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The Primer of Claude of France

Maker(s) &

Master of Antoine de Roche, illuminator, France, Romorantin


Fitzwilliam, Richard, 7th Viscount


illuminated manuscript






first quarter of 16th century


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: i eighteenth-century marbled paper flyleaf + iv eighteenth-century paper flyleaves (modern pencil foliation ii-v) + 10 parchment leaves (nineteenth-century ink pagination 1-15, modern pencil foliation 1-10) + iv eighteenth-century paper flyleaves + i eighteenth-century marbled paper flyleaf, 260 x 175 mm (110 x 65 mm), 260 x 175 mm (110 x 65 mm), 12 long lines, ruled in red ink

BINDING: eighteenth-century, red morocco over wooden boards, gilt edges

fol. 3r/p. 2 Alphabet (ABC)
fols. 3r-3v/pp. 2-3 Our Father
fols. 3v-4r/pp. 3-4 Hail Mary
fols. 4r-5r/pp. 4-6 Apostles’ Creed
fols. 5r-6v/pp. 6-9 Grace at Mealtimes
fols. 6v-7v/pp. 9-11 Act of Confession, beginning, Misereatur nostri omnipote[n]s deus
fols. 7v-8r/pp. 11-12 Prayer for Mass, beginning, Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus
fols. 8r-8v/pp. 12-13 Prayer for Mass, beginning, Agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi
fol. 8v/p. 13 Prayer for Mass, beginning, In manus tuas domine co[m]mendo

DECORATION: Two full-page miniatures with gold architectural frames: p. 1 frontispiece, Anne of Brittany, kneeling at a prayer desk beside a youthful Virgin Mary, presented by St Anne to the enthroned bishop, St Claude; a book bound in red rests on the prayer desk, which is covered in a blue cloth ornamented with fleurs-de-lis and gold initials A; the carpet bears Anne’s arms (France impaling Brittany), which are also held aloft by the angel on a pillar in the left border and occur in the lower one encircled by the motto, PENSON EN DIEU, with sprays of blue flowers on a gold ground on either side; inscribed, AVE MARIA GRACIA PLENA DOMINUS; AVE MARIA GRACIA PLENA DOUMIN[U]S TECU[M]; AVE MARI[A]; AVE MARI[A]; AVE MARIA GRA[CIA]; p. 14 endpiece, Claude of Brittany, kneeling at a prayer desk, presented by St Claude to the enthroned St Anne who holds an open book on her lap and is teaching the Virgin Mary to read; the prayer desk, on which an open book lies, is covered in a blue cloth ornamented with fleurs-de-lis and gold initials C; Anne’s arms (France impaling Brittany), are held aloft by the angel on a pillar in the right border and occurs in the lower one encircled by the motto, PENSON EN DIEU, with sprays of blue flowers on a gold ground on either side; inscribed, O MATER DEI M[EM]ENTO MEI; AVE MARIA GRACIA PL[ENA]; AVE MARIA GR[ACIA].
Thirty-six small miniatures, three per page, depicting the Creation, Fall, and Redemption, in gold architectural frames with French captions replete with orthographic errors: p. 2 COMENT DIE LE PERE FIT LE CIEL & LA TE[RRE], God the Father enthroned in the heavens with receding landscape below; COMENT DIEU LE PERE FIT LES ANGES, God surrounded by cherubim and seraphim with rebel angels falling below; God with beasts and birds flying overhead; p. 3 COUMENT DIEU FIS LE SOLLE ET LA LUNE, God standing beside sea filled with fish, with sun, moon and stars overhead; COUMENT DIEU FIS ADEM ET VEE, Creation of Eve; God flanked by Adam and Eve; p. 4 COUMENT SAMTEM TANTTA ESVENO, Garden of Eden with serpent in tree addressing Eve; COUMENT FUS DESU D’EVE LE FRUIS, Eve offering fruit to Adam; Expulsion; p. 5 COMENT ADEMEM LABOURE LA TERE, Adam hoes and Eve spins; COUMENT ADEM AMVOYIA SOM FIS, Adam, on his deathbed, addressing his son, Seth; Seth barred by angel from entering the Garden of Eden; p. 6 COUMENT ADEM MOURI ET SON FIS, Burial of Adam, with Eve and others at graveside, and Seth dropping seeds from the Tree of Mercy on the head of the corpse; COUMENT LE PERE FURES ES LEMBES, Castle inhabited by naked figures, with souls on fire under a rock surmounted by a devil (representing Limbo); God with personifications of Justice, Peace, Mercy, and Truth; p. 7 COUMENT IEUSTIS ENBRASE MIRERICO, God with Personifications of Mercy and Truth, who embrace, and Justice and Peace, who are about to kiss; COUMEN L’EVESQUE DIT A L’EMGES QUE IL FEROIT, Enthroned high priest speaks to the angel Gabriel; Enthroned high priest, shown with attendants, sends messenger to fetch Virgin Mary; p. 8 COUMENT LE MESGES VIENT APOURTER LES, Virgin Mary reads letter delivered by messenger; COUMENT L’EVESQUE AMVOIGA QUERE LA VIEGE MARIE, Virgin Mary approaches the high priest; Youth on horseback summons St Joseph; p. 9 COUMENT LA VARGE FLURIST A IOSEPH, St Joseph, bearing a sprouting green branch, and other suitors with barren white rods, in a church; COUMENT LA VIEGE MARIE FUS MARIE, Marriage of Virgin Mary and St Joseph; Virgin Mary weaving and St Joseph with hammer and chisel; p. 10 COUMENT L’EMGE VIENT SALLUER, Annunciation; COUMENT SA COUS RINEVIN LA VIRITE Visitation; Virgin Mary, reads her prayer book as St Joseph takes his leave; p. 11 COUMENT LA VIEGE MARIEE PRIA DIEU, Virgin Mary reads prayer book as St Joseph departs; COUMENT DIEU DIT A L’EMGE, God with angels arrayed in three circles and Gabriel kneeling in front; St Joseph dreaming as the Virgin Mary reads; p. 12 COVMENT IOSEP VIENT CRIEME St Joseph kneels, begging the Virgin Mary’s pardon; COUMENT IL VIN LOUGES EN BELE St Joseph and Virgin Mary come to Bethlehem; Nativity with St Joseph and Virgin Mary adoring the Christ Child; p. 13 NOULITE TIMERE VAUUT AMENT, Annunciation to shepherds; COUMENT LES PATORAUS VINDRIO, Adoration of shepherds; Woman in white (Personification of Peace), comforts souls in Limbo.
Two rectangular panels in the upper borders above text blocks with symbolic or figurative scenes: p. 2 AMON PROMIE COMENCEMEN SOIT DIEU LE PERE TOUPUISSEM AMEN, Arma Christi (pincers, hammer, cross with crown of thorns, nails, lanterns, scourges, dice, whips, column with ropes, ladder, rooster); the Cross extends into the text block just before the ‘A’ of the alphabet to prompt the recitation of the prayer, In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, Amen; p. 11 Three shepherds on a grey ground.

Ten rectangular ornamental panels (pp. 3-10, 12-13) in the upper borders above text blocks, on gold or coloured grounds, with flowering branches, floral motifs, animals, birds, hybrids, putti, most with inscriptions in red and blue: p. 3 PATER NOSTER QUI ES IN CELIS SENTIFICETUR; p. 6 PENSON EN DIEU BOUNEMENT SEM MALPECE ET MALDIRE; p. 7 PRIE DIEU TOUS POUR LES TREPACE AUTEM NO EMPENS EN LUR; p. 8 LOAY MEMENE POINT DE MALNG; REGARDE LA FIN DE SE QUE TU FERAS; p. 9 REGARDE LA FIN ET PENCE A DIEU; REGARDE COUME NOUS DASON; p. 12 PENSON TOUS EN DIEU ET NO REGARDER LA FIN FERON; p. 13 NOULITE TIMERE VAUUT; REGARDE; O MATER DEI MEMETOUT MEIS; Red or blue initials [1-3 ll.] ornamented in white on gold grounds filled with floral motifs and occasional strawberries (p. 2) at the beginning of prayers; line-fillers with foliate and floral motifs on gold grounds; capitals highlighted in yellow.




parchment; support
ink; medium
pigments; medium
gold; medium


height, page, 260, mm
width, page, 175, mm
height, text, 110, mm
width, text, 65, mm


bequeathed; 1816; Fitzwilliam, Richard, 7th Viscount


Commissioned by Anne of Brittany, c.1505, for Claude (1499-1524) her eldest daughter by Louis XII; in England by the eighteenth century when a paper label with a description in English was pasted on the upper cover; Richard, seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion (1745-1816), acquired in 1808, his MS no. 67; his bequest, 1816.


Fitzwilliam, Richard, 7th Viscount; previous owner

Acquisition Credit:

Bequeathed by 7th Viscount Richard William


secundo folio; A, a (conventional minuscule) a (‘box a’), b, c, d



James, Montague Rhodes, Dr. 1895. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Pressp. 356-359

Binski, P.. Panayotova, Stella. 2005. The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries of Book Production in the Medieval West.London: , #105

Harthan, J.. 1977. Books of Hours and their Owners.London: p. 134-137

Büttner, F. O.. 1983. Imitatio Pietatis. Motive der christlichen Ikonographie als Modelle zur Verähnlichung..Berlin: p. 67, 210, #fig. 58

Panayotova, Stella. 2016. Colour: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts.London: The Fitzwilliam Museum, #39

Wieck, R. S.. 2014. Miracles in Miniature: The Art of the Master of Claude de France.New York: The Morgan Library and Museump. 16, 28, 30, #fig. 20

Brown, C.. 2010. Like Mother, Like Daughter: The Blurring of Royal Imagery in Books for Anne de Bretagne and Claude de France. D. S. Brewer
Source Title: The Cultural and Political Legacy of Anne de Bretagne: Negotiating Convention in Books and Documents()
p. 103, 108, 111

König, Eberhard. 2001. Das Guémadeuc-Stundenbuch: Der Maler des Antoine de Roche und Guido Mazzoni aus Modena.Ramsen: Antiquariat Bibermühle Heribert Tenschertp. 8, 134, 141-42, 184, #figs. 3, 59, 79-81

Wieck, R. S.. 2010. The Prayer Book of Claude de France. Hes & de Graaf Publishersp. 188-89, #fig. 7

Wieck, R. S.. Brown, Cynthia J.. 2010. The Prayer Book of Claude de France MS M.1166.New York: The Morgan Library and Museump. 181-82, 239-40, #figs. 2, 24

Wieck, R. S.. Brown, Cynthia J.. König, Eberhard. 2012. The Primer of Claude de France: MS 159, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.Lucerne: Quaternio Verlag Luzern

König, Eberhard. 2009. Leuchtendes Mittelalter.Ramsen: Antiquariat Bibermühle Heribert Tenschert

Sheingorn, P.. The Wise Mother: The Image of St Anne Teaching the Virgin Mary.
Source Title: Gesta 32 (1993)
p. 76-77, #figs. 14-15

Wieck, R. S.. The Primer of Claude de France and the Education of the Renaissance Child.
Source Title: The Cambridge Illuminations: The Conference Papers(2007) : 267-277
p. 267-277


Object Number: MS 159
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 200903; input: ; modified: 2016-12-01)


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