Bibliotheca Brookeriana: A Renaissance Library. Magnificent Books and Bindings

Bibliotheca Brookeriana: A Renaissance Library. Magnificent Books and Bindings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 67. Paradis, Ung petit traicte de Alkimie, [Paris, before 1540], contemporary morocco by the Pecking Crow binder for Anne de Montmorency.

Paradis, Ung petit traicte de Alkimie, [Paris, before 1540], contemporary morocco by the Pecking Crow binder for Anne de Montmorency

Auction Closed

October 11, 11:51 PM GMT


300,000 - 350,000 USD

Lot Details


Paradis, Paul Canossa, called. Ce livre contient ung petit traicte de Alkimie tourne de langue hebraique en langue françoyse. Manuscript on vellum. [Paris, before 1540]

A compilation of seventy-three recipes of practical alchemy, preceded by an explication of the terms used, and an indication of the days and the planets attributed to specific metals. Its author (d. 1549) was descended from an important Jewish family of Venice, the Meshulam (known as “Dal Banco”). He had converted to Catholicism and travelled to France, where he joined a sister, Françoise, at the court of the Queen of Navarre, Marguerite d’Angoulême, becoming her tutor in Greek and Hebrew, then in October 1530 professor of Hebrew at the Collège de France. He assumed the name “Paradis” about 1533 and was naturalized in 1537.

The manuscript was written for the soldier and stateman Anne de Montmorency (1493–1567), appointed by François I in 1538 Constable of France. Tooled in silver on the upper cover are the French royal arms on a semé of fleur-de-lis, and on the lower cover the motto of de Montmorency (Quod Habeo Hoc Tibi Do) on a semé of eagles. It apparently was bound for presentation to the King, but never delivered. In 1540, de Montmorency withdrew from the court, and by June 1541 he was disgraced. Paradis also wrote on vellum two copies of “La Vie et naissance du prophete Moyse traduicte de haebreu en françoys.” One (now Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 5093), dated October 1539, has de Montmorency’s arms and the Épée de connétable painted on the title-page; it is bound almost identically to our manuscript, except tooled in gold. The other (Paris, BnF, Mss français 2089) has de Montmorency’s Latin motto lettered on the upper cover, and a semé of fleur-de-lis on both covers; the royal arms and collar of the Ordre de Saint-Michel are painted on the title, and on the endleaves are inscriptions indicating that the volume entered the personal library of François I.

According to household inventories, Anne de Montmorency possessed a library of some 174 volumes, variously bound in vellum, velvet, and colored leathers. A recent census by Thierry Crépin-Leblond has located forty-nine volumes, including the present one. About half of these were examined by Mirjam Foot, who identified eight ateliers working for de Montmorency. She attributes the binding on this manuscript and on the Arsenal copy of “La Vie et naissance du prophete Moyse” to the Pecking Crow Binder, a shop patronized by the Francois I, by de Montmorency’s friend, Jean Grolier, by Cardinal Granvelle, Thomas Wotton, and other noted bibliophiles.

8vo (195 x 124 mm). Manuscript on vellum, in French in a humanist book hand, typically in 14 lines, 86 leaves (75 for illuminated title and text, 3 blank leaves, and 8 leaves of table), half-page illuminated coat of arms. Ruled in red. (Some mostly marginal soiling and natural discoloration.)

binding: Parisian brown morocco (202 x 131 mm), ca. 1539, by the Pecking Crow binder for Anne de Montmorency, tooled entirely in silver, now oxidized and resembling tooling in blind, on upper cover a single fillet around sides, border frame of multiple blind lines, tulip and stem at outer angles, in center arms of France in collar of the Ordre de Saint-Michel, surmounted by royal crown (arms of François I), surrounded by a semé of fleurs-de-lis; lower cover similar outer border, except fleur-de-lis at outer angles, in center elongated oval cartouche containing “QVOD • HABEO | HOC • TIBI • DO • | • AC TVVM • III” (What I have, I give it to you; from Acts of the Apostles, 3:6), surrounded by a semé of eaglets within a diapered ground, traces of 2 pairs of fabric ties, original vellum endleaves, gilt edges. (Minor repair to joints, corners rubbed.) Beige buckram folding-case.

provenance: Anne de Montmorency — possibly a gift to François I, King of France (r. 1515–1547) — Jean-Baptiste Prosper Blanchemain (1816–1879) — Jérôme Pichon (1812–1896; exlibris, with autograph note signed “B.J.P” on upper endleaf: “Memor fui dierum antiquorum. Ps. CXLII … Exemplaire d’Anne de Montmorency connétable de France donné par lui à François Premier après l’avoir fait relier d’un côté aux armes de ce prince et de l’autre avec mention de la donation: Quod habeo hoc tibi do – passage des actes des apôtres. Je l’ai eu par échange de Blanchemain. Le 2 plat de ce livre est semé d’oiseaux qui ont peut-être la prétention de représenter des alérions quoiqu’ils n’y ressemblent guères. J’ai 3 [above “deux” crossed out] de ces oiseaux [in a footnote: “alternis avec des fleurs de lis”] sur un joli exemplaire de l’arbre de vie appuyant les beaux lys de France de Fiecre [?] Doré 1542 in-8°. Indiquent ils la possession du connétable et sont ils des alérions dud[it] guldy [?] car l’alérion est de face commandans les armes cd-entis [?]. J’en ai autre sur un ex[emplaire] du Collège de Sapience de Fiecre Doré 1540 ou 1546 in-16.”; Maurice Delestre & Henri Leclerc with Paul Cornuau, Paris, Catalogue de la Bibliothèque de feu M. le baron Jérôme Pichon, 3–14 May 1897, lot 315), purchased by — Librairie Damascène Morgand, Paris (FF 2375) — François-Gustave-Adolphe Guyot de Villeneuve (1825–1898; Maurice Delestre & Édouard Rahir, Paris, 26–31 March 1900, lot 9), purchased by — Librairie Damascène Morgand, Paris (FF 2520; Bulletin mensuel, Nouvelle série, no. 20, Janvier 1920, item 8, FF 5000) — Cortlandt Field Bishop (1870–1935; American Art Association, New York, 5–8 April 1938, lot 42), purchased by — Lathrop C. Harper Inc., New York ($250 [“it was sold to Lathrop C. Harper for foreign order,” W. J. Wilson]) — Peter Ludwig (1925–1996) & Irene Maria Therese (née Monheim) Ludwig (1927–2010) — J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (among 144 manuscripts accquired from Ludwig collection via H. P. Kraus, in 1983; deaccessioned, ca. 1988, apparently via Jörn Günther Antiquariat) — Bernard Malle (1929–2008). acquisition: Purchased from Librairie Thomas-Scheler, Paris, 2014.

references: W. J. Wilson, “Catalogue of Latin and Vernacular Alchemical Manuscripts in the United States and Canada” in Osiris 6 (1939), pp. 649–659, no. 15, identified as “Ms 79 Formerly in the Estate of Cortlandt Field Bishop, New York City”). De Ricci, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada (New York, 1940), II, p. 1657; Von Euw & Plotzek, Die Handschriften der Sammlung Ludwig (Cologne, 1979–1985), III, p. 201–204; Crépin-Leblond, Livres du Connétable: la bibliothèque d’Anne de Montmorency ([Paris], 1991), p. 51, no. 39; Laffitte & Le Bars, Reliures royales de la Renaissance: la librairie de Fontainebleau 1544–1570 (Paris, 1999), p. 58; Foot, “‘Un grand Duc, immortel à la posterité’: Some Bindings for Anne de Montmorency,” in Bookbindings & Other Bibliophily: Essays in Honour of Anthony Hobson (Verona, 1994), pp. 117–129 (p. 121).