Horae in laudem beatiss. Virginis Mariae. Ad usum Romanum. Geoffroy TORY.
Horae in laudem beatiss. Virginis Mariae. Ad usum Romanum.
Horae in laudem beatiss. Virginis Mariae. Ad usum Romanum.
Horae in laudem beatiss. Virginis Mariae. Ad usum Romanum.
Horae in laudem beatiss. Virginis Mariae. Ad usum Romanum.
Horae in laudem beatiss. Virginis Mariae. Ad usum Romanum.
Horae in laudem beatiss. Virginis Mariae. Ad usum Romanum.

“It is Difficult to Exaggerate the Importance of French Horae in the
Study of the Early French Illustrated Book”–Mortimer

Horae in laudem beatiss. Virginis Mariae. Ad usum Romanum.

Woodcut illus., borders, & printer’s mark from designs by Geoffroy Tory. One large oblong woodcut inserted plate (142 x 375 mm.), printed on a double-page & folding sheet (known as “Triomphe de la Vierge” representing her on a chariot pulled by unicorns), & 17 wood engravings by Tory. Pages with woodcuts have woodcut architectural borders. Borders of text pages composed of four different pieces by Tory, those on bottom oftentimes signed with Tory’s Lorraine cross, and among the designs are the crowned “F” of François I, the crowned “C” of queen Claude, & a blank shield and plaque to be filled in with the arms or monogram of the owner of the book. Tory’s “pot cassé” device (Renouard 1071) on title & on verso of final leaf, with his motto “Non plus.” Title printed in red & black and much red printing in the text. Yellow wash on capitals. Large initials (several printed in red). Type 80R. Borders & each line of text ruled in red. 160 unnumbered leaves (collation: A-V8). 4to (189 x 125 mm.), French brown morocco executed between 1590 & 1610, large gilt fanfare decor on the sides with patterns arranged in lozenges & spandrels, “AM” (“Ave Maria”) in the center of the covers, ornate gilt spine, gilt edges. [Paris: Geoffroy Tory, 20 October 1531].

First edition and an important re-discovery: a remarkable copy of Tory’s fifth “Hours,” heightened under the direction of Tory himself in his famous “Italian Lavis” with its brilliant coloring, primarily in gold, red, blue, green, black, and violet of different shadings. This is a masterpiece of the French Renaissance, in a fine “fanfare” binding executed between 1590 and 1610. Our copy is one of the very few to contain the large double-page and folding woodcut plate, the “Triomphe de la Vierge,” here also heightened in delicate colors and gold.

Our copy has been sumptuously enriched with extraordinary colors unique to Geoffroy Tory himself: the title-page, the first leaf of text, and the colophon; the large foldout engraving; and sixteen double-page openings (which include the pages of text opposite the wood-engraved illustrations). Altogether they offer a magnificent spectacle. The coloring here is extremely fine, particularly in the use of dominant colors linking the blocks and borders and related to the emotional content of the scene, notably the blue for the Visitation and the black for the Triumph of Death. The system of enhancing double-pages of illustration with colors and gold is characteristic of Tory and found in his other Books of Hours.

This is the fifth “Hours” created by Geoffroy Tory. Upon his return from Italy, he set himself up as a bookseller in Paris in February 1523 with the ambition of transforming the French book, turning to the Italian woodcut, restrained and deceptively simple in outline, but not without sophistication, reminiscent of the 1499 Aldine Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. The large, open areas of white in the backgrounds are the most obvious characteristic of these border woodblocks. His first “Hours” appeared in 1525 in 4to, the second on 21 October 1527 in 8vo, the third 22 October 1527 in 4to, and the fourth on 8 February 1529 in 16mo.

The magnificent wood-engraved architectural frames were newly created for this edition.

“In the first half of the sixteenth century, the roman letter again asserted itself, and gothic characters were no longer the exclusive use of French printing-houses. This was due largely to the influence of that singular genius, Geofroy Tory of Bourges, ‘who was at the forefront of all progress made in books, in the second quarter of the sixteen century’.”–Updike, Printing Types, Vol. I, p. 188.

Tory has always been considered as one of the great innovators of book design. William B. Ivins considered the Hours of 1525 as “the first French book which from beginning to end was a highly conscious and deliberate work of art” (Schäfer catalogue, II, lot 108). Before the Champ Fleury of 1529, Tory had wanted to produce books of hours which would enable him to display his esthetic innovations in a huge European market: “And what genre could be better suited to this revolution than the book of hours, a manual of the laity’s personal devotion, a Parisian specificity of a style almost frozen since the 15th century?”–Catalogue of the Tory exposition at the Chateau d’Ecouen, p. 32 (in trans.). The five books of hours by Tory transformed the genre.

Tory’s books of hours rejected the confused layout of gothic books; the images were now drawn with simple lines, printed in Roman type which made the text much more legible, and the borders were delicate and decorative with large open areas of white in the backgrounds.

This copy contains the extremely rare and truly spectacular large folding plate, the “Triomphe de la Vierge,” here finely colored in gold ink and watercolors. It is known in very few copies: the Tory Hours of 1524-25 at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal and the New York Public Library (Spencer Collection) and in three copies of our 1531 edition: this copy, the Otto Schaefer black & white copy (sold Sotheby’s, London, 27 June 1995, lot 113), and the copy at the Bibliothèque Municipale, Versailles. It is not known for what purpose or attention this woodcut plate was prepared. Bernard speculates that the plate “was included in all copies of the edition of 1531, perhaps also in that of 1524-1525“ (p. 128).

Our 1531 Hours is one of a small group of copies, printed on vellum or on paper, all heightened in this same recognizable style, known as the “lavis à l’italienne.” This method must not be confused with illumination which would conceal the lines of the fine woodcuts. Tory’s method of using gold ink and watercolors enriched the woodcuts, while fully revealing the delicate printed lines.

Today we can identify six other copies accented by the “Italian lavis,” three of which are preserved in French public collections and which were exhibited in Ecouen in 2011:

1. the Hours of 1525 from the BnF in 17th century binding (Rés. RE-28-4).

2. the same Hours from the Musée Condé in Chantilly in a 19th-century binding.

3. the same Hours from the Otto Schäfer collection (contemporary binding, Sotheby’s, London, 27 June 1995, lot 108, which reached £125,000, the third highest price of this sale).

4. the Hours of 1527, on paper, from the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal (22 October 1527, but missing two leaves, Rés 8° T. 2548).

5. the same 21 October Hours of 1527 from the same Schäfer sale, lot 110.

6. the 16mo Hours of 1529 on vellum but in 19th century binding preserved at the BnF (Vélins 2914).

PROVENANCE: President de Joinville, inscription signed in his hand in ink on the front pastedown: “this book was offered and given to the worthy priest Muscrier by President de Joinville on Sunday July 15, 1804 [signed]: L. J” (in trans.). This was probably Louis de Joinville (1773-1849), commissioner of war and assistant to Pierre Daru in 1800. He took part in the campaign of Italy under the orders of Daru and met the young Henri Beyle in Milan in 1800. Stendhal mentions him several times in his correspondence. Joinville was one of the lovers of one of Stendhal’s most beloved mistresses: “la Pietragrua.” Joinville was made Baron and State Councilor in 1813. However, the title of “President” in 1804 and his friendship with the priest remain unexplained, making the attribution of the provenance uncertain.

❧ Bernard, Geofroy Tory, trans. by George B. Ives (1909). Bohatta 1148.

Price: $400,000.00

Item ID: 6158

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