Epistolae et evangelia.
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A SPLENDID BINDING, FROM THE COLLECTION OF GORDON N. RAY
Woodcut device on title page, woodcut initials and ornaments throughout, printed in two columns.
Folio (350 x 230mm). , 404, lxiv, lxxviii, viii pp. Contemporary straight grain red morocco with ornate gilt tooling, upper with outer border of swirling curlicues, double fillet, repeated shell-like motif and delicate repeated floral pattern, corners with repeated monstrance and chalice motifs, centre with 'M A' or 'M W' foliate monogram, with floral crown above and garland of beribboned foliage below; lower with same ornately-tooled border and cornerpieces, centre piece an elaborate cross within which the face of Christ (shroud?), spine gilt in compartments with symbols of faith in each, title lettered in second compartment, inside gilt dentelles, striking blue painted endpapers, a.e.g. (wear to extremities, spine lightly and evenly sunned).
Paris, Sumptibus Bibliopolarum Usuum Parisiensium,
A popular eighteenth-century liturgical work, including several pages of musical notation, in a splendid contemporary binding ornamented with religious emblems and motifs, from the library of author and prolific collector Gordon N. Ray. The opulence of the gilt embellishment on this binding is striking, particularly in the use of religious emblems on both boards and the spine, with the vessels for the sacrament positioned in each corner, and the spine compartments housing popular Christian symbols: the anchor, with the stone tablets of the Commandments and the scriptures; two mitres with a monstrance and crucifix; the motif of the tetragrammaton in a triangle; and the menorah. The image of a face, presumably Christ, on the lower cover is particularly arresting, though confounding. This is the companion binding of another at the Morgan Library in New York, (PML 141370) with near-identical gilt tooling, though with some variation; the crucifix form with the face is on the upper cover, rather than the lower as here, and the monogram reads "VS".
A copy of the same work with an extremely similar monogram was thought by the Earl of Rosebery to be that of Marie Antoinette; though the similarity of the devices are striking, and perhaps not accidental, Olivier does not list this amongst her devices and arms (Olivier XXVI, pl.2508), in addition to which the 'A' here is lacking a crossbar. The presence of a near-identical binding with a different monogram would also challenge this suggestion. We have found another extant copy with a variant binding but identical monstrance and chalice tools.
Provenance: From the collection of famous author, collector and authority on illustrated books Gordon N. Ray (1915-86), from his bequest to the Morgan Library, from whence sold as a duplicate in 2002.
Stock Code: 214987