An Illustrated French Prayer Book in Magnificent Contemporary Color

Isaac [Isac, Isacsz), Jaspar [Gaspard] de (b. ca. 1583 - d. 1654), engraver; Coton, Pierre, S.J. (1564-1626)

L'Office de la Vierge Marie pour tous les temps de l'année. Reveu et corrigé de nouveau selon le Sainct Concile de Trante, Avec Toutes Les Prieres des heures du Jour et de la nuict, Composees par Le R. P. Coton de la Compagnie de Jesus. Enrichÿ de figures de nouvelle invention Dediées a La Royne.

Paris: Chez Jean Laquehay dans la Court d 1619


Octavo. Two volumes bound as one: 17.7 x 11.5 cm. [47] 188 lvs.; [56] lvs. Collation: a8, e8, i8, a-b8, c4, A-C8, D4, D-Z8, Aa-Cc8, D4; A-G8


Bound with:

Devotes oraisons chrestiennes, et catholiques. Ensemble plusieurs prières & oraisons faictes par P. Desportes, Abbé de Tyron: & autres. 

Paris: Chez Gabriel Clopeiau, ruë sainct Iaques, devant les Mathurins, 1617

Two beautifully illustrated French prayer books. The Office of the Virgin is illustrated with an engraved title and 24 full-page copper-engravings by Jaspar de Isaac, all beautifully hand-colored and heightened with gold. The "Devotes oraisons" is illustrated with an engraved title vignette and four full-page engravings (also by Isaac). Both works were colored by the same artist. The text is printed in red and black, ruled in red throughout. Bound in contemporary red morocco, gilt-ruled. In truly excellent condition, with very mild shine-through on the versos of the painted leaves, and two or three small marginal tears, no loss. Extremities of binding lightly rubbed.

Provenance: Armorial bookplate, "Biblotheque de Vernay", signed "Fontaine sculp."

Coton's "Office of the Virgin" was first published in 1609. The first illustrated edition appears to be that of 1615, printed by Clopeiau. That edition was the first to include the "Devotes oraisons chrestiennes, et catholiques". The present edition of the Office is dated 1619 on the engraved title and 1617 in the colophon. Although the "Devotes oraisons" were printed by a different printer, the volumes were clearly meant to be bound together.

The artist:

Born in Antwerp or Amsterdam around 1585, the prolific engraver and print dealer Jaspar de Isaac was active in Paris from 1608 until his death in 1654. "Etabli à Paris rue Saint-Jacques, paroisse Saint-Benoît, de 1608 à 1632 au moins, puis dans la même rue mais paroisse Saint-Séverin, en 1634 au moins, à l'enseigne du 'Chameau d'or' puis du 'Séraphin.'"(CERL)Jaspar was probably the son of the painter Pieter Isaacz. His son, Claude, also an engraver, continued the family print-selling business until his own death in 1672.

The author:

The Frenchman Pierre Coton was Henri IV's first Jesuit confessor. "The career of Coton is in many ways emblematic of France's turning away from the religious wars and towards a project of spiritual renewal and Catholic reform that forged a durable bond between the crown and the French Jesuits. From a family of politique magistrates, Coton had initially studied law, when he then experienced an inner 'conversion' and, against his father's will, entered the Society of Jesus. He went on to study theology at the Jesuits' prestigious Roman College, where his spiritual director was none other than Robert Bellarmine. Upon his return to France, his reputation as an anti-Protestant preacher brought him to Henry IV's attention and finally to the court, first as a preacher, then as a confessor and advisor."(Reinhardt, Voices of Conscience, p. 158)

I. De Backer-Sommervogel Vol. II, col. 1551; See Thieme-B. XIX, 229 and Hollstein IX, 229 (under the artist).