contributor.author: Amanda Luyster

title.none: Croenen, Book Production (Amanda Luyster)

identifier.other: baj9928.0809.008 08.09.08

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Amanda Luyster, College of the Holy Cross, aluyster@holycross.edu

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2008

identifier.citation: Croenen, Godfried and Peter Ainsworth, eds. Patrons, Authors and Workshops: Books and Book Production in Paris Around 1400. Synthema, vol. 4. Louvain, Paris and Dudley, MA: Peeters, 2006. Pp. xxi, 545. ISBN: 90-429-1707-5 (pb).

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 08.09.08

Croenen, Godfried and Peter Ainsworth, eds. Patrons, Authors and Workshops: Books and Book Production in Paris Around 1400. Synthema, vol. 4. Louvain, Paris and Dudley, MA: Peeters, 2006. Pp. xxi, 545. ISBN: 90-429-1707-5 (pb).

Reviewed by:

Amanda Luyster
College of the Holy Cross
aluyster@holycross.edu

The strength of this volume is twofold: 1) some essays provide a close re-examination of the often taken-for-granted terms of author, patron, and workshop, and 2) many essays manifest close inter-connections in terms of subject matter, creating a unified volume which leaves the reader with a much better understanding of the realities of the book trade in Paris c. 1400. This is an important collection, if somewhat variable in quality, and one which will need to be taken into account in subsequent examinations of French manuscript production in the late Middle Ages. It is primarily intended for a specialist audience, but the Introduction provides a clear and concise guide for non-specialists as well. Some essays could have better explicated the broader value and implications of their work toward the issues and topics at hand. Other essays, however (e.g., those by R. and M. Rouse and J. Lowden), accomplish this admirably and will therefore prove more interesting to a broader audience.

The focus of the essay collection is on the process of manuscript production, from the tasks of the libraires (commercial entrepreneurs who organized the production of manuscripts), their relation to authors, the role of patrons, and the impact of each of these individuals on text and programs of illumination, to the physical realities of workshops and their locations in medieval Paris. Throughout the volume, it is made clear that the concepts of "master" and "workshop" as promulgated by Millard Meiss do not apply to the organization of labor in the Paris book trade, which was much more fluid, complex, and intriguing, and one in which the "masters" played a less controlling role than one might have imagined from Meiss's model. [1]

The Introduction provides an invaluable guide to the book trade in Paris. Croenen describes the growth of book production in that city from the thirteenth century, the role of the university in promulgating the copying of manuscripts, and techniques stimulated by the importance of timely and cost-effective production, such as the pecia system and the use of models and stock images in illustrative programs. The Introduction places the collection within the tradition of the Rouses, in which archival and codicological evidence are studied alongside each other (rather than in separate traditions undertaken by distinct groups of scholars, neither of which takes full account of the contributions possible from the other). [2]

The volume is divided into five sections. I address each of these in order below, devoting a short paragraph to each of the twenty included essays.

Part I. Libraires and commercial book production

Kouky FIANU, in "Métiers et espace: topographie de la fabrication et du commerce du livre à Paris (XIIIeXVe siècle)," focuses on the topography of the book trade in late medieval Paris. Fianu highlights the role of the libraire, but also cautions that libraires who were settled in different locations (some more isolated) must have had different clients and working methods. Richard H. ROUSE, in "Pierre le Portier and the Makers of the Antiphonals of Saint-Jacques," discusses a manuscript which no longer survives, but for which the immensely-detailed records of its commission reveal much about the making of high-quality medieval manuscripts. The archives of the confraternity of Saint-Jacques-aux-Pèlerins retain "informative gossipy comments" which allow R. Rouse to trace the passing of the manuscript from the original libraire (Pierre le Portier) to Pierre's widow, Yolent la Portière, upon Pierre's death.

Mary A. ROUSE, in "Archives in the Service of Manuscript Study: The Well-Known Nicolas Flamel," argues convincingly that one of the few individuals of Paris c. 1400 who appears in popular culture (guidebooks, the Harry Potter series) has been largely misunderstood. Flamel's supposed career as an alchemist has long been debunked, but his identity as a "well-known producer of manuscript books" is equally false, as M. Rouse demonstrates. Flamel was instead a sort of public writer, one who could draft business letters and agreements; he also conducted a school to train others in this career. His extraordinary wealth, however, derived from his wife, Pernelle, who must have provided him with the initial capital to become "a speculator and rack-rent landlord." M. Rouse concludes that Flamel had nothing at all to do with book production in Paris. Archives, then, can serve not only to establish new knowledge, but to clear away the debris of past misconceptions.

Hilary MADDOCKS, in "The Rapondi, the Volto Santo di Lucca, and Manuscript Illumination in Paris ca. 1400," examines a banking family from Lucca who were prominent advisers and merchants at the courts of France and Burgundy. Jacques Rapondi, a libraire, was responsible for the production of some early fifteenth-century illuminated versions of the Légende dorée. Maddocks suggests that the inclusion of the Volto Santo legend, associated with Lucca, should be understood as Jacques' "signature" and evidence of his desire to attain an authorial role. She further posits that greater acceptance of the Volto Santo text within the upper classes might have enabled the upward social mobility of the Rapondi family. Stéphanie ÖHLUND-RAMBAUD, in "L'atelier de Jean Trepperel, imprimeur-libraire parisien (1492-1511)," undertakes a stylistic examination of the woodcuts used by Jean Trepperel. Öhlund-Rambaud also notes that the printing presses Trepperel used did not stop production despite frequent moves in the location of his shop: she determines that the printing presses must have been located in Trepperel's home, where they were inventoried at his death in 1522. The shops were therefore simply boutiques, not places of production.

Part II. Bibliophiles: their collections and their commissions

Gilbert OUY, in "Jean Lebègue (13681457), auteur, copiste et bibliophile," introduces the humanist Jean Lebègue and suggests that Lebègue may have had his own personal scriptorium, or if not, he certainly had access to professional copyists and painters, providing an alternative to the larger professional organizations working in association with universities. Ouy then undertakes to reconstitute Lebègue's library, the extent of which suggests the value which Lebègue and other humanists attached to learning.

Anne D. HEDEMAN, in "Making the Past Present: Visual Translation in Jean Lebègue's 'Twin' Manuscripts of Sallust," focuses on one of two manuscripts of Sallust created at the same time, one a schoolbook for the Orléans sons and one a personal copy for Lebègue. Lebègue, however, later dramatically revised his copy (BnF MS lat. 5762) by adding the Jurgurthine Wars, introduced by a unique second frontispiece. Hedeman examines two modes of translation current in Paris, the literal mode and the amplifying mode, and determines that although Lebègue adopted the literal mode in his translation of texts, the "visual translation" employed in the Jurgurthine Wars frontispiece has more in common with the amplifying mode, in which the translator plays an interpretive role. In that frontispiece, events from the Latin past seem to have been deliberately revised to reflect the French present. Hedeman concludes that the frontispiece emphasizes the just government that followed Jugurtha's revolt, perhaps offering comfort to Lebègue and others who lived through the troubled early fifteenth century.

John LOWDEN, in "Beauty or Truth? Making a Bible Moralisée in Paris around 1400," considers BnF MS fr. 166, the "last surviving Bible Moralisée," in conjunction with patrons, authors, and workshops. The manuscript was begun in Paris around 1400 for Philippe le Hardi, duke of Burgundy, was in part illustrated by two of the Limbourg brothers, and was left unfinished at the duke's death in 1404. Various artists continued to work on the manuscript until the late fifteenth century. Lowden carefully problematizes the term "patron," noting this term's potential to displace significant decisions from presumably lower-class illuminators to those of a higher social position. Furthermore, its use can disguise the actual circumstances of production. The duke of Burgundy, for instance, funded the book's production, but the Limbourgs lived and almost certainly worked in the Paris hôtel of the duke's agent, Jean Durant, and Jean was both their paymaster and overseer. The term "author" is also one which does not apply neatly to Bibles moralisées, which were probably a piecemeal affair, incorporating the work of a number of individuals. Although fr. 166 is a luxury manuscript and thus an exceptional case, Lowden's use of the manuscript to closely examine the concepts of patron, author, and workshop is a model worth following.

Part III. Authors and texts

Janet F. VAN DER MEULEN, in "Simon de Lille et sa commande du Parfait du Paon. Pour en finir avec le Roman de Perceforest," focuses her analysis on the question of why the Parfait du Paon was composed at a particular time (1340). Van der Meulen suggests that the poem should be understood in the context of Edward III's declaration on 26 January that he was king both of England and France. Whereas the Roman de Perceforest presented the glorious lineage of the English kings, the Parfait du Paon negates this heritage and instead paints Alexander as a just sovereign who refuses to tolerate insubordination from those who do not recognize his legitimate authority.

Silvère MENEGALDO, in "Les relations entre poète et mécène dans La Prison Amoureuse de Jean Froissart," questions whether it is more appropriate to view the author's creative liberty as constrained by the patron or whether the patron might act as a sort of co-author. Menegaldo examines "La Prison Amoureuse," by Jean Froissart, and finds support for this latter view: the patron, like love, may serve to inspire the poet to create, and thus function more as co-author than counter-author.

Alberto VARVARO, in "Problèmes philologiques du livre IV des Chroniques de Jean Froissart," decries the lack of any edition of Froissart's Chroniques which meets contemporary philological standards. Through careful philological analysis, he separates the manuscripts of Book IV into two families. One is more sumptuously illustrated and less faithful to the text, apparently aimed at wealthier owners who value the appearance of their volumes; the other is composed of more modest manuscripts responding to the needs of buyers more interested in the text itself. Susanne RÖHL, in "Le Livre de Mandeville à Paris autour de 1400," examines selected examples from the French-language tradition of the Book of Mandeville. Röhl suggests that the work's popularity is due to its position between narrative and reference work: in Burgundy and in the east of France, the Book of Mandeville was viewed primarily as a literary text, whereas in Paris, it was seen as a type of encyclopedia.

James LAIDLAW's essay, "Christine de Pizan: the Making of the Queen's Manuscript (BL Harley 4431)," outlines a four-year research program on this manuscript, begun in 2004 and carried out by an international team of scholars in conjunction with the British Library. Laidlaw focuses on Christine de Pizan, "the first woman in Europe to earn her living as an author and publisher," and what Harley 4431 reveals about Christine's presentation copies, which were planned and decorated under her supervision.

Part IV. Scribes

Margaret CONNOLLY and Yolanda PLUMLEY, in "Crossing the Channel: John Shirley and the Circulation of French Lyric Poetry in England in the early Fifteenth Century," focus on the French lyric poems that the scribe (and trusted household retainer) John Shirley copied into an anthology, now known as Cambridge, Trinity College, MS R.3.20. They suggest that Shirley, who had visited France many times as part of the retinue of Robert Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, may have been responsible for introducing these French lyrics to England.

Emilie COTTEREAU outlines a proposed research project in "Les copistes en France du Nord autour de 1400: un monde aux multiples visages." She maintains that copyists have not been studied as a group, only in certain individual cases, such as author-copyists or the copyists employed by certain important patrons. Cottereau uses a group of 327 signed manuscripts produced in the north of France to examine social status and the circumstances of the copying (whether as part of a habitual trade, for personal use, etc.).

Maria KALATZI paints the portrait of an idiosyncratic individual in "Georgios Hermonymos: a Greek Scribe and Teacher in Paris." Hermonymos was born in the Peloponnese, moved to Rome, where he joined the circle of cardinal Bessarion, and was accused of espionage in England, before beginning his long career as a scribe and teacher in Paris (from 1476 onwards). Some of his students describe his later teaching as less than inspiring (they also complain of the high fees he charged), but Kalatzi concludes that Hermonymos's copies and translations were important contributions to the study of Greek in Paris.

Part V. Artists and illuminators

Sue Ellen HOLBROOK's contribution is entitled "The Properties of Things and Textual Power: Illustrating the French Translation of De Proprietatibus Rerum and a Latin Precursor." She examines the pictorial programs of two French copies of the De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add. 11612 and Pierpont Morgan Library M.537) and one Latin precursor (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, CFM 15). Bartholomew the Englishman's encyclopedia was one of the earliest Latin books to be translated into French as part of Charles V's ambitious translation program. Holbrook interprets the increased display of learned authorities and didactic activities in the French manuscripts as perhaps due to the apparent lack of visual models for certain topics but also, and importantly, as in support of the aim of Charles V's translation project: the acquisition of "textual power" by French secular readers who were now able to access this work in their own vernacular.

Heidrun OST, in "Illuminating the Roman de la Rose in the Time of the Debate: The Manuscript of Valencia," analyzes a selection of illustrations from the rich program of the Valencia manuscript (University Library MS 387). She focuses on the illustrations of ancient history and mythology, which she suggests are strongly influenced by the traditions found in illuminated French and Latin adaptations of Ovid. Ost concludes that the painters had access to a range of pictorial models and poetic works, and that this access might have been facilitated by the manuscript's patron, possibly Jean de Berry, whose interest in antiquity is well-documented.

Catherine REYNOLDS, in "The Workshop of the Master of the Duke of Bedford: Definitions and Identities," undertakes an examination of the workshop associated with the English regent, John duke of Bedford. Using analysis of the border hands, Reynolds argues for such a workshop's corporate existence over some fifty years, possibly run by one or more master painters, who would have imposed a common style on journeymen and apprentices and maintained associations with other painters.

Jenny STRATFORD, in "The Illustration of the Songe du Vergier and some Fifteenth-Century Manuscripts," examines the transmission of illustrative traditions in the Songe du Vergier and its Latin predecessor, the Somnium Viridarii. It has been proposed that Charles V's original (dated 1378) dedication copy of the Songe du Vergier served as the model for the illustration of some later fifteenth-century copies of both the Songe and the Somnium. Stratford's research shows that a small group of books dating from the second quarter of the fifteenth-century did depend at least partly on the illustrations of the 1378 Songe du Vergier manuscript, suggesting that the Louvre library was accessible during the 1420s, but by the mid-fifteenth-century, when more copies were made, Charles V's manuscripts had been dispersed in England, and new images were devised.

The book contains 17 color plates and numerous black-and-white illustrations as well as indices of the names, subjects, and manuscripts cited. Selected individual essays are also accompanied by appendices. Through the multi-faceted lens provided by this collection, the book production of Paris around 1400 comes more vividly to life.

-------- Notes:

1. Croenen, "Introduction," pp. 12-14. Millard Meiss, French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry, multiple volumes, London, 1967-1974.

2. Richard H. and Mary A. Rouse, Manuscripts and their Makers, Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris, 1200-1500, London, 2000.