeuvre of Colaud and his workshop.

While Colaud’s signature was first identified in a Book of Hours in the mid-nineteenth century (de Laborde 1850), much of his work has not been identified until recently. Initial studies in 1889 and 1911 by Paul Durrieu attributed to him a group of Statutes for the Order of Saint-Michel (e.g., BnF MS fr. 14361) whose stylistic variety suggested the presence of a workshop. Over the last few decades interest in Colaud has increased. Orth (1997) ascribed to him a new manuscript, the Panégyrique de François I (Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 892) by René Bombelles (since disputed). More recently, works by Orth (2015) and Marie-Blanche Cousseau (2010; 2016) have assembled an expansive oeuvre highlighted by numerous commissions for elite clientele including the aforementioned Statutes and a Gospel Book (Saint Petersburg, National Library of Russia, MS Lat. Q.v.I, 204) made for King François I of France.

Colaud’s style derives influence from both contemporary painters and those of a slightly older generation such as the Parisian illuminator Jean Pichore. Orth (2015, 285–86) suggests that he may have even trained with Pichore, and Cousseau (2016) notes several collaborations between Colaud and Pichore’s workshop. He was also indirectly influenced by the Touraine illuminator Jean Poyer, particularly the miniatures of the Hours of Guillaume Briçonnet (Haarlem, Musée Teyler, MS 78), a copy of which was owned by Pichore’s workshop (Cousseau 2016, 91–94, 197–98). Colaud also collaborated with Noël Bellemare in the Roman de Lérian et Lauréolle (Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS fr. 2150) and on several occasions reused models from Bellemare’s shop (Cousseau 2016, 197–99 and 202). Conversely, Colaud provided several models to the Master of the Parisian Entrances, for example another copy of the Roman de Lérian et Lauréollein (Geneva, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Cologny, Cod. 149), which clearly derive from Colaud’s miniatures in the Roman de Palamon et Arcita (Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, MS 5116; Cousseau 2016, 209). These influences and collaborations reveal Colaud to be a preeminent artist of the early sixteenth century, closely connected to the great names of Parisian illumination.

The Ferial Psalter represents the third of a troika of manuscripts painted by Colaud’s workshop for Francois de Dinteville, Bishop of Auxerre (1513–1530) and member of the distinguished Dinteville family who were closely tied to the King and his court and endowed with handsome estates in Burgundy and Champagne (Brown 1999, 79). All three manuscripts bear Dinteville’s name, motto, and arms suggesting they may have been executed as a group. The Psalter compositions are clearly based on models designed and utilized by Colaud and his associates as seen for instance in the Psalter Annunciation (fig. 1) and the Annunciation in the Dinteville Missal (fig. 2; BnF MS. lat. 9446, f. 107). The same composition is also repurposed in a Book of Hours executed by Colaud and an assistant now in the Bodleian Library (fig. 3; MS Douce 135, f. 18r). Other motifs shared by the Psalter and Book of Hours are the twisting apple tree seen in the Ferial landscapes and in the border miniatures of the Bodleian Hours as well as the shared attitudes of the man in profile in the Bodleian’s scene of Job and the profile of God the Father in the Psalter.   

A close analysis of the Psalter illuminations reveal that they were likely painted by one of Colaud’s closest assistants. In particular, the faces are designed on a square shape rather than on Colaud’s rounded types, the modeling does not display Colaud’s very shaded carnations, and the angular and geometric folding of the draperies is distinct from that found in Colaud’s known works. These differences suggest an artist active in Paris in the 1520–1530s like the Master of the Rouen Puys (fig. 4), with whom the Ferial painter shares much in common stylistically (fig. 5). As Étienne Colaud worked frequently with collaborators, it is difficult, however, to distinguish specific hands within the “Colaud Group,” especially later in the decade when Colaud took on few commissions himself and assigned more work to associates (Cousseau 2016, 209–10).

The miniatures here are:

f. 2v, King David seated in an arbor outside an elaborate renaissance palace with a little dog sleeping at his feet as he plays his harp to the accompaniment of a tinkling fountain, view through an arch of a rugged landscape in the background; biblical inscription Psalm 131:1 and Psalm 77:70.

f. 46v, God, dressed in a papal tiara and a gold cloak lined with blue, dividing light from darkness out of swirling grey clouds in the sky on the first day of the Creation, Monday; biblical inscription Genesis 1:1:  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;

f. 60v, Tuesday, the second day of the Creation: the division of waters and creation of the firmament by God who raises his hand in command as the waters are directed to their places; biblical inscription Genesis 1:6: And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters …;

f. 72, Wednesday, the third day of the Creation: God creating a lush garden full of fresh vegetation and trees bearing orange fruit on the banks of a meandering stream; biblical inscription Genesis 1:11: And, God said Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seen, and the fruit tree yielding fruit;

f. 83v, Thursday, the fourth day: God creating the sun and the moon which appear together in the sky above the newly created dry and fertile land of burgeoning trees; biblical inscription Genesis 1:14: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of theheaven to divide the day from night ….

f. 99v, Friday, the fifth day: God creating animals, including a goat, a porcupine, a stag, a donkey, a bull, a lion, a ram, a cat, a snail, a civet, and a unicorn which dips its horn into a stream full of fish; above, a squirrel runs up a tree full of chaffinches, an owl, and a stork; biblical inscription Genesis 1:20: And, God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly …;

f. 111v, Saturday, the sixth day: the creation of Eve from Adam's rib as he lies sleeping by a golden fountain in an orchard surrounded by a high marble wall with an arched gateway; biblical inscription Genesis 1:26: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …; 

f. 128v, Sunday, the Trinity resting and blessing creation, dressed in a rich red cloak and holding open a book, presented in a mandorla of golden light within serried ranks of cherubim and seraphim; biblical inscription Genesis 2:2:  And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made …;

f. 155, The Annunciation, in a Renaissance interior, the Virgin startled at her prie-dieu under a richly draped canopy and turning suddenly to see Gabriel who has appeared in a flurry of wings with the Holy Dove; biblical inscription Luke 1:28:  And, the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail thou art highly favored …; .

What is extraordinary about this cycle of miniatures, apart from the finesse of the painting, is the subject matter.  The idea of organizing the Psalms around the Seven Days of Creation is so original and captivating that it must have been specially ordered by Dinteville (and prepared for illumination by his advisor).  Not only do the Psalms illustrate each of the Seven Days, but the illuminations include the relevant biblical text in Roman capitals written on the gold frame of the miniatures.  Only in the Douce Hours does something similar occur (fig. 6); God creating the animals in the Ferial Psalter (fig. 7) is probably based on the miniature from the Douce Hours, now attributed by Francois Avril to Colaud himself (in Cousseau, ch. 1, note 41).  The Annunciation is also quite similar to that of the Ferial Psalter; and the Virgin is nearly identical. Another common motif is the twisted apple tree that is found in the Ferial landscapes and in the border miniatures of Douce 135. The comparison of the attitude of the man in profile in the Douce Job on the dungheap scene with the profile God the Father in the Psalter is also interesting in terms of style.

The creativity of this cycle, and its direct relationship to biblical illustration, places this manuscript at the very center of Colaud’s production and underscores the importance of the patronage of François de Dinteville.



Cockerell, S.C. “Exhibition of Illuminated Manuscripts,” Burlington Fine Arts Club (1908), p. 85, no. 170.

Orth, Myra D. “Franösische Kodizes in ‘römischer’ Buchschrift aus der Zeit vor 1530,” Das Stundenbuch der Maria Stuart, ed. Hansmartin Decker-Hauff et al., Darmstadt, 1988, p. 103. 

Warner, George. Descriptive Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts in the Library of C. W Dyson Perrins, D. C.L., F.S.A., Oxford, 1920, pp. 128–9, no.47.

Further reading:

Brown. Elizabeth. “The Dinteville Family and the Allegory of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 34 (1999), pp. 73–79

Cousseau, Marie-Blanche. Étienne Colaud et l’enluminure parisienne sous le règne de François Ier, Rennes; Tours, 2016.

Cousseau, Marie-Blanche. “Étienne Colaud, enlumineur et libraire parisien: à propos d’un livre d’heures portant sa souscription,” Bulletin du bibliophile 1‎ (2010), pp. 11–35.

Cousseau, Marie-Blanche. “Autour d’Étienne Colaud: Recherches sur les enlumineurs à Paris sous le règne de François 1er,” PhD diss., École pratique des hautes études, Paris, 2009.

de Laborde, Léon. La Renaissance des arts à la cour de France, vol. 2, Paris, 1850–1855.

Durrieu, Paul. Les manuscrits des Statuts de l’ordre de Saint-Michel, Paris, 1911.

Durrieu, Paul. “Les manuscrits à peintures de sir Thomas Philipps à Cheltenham,” Bibliothèque de l’école des Chartes 50‎ (1889), pp. 381–432.

Orth, Myra D. “A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France,” in Renaissance Manuscripts: The Sixteenth Century, London, 2015, pp. 285–86.

Orth, Myra D. “The Primacy of the Word in French Renaissance Psalm Manuscripts,” in The Illuminated Psalter: Studies in the Content, Purpose and Placement of its Images, ed. F. O. Büttner, Turnhout, 2004, pp. 397–403. 

Orth, Myra D. “Dedicating Women: Manuscript Culture in the French Renaissance: The Case of Anne de Graville and Catherine d’Amboise,” Journal of the Early Book Society, 1‎ (1997), pp. 17–47. 

Orth, Myra D. “What Goes Around: Borders and Frames in French Manuscripts,” Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 54 (1996), pp. 189–201. 

Orth, Myra D. “French Renaissance Manuscripts: The 1520s Hours Workshop and the Master of the Getty Epistles.” J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 16 (1988), pp. 33–60.

Orth, Myra D., “Book of Hours,” in Renaissance Painting in Manuscripts: Treasures from the British Library, ed. Thomas Kren, New York, 1983, pp. 187–91.

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