An Elaborately Painted Manuscript on Vellum Featuring St. Francis of Assisi, Presented in a Suitably Luxurious Binding

NOËL FRANCISCAINE.

([Barbizon]: 1927). 205 x 160 mm. (8 x 6 1/4"). [12] leaves (including half title, decorative title, and colophon; all other leaves painted on both recto and verso, single column, about 27 lines).

LOVELY CREAM-COLORED CRUSHED MOROCCO BY CHARLES LANOË (stamp-signed in gilt on front doublure), covers with intricate border composed of inlaid red, green, blue, and yellow foliate designs embellished with gold-tooled floral sprays, each corner incorporating the head of a dragon with a gilt spray emanating from the mouth, with matching FULL MOROCCO DOUBLURES, each with "L" shaped bar composed of colored inlays that include a series of very small chain links, each end with a burst of acanthus-like inlays, space between bar and edge of binding filled with dense gilt vine-stem and small floral inlays, cream-colored watered silk endleaves, all edges gilt. Housed in a matching ecru morocco clamshell box, lined with velvet (morocco a bit darkened and the bottom lightly soiled). With decorative title page consisting of two large initials painted blue with white highlights, one inhabited by a large flower, on painted gold ground, a full border of painted acanthus on gold ground and with hairline vines terminating in gold ivy leaves; contents with line fillers in pink, blue, and gold, and many one-line initials in pink or blue, highlighted in white, on gold ground, 25 three- to eight-line decorative initials in blue or pink with white tracery on gold ground, some inhabited by floral elements, THREE LARGE MINIATURES, FOUR SMALLER MINIATURES, AND 10 VIGNETTES (the large miniatures about half-page, small miniatures about a quarter of a page, vignettes in quatrefoil frames and about 35 mm. square), MOST PAGES WITH A FULL BORDER (and the others with three-quarter borders) of blue and gold acanthus tangled with various fruits, flowers, and other objects (including coats of arms, a peacock, and a white dog), long gold bars on either side of the text incorporating flowers and other decoration, final page with a very small image of an angel playing the harp. The miniatures, illuminations, and calligraphy all done by Pierre Cornilliac, signed by the artist on the title page, with colophon on final leaf noting that this unique work was made by Pierre Cornilliac for Louis Fricotelle, finished in Barbizon on 3 May 1927. With engraved and colored paper bookplate leaf of Louis Fricotelle at front of volume; rear of volume with two vellum cuttings (apparently a trial drawing and painting for vignettes that were never added) pasted to paper flyleaf, the next leaf with taped folding invitation for an exhibition of the works of Cornilliac at the Galerie George Petit, dated 1927 (this work among the items listed). A minor stain along edge of front doublure, very thin, faint streak on lower board, one opening with a thin strip of light browning along fore and lower edges (where the tissue guard did not quite reach), but A FINE MANUSCRIPT with negligible faults, and THE PAINTINGS IN PERFECT CONDITION.

Styled after a Medieval Book of Hours, this exuberantly illuminated modern manuscript is full of visual interest on every page, with handsomely painted miniatures, and attractively presented in a bespoke binding and box designed to match the contents. The text comes from a collection of tales and legends by French academic Émile Gebhart (1839-1908) and tells the story of a meeting between the wealthy Cardinal of Venice and the ascetic St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Order of Friars Minor. The large miniatures show the progression of the cardinal and his entourage--which includes canons, brightly dressed minstrels, squires, knights in armor, and hunters with their dogs--en route to Rome to join the Lateran Council of Pope Innocent III. The smaller vignettes located in the lower borders depict various events from the life of St. Francis--a stark contrast to the pomp and opulence of the cardinal and his party. When the two holy men eventually meet, the cardinal is deeply moved by Francis' example, and he leaves with a renewed sense of faith and greater humility. All of these miniatures and vignettes, whether they depict a crowd of ten or a lone figure, are painted with great attention to detail, a vibrant color palette, fully realized scenery, and attractive composition. One is also struck by the sheer volume of decoration on each page: lavishly illuminated initials and lush borders fill the margins with brightly painted acanthus and flowers of purplish-blue, red, pink, and gold, as the eye is constantly engaged.

Setting the stage for this manuscript is the luxurious binding, executed by Charles Lanoë (1881-1959). Lanoë trained at the Ecole Estienne and the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs before working as a doreur (gilder) for Charles Meunier and Quesnel and subsequently joining the workshop of Petrus Ruban in 1903. There, Flety tells us, "very quickly, thanks to his skill, his gifts, and his artistic training, he became the main collaborator" of Ruban, and succeeded his master in 1910. Lanoë was also something of a painter, wood engraver, and musician, and his painterly instincts are noticeable here: with numerous inlays and gold tooling on ecru-colored morocco, the binding gives the effect of Medieval manuscript illumination on vellum.

Despite the beauty and accomplishment of the manuscript itself, we could find no information about our artist, Pierre Cornilliac, nor any other manuscripts attributed to him. The man who commissioned this work, Louis Fricotelle, has proven almost equally elusive; he seems to have been a publisher, but we were not able to find any other biographical information. There are a few auction records, however, that mention his ex-libris, and these books suggest a discerning taste. He was evidently especially drawn to deluxe copies of limited edition works that include original artwork. For Fricotelle, a connoisseur of fine books, to commission an illuminated manuscript like the present one shows that he must have thought very highly of our artist's skills, and to provide such a luxurious binding and box for this work confers upon it an elevated status.
(ST16801)

Add to Cart Price: $12,500.00

PJP Catalog: 78.041

NOËL FRANCISCAINE. ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM - MODERN, ÉMILE ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI. . GEBHART, BINDINGS - CHARLES LANOË.
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