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Prayer book

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1623 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, with enamel and emeralds

  • Museum number:

    M.255-1984

  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 6, The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery, case CA11

This prayer book was made for the personal devotion of a client of fashion and wealth. Inside the cover the first section of the book is a printed Office of the Virgin Mary, dedicated to the queen [Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII], published by Sebastien Huré, rue St Jacques, Paris, in 1623.

The enamelled leaves and peas on the cover are in the pea-pod style which is known from published sheets of ornament dating from 1612 to the 1640s. The style is a free interpretation of pea pods, sometimes containing peas, sometimes opening to release their peas. It was pre-eminently the creation of Paris goldsmiths. With the French wars of religion for the most part finished, and a degree of tolerance for the Protestants, the return to peace in Paris saw a flourishing of the luxury arts.

Physical description

Prayer book in a gold cover decorated in green and white enamel and set with cabochon emeralds. Each side of the cover has a border of leaves in pea-pod style enamelled in opaque white. Undulating bands of transulent green enamel over an engraved ground run diagonally between the borders and are separated at intervals by opaque white enamel peas.

The book contains a printed Office of the Virgin, dedicated to the queen [Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII], published by Sebastien Huré, rue St Jacques, Paris, in 1623. On the title page it is described as 'Office de Nostre Dame, avec plusieurs devotes oraisons etc, Litanies, dediées a la reyne'. The dedication to the queen is conventional, but Anne of Austria's piety was both deep and well-known. The Office is bound with other prayers of devotion, including 'ORAISON TRES DEVOTE SVR LA PASSION DE NOSTRE SAVVEUR & Redempteur Iesus Christ', published by Pierre le Faucheur, 'rue Iudas', in 1623.

Place of Origin

France (made)

Date

ca. 1623 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold, with enamel and emeralds

Dimensions

Height: 5.3 cm, Width: 4.2 cm, Depth: 1.8 cm

Object history note

None prior to its acquisition from Garrard, London, in 1984.

Historical significance: A slightly smaller cover, enamelled in white, and densely mounted with rows of green facetted-glass stones to simulate emeralds is illustrated in A. Kugel, Joyaux Renaissance: une splendeur retrouvée, Paris, 2000, no. 134. It contains a book described as 'un missel' (i.e. for the Mass) published in Troyes by C. de Villiers including a calendar running from 1621 to 1637. The entry for this object quotes from the inventory of Jean Vangrol, royal goldsmith in the galleries of the Louvre, compiled in 1641: 'la couverture d'un livre d'or émaillé de blancq enrichy de quantité de rubis et de diamens, prisé et estimé à la somme de sept cens livres' (Archives nationales, Min. centr., XXIV-424; 7 mai 1641).

Historical context note

Made for the personal devotion of a client of fashion and wealth. The leaves and the peas are in the pea-pod style which is known from published sheets of ornament dating from 1612 to the 1640s. The style is a free interpretation of pea pods, sometimes containing peas, sometimes opening to release their peas. It was pre-eminent in Paris. With the French wars of religion for the most part finished, and a degree of tolerance for the Protestants, the return to peace in Paris saw a flourishing of the luxury arts.

In making the case for the acquisition of the prayer book Anna Sommers Cocks drew attention to the similarity between the small white-enamelled leaves and those on the frames of a number of the cameos in the Cabinet du Roi (Bibliothèque nationale, Paris). One example is a head of child set in an openwork green and white enamel frame (Fuhring and Bimbenet-Privat, p. 25, fig. 19).

Descriptive line

Prayer book in a gold cover decorated in green and white enamel and set with cabochon emeralds, France, about 1623.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Fuhring, Peter and Bimbenet-Privat, Michèle. Le Style 'Cosses de Pois'. L'Orfèvrerie et la gravure à Paris sous Louis XIII. Gazette des Beaux Arts. January 2002.

Materials

Gold; Enamel; Emeralds

Techniques

Enamelling; Stone setting

Subjects depicted

Prayer books

Categories

Books; Christianity; Jewellery; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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