A Comparative Study of Sixteenth Century Azured Finishing Tools

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A close comparative study of the gold tooling attributed to Jean Picard with that of Claude de Picques, reveals an amazing similarity. It can be shown that the tool impressions on the book pictured above appear to be those of Jean Picard, which also may be inseparable from those of Claude de Picques. First however let us turn to the British Library description of this treasure found in their Database of Bookbindings

Shelfmark - Davis379
Held by- British Library
Country - France
Period - 16c
Cover Material - Goatskin (includes morocco, turkey etc)
Colour - Brown
Decorative Technique - Tooled in gold, Onlaid
Style/Type - Greek style, Interlacing ribbon/strapwork
Edges - Gilt & gauffered
Bookbinder - Picques, Claude
Ownership Mark - Fugger, Marx (1529-1597)
Author -
Title - Epistolae Graecae
Place of Publication - Venice
Date of Publication - 1499

Notes - 2 pairs of clasps. For other French 16c bindings see Marie-Pierre Laffitte & Fabienne Le Bars, Reliures royales de la Renaissance, Paris, 1999. Macchi states; Among the great book-collectors of the XVI th century are numbered the Augsburg bibliophile triumvirate of Ulrich, Johann Jakob and Marx (Marcus) Fugger. Of the three, however, only Marx Fugger (1529-1597) showed a particular predilection for fine bindings. A keen book-collector even in his student days, he had luxurious bindings made for him by the foremost masters in Lyons(?), Venice and Paris. T. Also c. 1550, Paris, bound for Marcus Fugger. Alla greca binding.

Attributed to Claude de Picques (M. Foot, The Henry Davis Gift, I, p. 170-182 ). See M. von Arnim, Einbandkunst, n. 41, 42. Binding reproduced in M. Foot's, Studies, p. 358, fig. 60.3.a; Ph. Marks, The British Library guide to bookbinding, p. 36, fig. 24. A French Renaissance binding with an similar decorative layout bound for J. Grolier by the same craftsman, is kept in Paris, Arsenal Library on text Petrarch, Il canzoniere, vellum ms. Italy, XV th century, shelfmark Ms. 8511 (Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, Trésors de la bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, p. 81-82, n. 155- Fr. Calot - L.-M. Michon - M. Angoulvent, L'art du livre en France, p. 243) as well as another example produced for Thomas Mahieu is listed by G.D. Hobson, Maioli, Canevari and others, p. 45, 69-70, pl. 52, n. XIV, on Biblia, Libri Moysi quinque, Paris, R. Stephanus, 1541; reproduced in H. S. Slater, How to Collect Books, p. 148.

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In the comparative diagram above and also below, the imprints on the left, of Picard, derive from database items c27d2l and c27d2....

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...the imprints on the right attributed apparently to Claude de Picques, derive from the binding shown at the top of this page. These two motifs are the only ones made by "azured" tools, with the exception of one other very small small leaf motif. If the person who decorated this binding was Claude de Picques it looks as though he may have been using Picards tools.

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