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Jean Pichore (active c. 1501-20)

Cardinal York's Book of Hours c.1500

Manuscript on vellum with bodycolour and gold leaf. The manuscript has 132 folios and is numbered in pencil. | 25.8 x 17.4 x 4.4 cm (book measurement (conservation)) | RCIN 1005087

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  • This Book of Hours was produced in Paris for a French customer by Jean Pichore, master of a large commercial enterprise that produced a considerable number of illuminated texts, both sacred and secular. He had a brief foray into printing, in partnership with Remy de Laistre (active 1504), adapting his painted miniature designs for the medium of the metal cut; his designs were also used by the Parisian printer/publishers Simon Vostre (active 1490-1521) and Gilles and Germain Hardouin (active c.1500-1540). One of his most important early patrons was Cardinal Georges d'Amboise (1460-1510), Archbishop of Rouen. The Cardinal was an enthusiast of the Italian Renaissance, accumulating a large library of humanist texts, and it may have been he who influenced the classicising elements of the Pichore style.

    This manuscript's original owner has not yet been fully identified, but from a coat of arms that appears in several places in the manuscript (folios 23v, 66v, 77v) we know that he or she was connected with the Francon family from the Dauphiné in the south of France. The manuscript also contains several extra prayers in French, including prayers for the King's health and a prayer to St Roche (or Rock), popularly connected with Montpellier, but also invoked against the plague.

    Binding information

    Bound in pink velvet, with the arms of Cardinal York as Henry IX embroidered on both boards, with foliate cornerpieces and a scalloped border, embroidery done with silk and gold thread, gilt sequins and knobs, with gold metal edges and clasps.

    Catalogue entry adapted from The Northern Renaissance. Dürer to Holbein, London 2011.

    Unidentified patron; Aleksander Zasławski, voivode of Kyiv (d. 1629; bears his manuscript ex libris, folios 2r, 48v); Jan III Sobieski (1624-96), King of Poland, by 1683; his granddaughter Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702-35), wife of the Old Pretender, c.1718; by whom bequeathed to her younger son Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal York (1725-1807); by whom bequeathed to Sir John Coxe Hippisley (1745/46-1825); by whom presented to George IV when Prince of Wales after 1807.

  • Medium and techniques

    Manuscript on vellum with bodycolour and gold leaf. The manuscript has 132 folios and is numbered in pencil.


    25.8 x 17.4 x 4.4 cm (book measurement (conservation))

    25.8 x 4.4 x 17.4 cm (book in box)

    28.5 x 6.5 cm (whole object)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Horae B. Mariae Virginis. []

    These can be seen in the present miniature, with its borders of classical architecture instead of the naturalistic borders also popular in the late fifteenth century, and the Italianate interiors, with the trappings of a Renaissance scholar’s study.

    St Mark the Evangelist sits writing on a bench carved with a Nativity scene, attended by his emblem, the (winged) lion. The composition of this miniature, and others in the manuscript, were copied from the 'Briçonnet Hours' by Jean Poyer (active 1483-1503 in Tours), though this particular pose was used by Poyer for St Matthew rather than St Mark. As is usual in Books of Hours, St Mark appears last in the sequence of Gospel Lessons, and the text that accompanies the miniature is of the Ascension (Mark 16:14-20). The Gospel Lessons in Books of Hours were frequently the only part of the Bible that a layperson owned, and the Evangelists’ four texts encapsulate the liturgical year: St John’s text, read at Christmas, tells of God’s divine plan; St Luke’s of the Annunciation; St Matthew’s of the Nativity, read at Epiphany; and finally St Mark’s of the Ascension.

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