French Decorative Bookbinding - Sixteenth Century

l'atelier des reliures LOUIS XII et FRANÇOIS Ie
the decorative bookbindings from the workshops of Louis XII and Francis I

click to enlarge

Comparative Diagram 1 - virtual bookbinding No. 39 vs actual binding Inventory No. 38

(click on this image to see an enlargement)

We find a rubbing taken from an atelier Louis XII binding on page 560, of the 1984 catalogue of Denise Gid Catalogue des Reliures Françaises estampées à froid dans la bibliothèque Mazarine, Paris, 1984, Tomb I. She makes no mention of it as being from this atelier, and it was not recorded by Dacier or Guignard. It is an interesting and mysterious binding for a number of reasons.

click to enlarge

(click on the image to see an enlargement)

434 data

By chance I discovered the binding No. 38 while searching the internet for Louis XII about three years ago, it was another freshly discovered Louis XII binding. Now comparing it to Gid's 434 rubbing I was inspired to try to recreate the 434 binding which is entirely similar, and probably made around the same date. In the first 12 Louis XII examples of Dacier we see the name of Tissard and Gourmont more than a few times and so I recently started searching for information about these two men. You will notice in the 434 reference data that this binding encloses a book printed by Gilles de Gourmont and that has the name of Tissard gauffered into the gilt of the page ends Magister Franciscus Tissardi. Of the 12 Louis XII examples cited by Dacier, his bindings number 4 and 5 contained books by Francois Tissard printed by Gilles de Gourmont, The first binding contained Liber gnomagyricus and three other works by Tissard; Chrysoloras, Homère, and Hésiode all from 1507, this binding has to have been made after the 1st of December 1507. The next binding, Dacier's no. 5. containing Grammatica Hebraïca,1509 plus the four other works in the 1507 volume. This binding has to have been made after 29 January 1509 (printing date). We are primarily looking for clues concerning the reliures of the atelier of Louis XII however when we look at the history of Francois Tissard and Gilles Gourmond we touch the tip of an enormous iceberg of information. These two men have their names strongly engraved in the early period of the French Renaissance due to their historic enterprise of producing the first printings in France of books in the Greek language. Really there is much more to this story which concerns the arrival of humanist learning in France. We need not dwell on this subject as there is now libraries filled with books about humanism. However within these books there is also a lot of information concerning Tissard and Gourmont, perhaps a thorough search of this documentation will lead us to discover the real identity of the atelier of Louis XII. The life of Tissard is in itself a very interesting subject, that will be best tackled on a new page, however do not forget the binding shown above, No. 39, as it links back into this story as a mysterious and unexplained relic.

Click on this link to see the next page

Click on this link to return to the Inventory page

about the author VIRTUAL BOOKBINDING