Lot 15
  • 15

Six initials from the Gradual of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany, on vellum [northern France (Paris), c.1500-10]

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Vellum
6 cuttings, each approximately 90mm. by 100mm., 5 with initials in blue with white penwork heightened with light blue panels, enclosing ivy leaves in red, blue and vivid green, and terminating in red swirls at the corners, all on brightly burnished gold grounds, the last initial in brown wash enclosing a b√Ęton noueux, surrounded by a penwork banderole, flowers and pearls, all on red, blue and soft green grounds, each with remains of one or two lines of text in black ink in a large and fine late gothic bookhand, with music on 4-line red staves, rastrum 42mm., one initial trimmed to edges, another water-damaged with stains, losses to gold and colours, and lines of pinholes (perhaps from drying process), some glue stains and paper on backs of all cuttings from earlier mountings, else good condition

Catalogue Note

These are hitherto unrecorded cuttings from the celebrated Gradual of King Louis XII of France (reigned 1498-1515) and his second wife, Anne of Brittany (twice queen of France through her marriage to Charles VIII in 1491, and after his death in 1498 to his successor Louis; she died in 1514). Other surviving parts of the manuscript include the royal arms of France, royal heraldic devices and the initials ‘A’ and ‘L’. The artist has been identified as the Master of Phillippe de Gueldres (fl.1500-10) from a cutting with a miniature of Louis XII and Anne of Brittany adoring the Crown of Thorns (Nantes, Musée Dobrée, see Paris, Les Enluminures, 1994, no.28; for the artist, see F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520, 1993, pp.278-81).

 The Gradual had been cut up and dispersed by the mid-nineteenth century (see Le Roux de Lincy, Vie de la Reine Anne de Bretagne, II, 1860-61, p.86), and a large number of initials and borders have survived (for a summary of the surviving fragments, see de Hamel, Gilding the Lilly, 2010, no.83, including the sole complete leaf now Massachusetts, Wellesley College, MS.6, which has the vast dimensions of 657mm. by 495mm.). The present leaves were clearly in Turin in the nineteenth or early twentieth century, and three of them have export ink-stamps from there on their backs.