[FOUCQUET, Jehan]. Œuvre de Jehan Foucquet. Heures de Maistre Estienne Chevalier. Texte restitué par M. l’abbé Delaunay. Paris, L. Curmer, 1866-1867.
2 parts in 2 volumes 4to [286 x 208 mm] of: I/ (12) ll., 214 pp., (7), portrait of Pope Pius IX and 57 chromolithographs out of pagination; II/ x pp. of list of subscribers, viii pp. of foreword, 17 chromolithographed titles and 5 plates out of pagination, (42) ll., 24 ll., (2), (12) ll., 168 pp., 42 pp., (9) ll. Bound in full brown contemporary blind-stamped morocco, spine ribbed and blind-stamped, inner gilt border, green silk endleaves and doublures, gilt edges. Cases. David.
First edition and first issue of this « splendid publication reproducing with chromolithography, in gold and colours, the miniatures of Jehan Foucquet, in the 15th century » (Brunet). Vicaire, III, 766, Brunet, Supp. I, 513; Carteret, III, 244-245.
« This publication was printed in a run of 550 copies and offered for sale at the price of 360 francs. » (Vicaire).
« The text is surrounded with rich and elegant ornaments in the same style in gold, silver and colours. » (Brunet)
« Etienne Chevalier was the patron of Jehan Foucquet. It is for Etienne chevalier that Jehan Foucquet created the forty miniatures of a book of hours, true masterpiece of elegance […]. The attractive scenes created for the ‘Livre d’heures’ of Etienne Chevalier were reproduced with all the desirable care (4to, Paris, 1865, L. Curmer, editor). The gouache process received so much improving and come to help the drawer’s pencil so well, that it is almost the work itself that is offered to us. Here is the painter who closes the Middle-Ages and announces the Renaissance. If he paints a religious scene, the feeling of life comes in light through the pious timidity of old schools. Behind the world of Gospel such as the men of the 18th century were imagining it, men and monuments from the 15th century are appearing. This apartment where the archangel comes to greet the Virgin, it is a room like the ones Bramante and Primatice will fill in with marvels. While Job on his dunghill discourses with his friends, look at the background of the painting: it is the donjon of Vincennes, not the unfinished donjon that we saw during Saint Louis’ time, but the one on which we had raised floors at the end of the 14th century. Here is Etienne Chevalier devoutly kneeling in front of the Virgin; there in the adoration of the Magi, it is Charles VII surrounded with his Scottish guard. Is it and adoration of the Magi or a visit of the king to his provinces? When the king used to travel at that time, we would manage to finish the day in a fortified castle. The castle stands in the background of the scene; look how the troop rushes there! […] ». (Revue des deux mondes, 1865, pp. 799-800).
« Mr. Curmer gathered the pages of Estienne Chevalier’s book scattered in the four corners of Europe… Maistre Estienne Chevalier, who seems to have been one of Jehan Fouquet’s most serious patrons, was successively notary and king’s secretary, chief of accountings, treasurer of France, ambassador and controller-general of finances under Charles VII and Louis XI. By asking Jean Foucquet this sumptuous book in which he is naturally represented, and in which his initials and name are scattered in profusion, was he obeying a naïve and sincere admiration for the portraitist and illuminator from Touraine? […] his portrait, that Mr. Curmer made reproduced and of which we will talk later, gives us the idea of an intelligent and thoughtful mind. Besides the book was probably executed towards 1460, in the most determined period of talent of the master, after his return from Italy. This book must have taken up several years of Foucquet’s career… The work was published in parts. The simplicity of the set-up, the truthfulness of the attitudes, the intimacy of the interiors, the charm of the landscapes, the precision of the costumes, are making so many attractive compositions. The strength of the expressions and the observation of passions and of dispositions make of some of them works of first-rate… Most of these chromolithographs were executed with a rare talent by Messrs Pralon, Regamey and Daumont. They express, as much as the elaborate process allows it today, the intensity of the purple, the deepness of the azure, those gilt hatchings that Jean Foucquet liked to hand out even on the monuments and the clouds. » (Gazette des beaux-arts, 1866, pp. 395-397)
The work is illustrated in first state with 80 splendid chromolithographs out of pagination. Fouquet wanders more and more clearly, in his books of hours, from traditional page lay-out and inaugurates a new format of illustration. The artist gets rid of the floral borders and gets back for the benefits of the image the maximum surface available on the page. The miniature becomes a painting. This new concept marks a turning point in the history of French illumination.
A beautiful copy of this splendid publication, preserved in its contemporary binding in brown blind-stamped morocco lined with green silk.