State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 77 Autumn 2006


Hilary Maddocks
Art and Text:
A Sixteenth-Century Printed Parisian Book of Hours

The Illustrated Book of Hours or prayerbook (shelf mark 096 R66 HV) in the Rare Books Collection appears to be one of only four extant copies of an edition which, according to the colophon, was printed in Paris in 1508. The edition, one of the many editions of Books of Hours published in the capital around the turn of the century, was printed by Jean Barbier for two publishers or libraries, Guillaume Eustace and Nicolas Vivien, and decorated with painted metalcut illustrations. The Melbourne copy has not previously been identified as belonging to this particular edition, and this article aims to discuss the book in this context. It also seeks to characterise the book more broadly as a typical example of a printed and illustrated Book of Hours produced in the early sixteenth century.
Books of Hours were personal prayerbooks for the laity. They evolved in the thirteenth century from liturgical books and by the late Middle Ages were among the most widely owned books in northern Europe. There are various Latin texts that make up the Book of Hours, and these varied, but the core text was the Hours of the Virgin or the Little Office of Our Lady, a collection of prayers designed to be recited at the eight canonical Hours of the day. Manuscript Books of Hours were frequently illustrated or illuminated, in part as an aid to devotion. Many of these were decorated by the best artists of the day, the most famous example being the Très Riches Heures, which was exquisitely illuminated by the Limbourg brothers for its owner Jean, Duc de Berry, in the early fifteenth century. However, by the mid and late fifteenth century most Books of Hours were embellished with far more pedestrian illustrations, produced routinely according to an established iconography.1
Paris was a major European centre for the production and illumination of manuscripts, including Books of Hours, and this pre-eminence continued after the printing press was introduced into the capital by 1470.2 The first book in France illustrated with woodcuts was a missal, published in Paris in 1481 by Pasquier Bonhomme and Jean Du Prè. This was followed by the first printed Book of Hours, also illustrated, in 1486. Subsequently editions proliferated – it has been estimated that between 1495 and 1497 some 181 editions were produced in Paris by ‘an immense number’ of printers and booksellers.3
At first glance the Hours in the State Library of Victoria4 could be mistaken for an illuminated manuscript, and fidelity to the manuscript tradition is typical of printed Hours of the early sixteenth century. The book is a small octavo, printed in a gothic font on vellum rather than less expensive paper. The text is hand-decorated throughout with coloured initials and line-endings, and major divisions of the text are marked by 15 full-page and 32 small coloured illustrations. These illustrations were printed at the same time as the text in

Fig. 1. Melbourne SLV, Book of Hours (096 R66 HV), fol.a1 Book plate of publisher Guillaume Eustace.

metalcut – relief carving into copper – and subsequently coloured in by hand, without a great deal of care, in thick paint that sometimes obscures much of the fine detail in the cut. The borders of most of the large illustrations, left blank at time of printing, have also been painted with gold architectural frames. The content of the text, which is predominantly in Latin with some French, is consistent with other Books of Hours, and the iconography of the illustrative program follows the tradition established in manuscript and early printed Hours.5
The only unexpected image is that prefacing the Hours of the Conception of the Virgin on fol.d4 [see cover of this issue], showing the subject of Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl. Augustus' vision of a mother and child, prefiguring the coming of the Saviour, was an established subject for Laudes in the Hours of the Virgin, and the same cut appears for this text on fol.c5. The printer may have repeated this cut simply because a more appropriate plate was not available – the texts and illustration for the Hours of the Conception of the Virgin did not always appear in printed Books of Hours.
Apart from the printed text and metalcuts, the book differs from manuscript Hours in several details. The mark of the publisher, Guillaume Eustace, appears on fol.a1 [fig. 1]. An early precursor to the modern title page, the mark operated both as a statement of the book's title and as a form of advertising for the publisher, called the libraire.6 This did not occur in the manuscript tradition, where any production details were generally relegated to a colophon at the back of the book. Our edition follows both practices by also including the details of a printer, Jean Barbier, the date of the edition, 9 March 1508, and address of a second publisher, Nicolas Vivien, in a colophon on fol.o8v [fig. 2]. Unlike manuscript Hours, printed Hours include an almanac used for determining the date of Easter over several specified years – in this case from 1508 to 1520 – on fol.a1v, preceding the calendar [fig. 3].
Another detail introduced into early printed Parisian Hours is the image known as the Zodiacal or Astrological Man on fol.a2, showing a human figure with the four humours (choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic) represented in each corner in relation to the four elements (fire, air, earth and water) [fig. 4]. Inscriptions in French relate parts of the human body to the influence of particular planets.
The State Library book is bound in cream blind-tooled pigskin, and while in good condition is incomplete; three folios (a8, e8 and l1) are missing. To date the book has not been identified in the relevant literature with a particular edition. Pencilled on a preliminary page is reference to the edition listed as entry 773 in Bohatta's 1924 catalogue, but this is incorrect. We can now ascertain that the book belongs to the edition described by Bohatta in entries 852 and 853, which appears to exist in only three other copies: one in the British Library, shelf no. C.29.f.11. and the others in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Paris, shelf nos. 4-T-948 and Res. 8-T-2544 (Th. 2980).7
Like the Melbourne copy, according to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France catalogue, the Paris books have been augmented by hand decoration. The London example

Fig. 2. Melbourne, SLV, Book of Hours (096 R66 HV), fol.a8v colophon.

has not, and its unadorned cuts reveal the detail of the metalcutter's work. The London book is also complete, and this enables a reconstruction of the missing Melbourne folios, including the missing three large and one small illustration. This completes the full illustrative program of 18 large and 33 small images. The large cuts include the martyrdom of St John the Evangelist, which marks the extract from the Gospels on fol. a8[fig. 5]; the Flight into Egypt which introduces vespers in the Hours of the Virgin on fol. e8 [fig. 6]; and the Trinity, illustrating the Seven Requests to our Lord on fol. l1 [fig. 7]. The small illustration, God the Father, appears on fol. ilv. The unpainted images reveal a competent style in the French tradition, with the fine cross-hatching and detail possible using relief cutting on copper rather than wood.
It is sometmes noted that one effect of printing was the standardisation of texts, in the modern sense, where every edition is composed of identical copies. However, mass production was not a concept known to the sixteenth century, and at least in the early

Fig. 3. Melbourne, SLV, Book of Hours (096 R66 HV), fol.alv almanac for 1508–1520.

publishing industry, each printed book, like the manuscript copy, was still likely to be treated as a unique artefact. The four Books of Hours extant from this edition are a case in point.
The London copy, unlike the Melbourne book, has been printed with borders around several of the large images. These abstract, decorative borders are relatively simple. (This is compared to the complex border decoration in some other printed Parisian Hours, such as those published by Simon Vostre and the Hardouins which employ a diverse repertoire of scenes often related to the main image.) The reason for the presence of printed borders in this copy is probably that this particular book was never intended for additional hand decoration. The Melbourne book and, probably, the Paris copies were printed especially for augmentation by artists who coloured the images and painted the borders. The individually-painted books would then presumably have sold at a higher price.
The publishing world of sixteenth-century Paris was composed of a few large and many small printers, publishers and booksellers, all of whom had to make a living. For the
most part it was a world unimpeded by the restrictions of copyright law, but subject to the same commercial imperatives as modern-day publishing.8 In order to rationalise costs, publishing professionals frequently collaborated in the production of an edition. They often also shared, borrowed and copied type and illustrations, which can make it near impossible to identify particular type or images with particular printers and publishers.
Guillaume Eustace, whose mark depicting two centaurs is printed at the front of the edition, appears to have been the publisher-in-charge responsible for marketing, selling, and possibly commissioning the edition. The text accompanying his mark gives two addresses, stating that the book was made ‘for Guillaume Eustace who has his shop in the great hall of the Palais at the third pillar, or in the rue de la Juiverie at the sign of sagittarius’. The rue de la Juiverie, located on the Ile de la Cité, was in the precinct favoured by practitioners of the book industry. Eustace's other premises in the royal Palais nearby reflect his special status, enjoyed since 1497, as bookseller to the King.9
Eustace's name is recorded from 1497 to 1535 and he died sometime before October 1538. As both a relieur-juré and a libraire-juré, he was a binder and publisher sworn in by the authority of the University of Paris.10 Eustace published works including Books of Hours, devotional and classical texts, and while he enjoyed special status with the King, he was not among the most prolific of Parisian libraires. His output of Hours was limited – for example, Lacombe lists eight books of hours by Eustace compared to some 50 recorded as being published by Simon Vostre. Books published by Eustace were printed by many of the city's pre-eminent printers, including Gilles Couteau, Thielman Kerver, Nicolas Higman, Jehan de la Roche and Philippe Pigouchet.
While Eustace's mark takes prime position in the book, the printed colophon does not mention him. Rather, it states that the edition was ‘completed on the ninth day of March 1508 by Jean Barbier, printer and libraire of the University of Paris, for Nicolas Vivien libraire who lives in the rue Neuve Notre-Dame at the sign of the wound of our Lord.’
The name of Nicolas Vivien is found only in Books of Hours and he appears to have specialised in publishing this popular genre.11 This is the only edition not issued with his own mark, which represents the Holy Grail. He occupied a shop in the rue Neuve Notre-Dame under the sign of the Crown and then the Holy Grail,12 and was named a libraire juré by the university in 1510.13 He appears to have been a relatively minor publisher. Lacombe lists seven editions of Books of Hours, including this one, which indicate that Vivien worked with printers Maturin Le Mere, Jean de La Roche as well as Jean Barbier.
As the colophon makes no mention of Eustace, it is possible that Vivien was the publisher who employed the printer, then passed on the edition to the higher profile Eustace, who was better able to market and sell it. In order to do so Eustace branded the books with his own mark. Eustace might also have been responsible for commissioning the edition from Vivien for a particular market. Given the cost of printing it is unlikely that a small libraire such as Vivien would have taken the financial risk of having an edition, no

Fig. 4. Melbourne, SLV, Book of Hours (096 R66 HV). fol.a2 Astrological Man.


Fig. 5. London, British Library, Book of Hours (C.29.f.11), fol.a8 Martyrdom of St John Evangelist, illustration prefacing Gospels extract.

matter how small, printed on a speculative basis, and he would have readily taken advantage of a guaranteed commission.
The printer, Jean Barbier, was both a printer and libraire sworn in by the University, although he rarely operated as a libraire.14 His work as a printer includes some 200 editions (including some seven editions of Books of Hours) for 33 libraires, the most being 87 editions for Jean Petit between 1507 and 1516. While setting up a printing shop with a press was not in itself prohibitively expensive, the exorbitant cost of actually printing an edition forced printers to depend financially on the patronage of a libraire. For this reason the majority of printers appear to be in the employ of, and sometimes resident with, wealthy publisher-booksellers (like Eustace) who also owned alphabets of ornamental letters, plates and sometimes fonts which they loaned or hired out to printers employed by them.15

Fig. 6. London, British Library, Book of Hours (C.29.f.11), fol.e8 Flight into Egypt, illustration prefacing vespers in the Hours of the Virgin.

It may never be known who owned the type and metalcut illustration plates used in our edition. Renouard recounts that in his career the printer Barbier used other printer's type, then acquired his own, but along with other printers also used type procured from his employer, the libraire Denis Roce, for whom he printed 32 editions.16 Type font was not protected under a specific privilege in France until 155717 and Barbier seems to have used whatever type was available and suitable at the time.
The majority of artists who contributed to the design of woodcuts, metalcuts and painted decoration in early printed Parisian books have not been identified, although certainly many would also have been manuscript illuminators. Manuscript illuminators would also have been responsible for the task of painting over the cuts when required.18 By the early sixteenth century many printers and publishers participated in the production of illustrated printed Hours: Simon Vostre with the printer Philippe Pigouchet; and libraires

Fig. 7. London, British Library, Book of Hours (C.29.f.11), fol.l1 Trinity, illustration prefacing prayer Seven Requests to our Lord.

Jean Poitevin, Theilman Kerver, Gilletand Germain Hardouin, Antoine Vérard and Geofroy Tory all produced editions of Hours with recognisable sets of illustrations.19 Like type, illustrations were generally not legally protected – this would not emerge until the 1520s20 – and while certain sets can be identified, cuts were also on occasion copied or shared among publishers.
This appears to have been the case with our edition, and while no conclusions can be drawn at this stage, several observations can be made about the set of cuts. Of the seven editions of Hours printed by Barbier listed by Renouard, only this edition appears to have this particular set of illustrations. As a printer would be very unlikely to invest in a set of plates for one small edition, this may suggest that the plates did not belong to the printer, but rather to the publisher: Vivien or perhaps Eustace. This is supported by the presence of several of these cuts (but not the whole set) in other Books of Hours printed for Guillaume Eustace or Nicolas Vivien by different printers between around 1510 and 1514.21 This
indicates that the plates were owned by either Eustace or Vivien, or shared by both, and given out to printers when required.22
In conclusion, the printed Hours in the State Library collection is a very rare and hitherto unidentified copy from an edition published in Paris in 1508. In both text and illustrative program it is also a characteristic example of a major genre of early printing in Paris – the Book of Hours. The book is of interest also because it was published during the period of transition when the conventions of manuscript production and illumination were slowly giving way to the new technologies of print.


Books of Hours are discussed in detail in: John Harthan, Books of Hours and their Owners, London, Thames & Hudson, 1977; Roger S Wieck, Painted Prayers: the Book of Hours in Medieval and Renaissance Art, New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, 1997.


It has been estimated that 90 per cent of editions of French Books of Hours were from Parisian presses, including more than 500 editions printed in Paris 1501–1520. Henri-Jean Martin and Roger Chartier, eds, Histoire de l'édition Française, volume 1, Paris, Promodis, 1982, pp. 212–215. For a slightly more conservative estimate see Virginia Reinburg. “Books of Hours” in Andrew Pettegree, Paul Nelles and Philip Conner, eds, The Sixteenth-Century Religious Book, Sydney, Ashgate, 2001, pp. 68–82, esp. p.72ff. It should be noted that manuscript Books of Hours also continued to be produced in large numbers, at least during the first two decades of the sixteenth century.


Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin, The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing 1450–1800, London, Verso, 1997, p. 186.


The book is an octavo, bound in cream blind-tooled pigskin, 111× 117 mm (page measurement); 27 lines of text in a gothic font, use of Rome; 109 ff with paper preliminary and end pages: 3 (paper) + a–o8 (vellum) + 3 (paper). Three folios are missing: a8, e8 and l1. Signatures on first four folios of each gathering, misnumbered on n (n3, n2, n2, n4). The contents are: a1: bookplate and address of Guillaume Eustace (pour guillaume eustace tenat sa bouticle en // la grant salle du palais au troisiesme pillier ou // en la rue de la juyrie a lenseigne des sagittaires); alv:Almanac for 1508–1520; a2: Astrological man; a2v–a8: Calendar; a8v–b3: Gospel lessons; b3v–b8: Passion according to St John; b8v–g8: Hours of the Virgin, Hours of the Cross, Hours of the Holy Spirit; g8v–h5v: Penitential Psalms; h5v–i1: Litany; ilv–l1: Vigils of the Dead; l1v–l5v: Seven Requests to Our Lord, Obsecro te, O intemerata, Stabat mater, 15v.–m4: Suffrages of the saints; m4–n5: various prayers; n5–n5v.: Chaplet of Jehan de Fontaines; o1–o8: Examination of conscience by Maitre Jehan Quentin; o8: table of contents; o8v.: colophon (Ces presentes heures a l'usaige de Romme // sont tout au long sans riens requerir et furent // achevees le neufuiesme jour de mars Ian mil // cinq cents et huyt par Jehan Barbier imprimeur // et libraire de luniversite de Paris: pour nico // las Vivien libraire demourat en la rue neuve // nostre dame a lenseigne ou pend la playe de no // stre seigneur).
The book was acquired by the State Library of Victoria from the estate of Adelaide art and book collector J.T. Hackett. It was included in the Sotheby's 1923 sale of Hackett's collection as lot 849. See Sotheby and Co., Catalogue of Valuable Printed Books and a Few Manuscripts, also of Autograph Letters and Historical Documents…Third Day's Sale, Wednesday, August 1st, 1923. The Property of J.T. Hackett Esq., London, Sotheby's 1923.


The illustrative program consists of: a1: mark of Guillaume Eustace; a2: Astrological man; a8: Martyrdom of St John Evangelist (missing); blv: St Luke; b2: St Matthew; b3: St Mark; b3v: Agony in the Garden; b5: Man of Sorrows; b6v: Crucifixion; b8v: Annunciation to the Virgin; c5: Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl; d2: Crucifixion; d3: Pentecost; d4: Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl; d5: Nativity; d8: Annunciation to the Shepherds; e2v: Adoration of the Magi; e5v: Presentation; e8: Flight into Egypt (missing); f5: Coronation of the Virgin; g8v: David and Uriah; ilv : Raising of Lazarus; l1: Trinity (missing); llv: God the Father (missing); l2: Man of Sorrows; Trinity; l2v : Virgin and Child; l5: Crucifixion: l5v: St Michael; l6: St John the Baptist; St John Evangelist; Sts Peter and Paul; l6v: St Jacob; l7: St Stephen; St Lawrence; l7v: St Christopher; l8: St Sebastian; l8v: St Nicholas; m1: St Claudio; mlv: St Anthony; St Francis; m2: St Roch; St Anne; m2v: St Mary Magdalen; St Catherine; m3: St Margaret; St Barbara; m3v: St Apollonia; St Genevieve; m7: God the Father; m7v: Virgin and Child. (Large illustrations in bold)


The role of the libraire in relation to both manuscripts and printed books is discussed by Richard H. Rouse and Mary A. Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers: Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris 1200–1500, vol. 1, Turnhout, Harvey Miller, p.14, pp. 329–332. See also Annie Parent, Les métiers du livre à Paris au XVIe siècle (1535–1560), Geneva, Librairie Droz, 1974.


One Paris copy (now Res. 8-T-2544) is listed by Paul Lacombe, Livres d'heures imprimés au xv et au xvi siècle conservés dans les bibliothèques publiques de Paris, Nieuwkoop, De Graaf, 1963, entry 185, pp. 108–109. This and the British Library copy is listed by Hans Bohatta, Bibliographie der Livres d'Heures des XV. und XVI. Jahrhunderts, Vienna 1924, entries 852 and 853; and Philippe Renouard, Imprimeurs et libraires Parisiens du XVIe siècle, Paris 1979, volume 3, entry 151. See also Brigitte Moreau et al., Inventaire chronologique des editions parisiennes du XVIe siècle, Paris 1972, vol. 1, p. 283. None of these catalogues list the Melbourne copy.


Febvre and Martin, The Coming of the Book, pp. 109 ff.


Elizabeth Armstrong, Before Copyright: the French book-privilege system 1498–1526, Cambridge, New York, Cambridge University Press, pp. 22–23, 129. Eustace was also one of only two publishers to be granted by the king a personal privilege to publish new titles. The 1508 Hours was presumably not considered to be a first publication and Eustace did not invoke his privilege in this edition.


Rouse and Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers, p. 330, argue that these traditional privileges granted by the University to members of the book trade were becoming irrelevant and ineffectual by the early sixteenth century as practitioners increasingly sought the protection of the Crown.


Lacombe, Livres d'Heures, p. 436, records eight editions of Books of Hours by Nicolas Vivien ranging in date from around 1503 to 1517.


This street ran in front of the Cathedral, and its foundations can still be seen today in the archeological excavations in the forecourt of N⊘tre-Dame. For centuries it was occupied by practitioners of the manuscript and later the printed book trade. See Rouse and Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers, map 5.


Philippe Renouard, Répertoire des imprimeurs Parisiens, libraires, fondeurs de caractéres et correcteurs d'imprimerie, Paris, Minard, 1965, pp. 430–431.


Barbier's career is discussed in detail in Philippe Renouard, Imprimeurs et libraires Parisiens du XVIe siècle, vol. 3, Paris 1979, pp. 55 ff. See also Renouard, Répertoire, pp. 19–20.


Febvre and Martin, The Coming of the Book, pp. 120 ff.


Renouard, Imprimeurs, pp. 59–61.


See Armstrong, Before Copyright, pp. 204–205.


This was completed with varying degrees of skill. Sometimes the cuts were merely ‘coloured-in’, and sometimes an entirely different scene was painted over the cut. Blank spaces were also left in some books for illuminators, in the manner of manuscripts. Some publishers, in particular Antoine Vérard, employed highly skilled manuscript artists to paint miniatures over the cuts in printed books printed on vellum for exclusive clients.


Programs of illustrations in French printed Hours are listed in: Harvard College Library, Catalogue of Books and Manuscripts, vol. 1, French Sixteenth Century Books, compiled by Ruth Mortimer, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1964, pp. 370–378; Hugh William Davies, Catalogue of a Collection of Early French Books in the Library of C. Fairfax Murray, London, Holland Press, 1961, pp. 289, 298, 305, 319, 330.


Armstrong, Before Copyright, p.205. Geofroy Tory obtained special privileges in 1524 and 1526 to protect his original designs for illustrations and decorations for a Book of Hours and for the Champ Fleury. The protection was for six and ten years respectively.


These include an edition printed by Jehan le Roche for Guillaume Eustace around 1514 (British Library shelf no. C.29.1.7. and Murray entry 275); an edition printed by Pigouchet for Nicolas Vivien c.1510 (listed in Murray entry 275 but not listed in Bohatta or Lacombe); an edition printed for Vivien in 1511 (British Library shelf no. C.41.b.17.); an edition printed for Gille Couteau for Eustace in 1513 (British Library shelf no. C.29. h.13.)


Davies, Catalogue, p. 322 notes that three cuts from our edition: the Annunciation to the Shepherds, the Flight into Egypt, and the Trinity are ‘very reminiscent’ of set three of those printed by Philippe Pigouchet for Simon Vostre after 1502. This is supported by Renouard, Imprimeurs, p. 112 who, citing Desjardins, suggests that the figures are in the style of the third set of Simon Vostre and Thielman Kerver. Renouard also notes that David and Uriah on f. g8v is a reversed copy of a cut found in Hours by Simon Vostre. I have not been able to confirm these comments.