The Renaissance has experienced a major revival in recent years, as demonstrated by the numerous exhibitions devoted to it. These events were an opportunity for the National Library of France to present many of its most precious manuscripts. Although known for a long time, one of them, and not the least, nevertheless remained behind. Masterpiece of illumination Tours of the early XVI th century the Missal of Jacques de Beaune(Department of Manuscripts, Latin 886) was not in a condition to be exhibited without a major restoration of its binding. It was also not possible to digitize it, the risks of increasing the damage being very strong. The desire to carry out this restoration was not forgotten, however, and treatment could be carried out in 2019 in the workshops of the Conservation Department of the BnF.
At the end of this restoration, the Missal of Jacques de Beaune will be presented to the public on March 3, 2020 as part of the cycle of conferences ” Trésors de Richelieu ” (Auditorium of the Galerie Colbert, INHA) by Maxence Hermant, curator in the Manuscripts department , and Éric Bazin, restaurateur in the Department of Conservation.
The Missal by Jacques de Beaune takes its name from its famous sponsor. Jacques de Beaune, who had his coat of arms painted on several paintings in the manuscript, was treasurer of Anne of Brittany, bishop of Vannes, dean of the chapter of Tours in 1506, vicar general and administrator of the archbishopric of Tours in 1509. He died in 1511. If his Missal is for the use of Rome, some mentions attach it to the diocese of Tours, which allows to date it between 1506 and 1511. Large format (43.5 cm high by 31 cm wide, 438 leaves), it is enhanced with paintings by Jean Bourdichon, assisted by Claude’s Master from France. Painter and illuminator of Louis XI, Charles VIII, Louis XII and Francis I stJean Bourdichon was very active in the middle of the courtyard and Touraine bourgeoisie at the end of the XV th and beginning of the XVI th century. The Great Hours of Anne of Brittany , around 1508 (Latin 9474) are his most famous work. We also find very similar models in the Missal by Jacques de Beaune and in the Grandes Heures . In these two volumes, Bourdichon is at the top of his refined art where reigns a harmony underlined by the use of gold highlights and an almost sculptural plasticity.
The originality of Jacques de Beaune’s Missal lies in the presence of a second artist, the Master of Claude de France, who trained with Bourdichon and who had already worked with him in the Hours of Frederick of Aragon , circa 1501-1502 (Latin 10532), alongside the Neapolitan Ioan Todeschino. The Italian margins of this manuscript could be attributed to Todeschino but also to the Master of Claude of France, who imitated and copied it. It is this Italian lesson lived more closely and assimilated that the Master of Claude of France delivers in the Missal of Jacques de Beaune . If the miniatures are all produced by Bourdichon, it is to him that we owe all of the framing in the antique style.
The Missal of Jacques de Beaune received a new luxury binding in the middle of the XVI th century to an unknown sponsor. It was modified at the end of the XVI th century Nicolas Smoke, first chaplain of the King, Bishop of Beauvais, abbot of Beaulieu-lès-Loches, who was seeded add his number “NF”. It is a brown-red calfskin binding partially painted in black decorated with gilded nets and irons, on wooden boards, attributable to an anonymous Parisian workshop which is called Grolier’s last bookbinder, with reference to d other bindings supplied to the famous bibliophile Jean Grolier. The volume still retains its brass bolts and two of its clogs, probably from the period, which is particularly rare.
The Missal of Jacques de Beaunehad already undergone a restoration in the 1950s which has itself deteriorated. If the seam (which is probably not the original one) arrived in good condition, the jaws were open, with significant uplifts of leather. The restoration of 2019 consisted in its main lines of depositing the back in order to reincrust it, after restoration, in a half-cover of new leather, to deposit a part of the restorations of the 1950s, to strengthen the attachment of certain notebooks and hinges. This treatment made it possible to stabilize all of the constituent elements of the binding while allowing good workability of the book body, which can now be handled without risk. It was therefore possible to digitize this exceptional manuscript which should soon be available for consultation, in color and in high definition,
The works of Jean Bourdichon and the Master of Claude de France preserved at the National Library of France are being digitized and indexed. You can find them by searching the BnF Archives and manuscripts catalog: “Advanced search” / “Name”, type “Jean Bourdichon” or “Maître de Claude de France”. Links to Gallica appear in the records if the volumes have been digitized. The complete coverage of the work of these two artists (resumption of the notices and digitization in color) will be completed in the course of 2020.