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    A Magnificent Book of Hours, Being a Superb Example of the Work of Jean Pichore and Jean Poyet

    [Book of Hours]. [Jean Pichore and Jean Poyet]. The "Astor-Aubéry de Frawenberg" Hours. Use of Toul. [France, probably Paris, ca. 1500-1520].

    Manuscript on parchment in Latin. Octavo (approximately 6.5 x 4.25 inches). 205 leaves, four of which are blank, with two medieval flyleaves and fifty-four later (nineteenth-century) blanks, lacking one leaf after f. 48, otherwise complete. f. 2. Calendar, f. 15 Gospels, f. 18v, Obsecro te, f. 21v, Passion, f. 29, Hours of the Virgin, f. 67, Short Hours of the Cross, f. 69v, Hours of the Holy Spirit, f. 72, Hours of the Holy Sacrament, f. 74, Hours of the Conception of the Virgin, f. 80, Hours of Saint Barbara, f. 83v, Hymn of the Virgin, f. 85v, Hours of the Dead, f. 92, Seven Penitential Psalms and Litanies, f. 104v, Office of the Dead, f. 133v, Memorials to the Saints, f. 160, hymns, f. 161, votive prayers, fr. 176, the Verses of Saint Bernard, f. 178v, Prayers to Saint Brigit, etc.

    Full seventeenth-century red velvet under elaborate northern European silver-gilt pierced covers with highly detailed motifs of birds, vases, and other subjects.

    A superb example, this was crafted for a nobleman from Toul, possibly someone from the Aubéry de Frawenberg family. The beautiful binding was added to the manuscript, which was then called: French Missal - very Perfect & Curious, 1443, Royal Arms. Sometime before 1884, American ambassador to Rome, Viscount William Waldorf Astor (1848-1919, ambassador 1882-1885), bought it for the huge sum of £420. Although this was an enormous price in its day, Astor could afford it, as he was the wealthiest man in America. The huge price indicates the great value of this manuscript.

    Based on its artistic features, the manuscript is connected with Toul, a town in Eastern France. This is reinforced in that The Hours of the Virgin are of the liturgical use of Toul (uncommon), and the calendar names of two Toul feasts are featured in gold: the feast and translation of Saint Goericus (d. 647), an early bishop of Toul, as well as the relatively obscure feast of his devotees, Saints Praecia and Victorina. All three appear together in one of the most beautiful full-page miniatures in the manuscript, with the two female saints demurely seated on the ground with Goericus wearing his magnificent crown and scepter standing in center. The Cathedral of Toul is in the background. Interestingly, the arms of the original owner, who is possibly depicted in the miniatures of Saints Claude and Anne (ff. 150, 154v), and was once depicted as kneeling before the Virgin and Child (f. 197v), have been expertly painted over.

    However, in every other way (lettering, illustration and decoration) this manuscript is Parisian. Its excellent paintings are attributed to the workshops of Jean Poyet and Jean Pichore. Pichore was a famous artist who had important clients in Amiens, Rouen, and, obviously, Toul. Pichore painted the aforementioned miniature of Saint Goericus and Saints Praecia and Victorina, as well as the miniatures of Saint John of Patmos, Saint Barbara, and several others. His style is clearly influenced by the School of Tours as evinced by his use of intense color, large, pale faces, and elaborate drapery. Pichore painted the main figures, who are placed in the foreground of the paintings, and a second artist would do much of the rest. This would seem to indicate that Pichore had a large, successful workshop .Jean Poyet's workshop collaborated on the beautiful miniature of King David and Uriah.

    The script and decoration are reminiscent of the Tilliot Hours (British Library, Y. T. MS 5) which is associated with Jean Poyet and Geofroy Troy, solidifying the link between Pichore and the School of Tours, the latter having enormous influence on French Renaissance Painting.

    Avril/Renaud, pp. 282-285, 306-318, 411-418.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2011
    7th-9th Thursday-Saturday
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