8vo, ff. , gothic letter (lettre bâtarde), initials and rubrics printed in red, title printed in red and black, Tory’s ‘pot cassé’ device on title and on verso of final leaf; with 12 large woodcut illustrations from 13 blocks, the Annunciation consisting of two blocks on facing pages, each page (except for privilege and colophon) within a woodcut border of flowers, insects, animals and other ornaments, using 48 vertical, 25 lower and 17 upper blocks in various combinations; title lightly soiled, but an excellent, fresh copy in mid-nineteenth-century English brown morocco blind-stamped to a gothic design, vellum pastedowns, edges gilt, by Hayday; minor wear, short crack at head of lower joint; from the library of Marcel Jeanson (1884 – 1942), with bookplate.
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Hore in laudem beatissime virginis Marie: secundum consuetudinem ecclesiae parisiensis.
A fine, uncoloured copy of this unusual and beautiful Book of Hours published by the humanist bookseller and designer Geoffroy Tory. The woodcut borders and Italian-influenced illustrations appear here for the first time.
‘Every page is enclosed in a charming border composed, after the manner of illuminated manuscripts, of detached flowers, fruit, foliage, birds, beasts, insects, etc., all in outline, the various portions of the blocks being combined in endless variety throughout. At the foot of each page is seen either a coat-of-arms or a device, personal or otherwise’ (Fairfax Murray).
Among the arms and devices in the lower borders are those of François I; his mother Louise de Savoie; Henri d’Albret, King of Navarre, and his queen Marguérite d’Angoulême (sister of François I); and Tory’s own ‘pot cassé’.
As suggested by A.W. Pollard, both borders and illustrations were probably intended to be filled in by an illuminator. They constitute the first use of the style ‘à la moderne’ mentioned in the privilege in Tory’s 1525 Book of Hours. Mortimer considers the 1525 Hours more successful artistically, but notes the equally experimental nature of the present work: ‘the black king in the Adoration of the Magi and the black horse in the Triumph of Death offer another link with the Italian woodcut, specifically with the Florentine cut of the 1490s, where black ground or the black figure with white detail provides dramatic contrast to the clear line and areas of white. This particular technique represents a departure from the line-for-line transfer of a preliminary drawing into an exploration of the creative possibilities of the woodblock itself’.
Eleven of the illustrations broadly resemble those of the 1525 Hours, but two (the Shepherds and the Tiburtine Sibyl predicting the birth of Christ to the Emperor Augustus) are new subjects.
Bohatta 330; Fairfax Murray 279; Lacombe 364; Mortimer 304 (with notes on the sources for the blocks). Cf. A.W. Pollard, ‘The Books of Hours of Geoffroy Tory’, in Bibliographica I, pp. 114–122.