|In a 1933 article, published in Les Trésors des bibliothèques de France fasc. XVII, entitled LES PREMIÉRES RELIURES FRANÇAISES A DÉCORE DORÉ - L'ATELIER DE RELIEURES LOUIS XII, Émile Dacier presented 12 bindings that were, at that time the only known examples of the atelier Louis XII bindings. Then In October of 1935 in an article entitled Une treiziéme reliure Louis XII. published in Les Trésors des bibliothèques de France. Tome V (fasc. XVII - XX), he announced the discovery of another example, number thirteen. In 1966 Jacques Guignard expanded the number of known examples to perhaps as much as 40 by including bindings that may or may not be part of the production of the original workshop. These included the Francois Ier bindings. Since then a few more examples have been added however what surprises me is that neither Dacier nor Guignard were are aware of this Atlas Catalan, Louis XII binding. One of the most famous atlases ever made, and stored in the Biblothèque Nationale de France. Probably this binding was commissioned by Louis XII himself. But I am getting ahead of myself... I could hardly believe my eyes when I discovered this binding while searching through everything "Louis XII" in the BnF web site. Maybe everyone lost interest in the Louis XII bindings a few decades ago and now no one can be bothered to even notice this unique binding by the atelier of Louis XII?|
If you have been following my pages concerning this atellier and the Simon Vostre conspiracy. You will have observed that Guinard and many other authors have been hotly debating certain Louis XII tools, many are critical to following the evolution of this bindery. Dacier was first to publish a nearly complete catalogue of these tools, Guignard added others. However I was amazed to discover in the decoration of this Atlas Catalan binding, some tool imprints that were not known to Dacier or Guignard and that, to my knowledge, have not been recorded by anyone else.|
As you can see this binding has been rebound preserving the old leather, however the old leather and decoration are now much deteriorated. We can just barely make out some details of a floral palette that was used in the central panels. With the enlarged images that are available for this binding at the BnF site I found a few surviving scraps of imprint that enabled me to make sense of the otherwise vague patterns. Click on the images below to see enlargements.
|Fortuntely on the back board I found a nearly complete imprint of this palette. In Comparative Diagram 1, I have cut and pasted this imprint beside a long strip of central panel, (back board).|
|The next imprint that is a new addition to Dacier's catalogue was not hard to find, it can be seen around the central ornament shown at the top of this page, the shape is highly unusual. I have made a rough sketch of it and added it to the catalogue as 'W" as Dacier did not use this letter nor did he use the letter Z, therefore I have assigned that to this new floral palette. Although there is a slight similarity of this tool to a roulette found on the Linacre bindings, the two are very different. Another new tool is A-2 shown in Comparative Diagram 3. Much larger than the standard Gid type 24 that appears in most Louis XII bindings. Unfortunately this new tool is not found in Gid's catalogue, nor are the other new tools. The BnF have attributed this binding to Simon Vostre and give a date of 1515 for the execution of it. I will be writing to them asking if there is any proof or solid evidence to back these claims which seem now to be very doubtful.|
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