Tuesday, March 16, 2021

An 18th-Century Gospel Book from Notre-Dame de Paris

Here’s another great find from the website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, a Gospel book for the major feasts of the year, produced in 1753 for the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. (Département des Manuscrits, Latin 9461) Almost every one of its 110 pages has an illustration, illuminated letter, or decorative element of some kind, so this is just a selection of some of the nicer one; the complete book can be seen in high resolution scans, and downloaded as a pdf, at the link above. Last year, I shared pictures of an Epistle book and Gospel book, both in a similar style, made for the Royal Chapel at Versailles.
The day Mass of Christmas
The Presentation
The Annunciation
Maundy Thursday
The feast of St Mark the Evangelist, with his symbol, a lion, in the illuminated letter. The Gospel is that of the Rogation procession, Mark 11, 22-26, according to the Neo-Gallican Use of Paris.
An example of a decorative element placed at the end of a Gospel to fill in the space left over on the page.
Corpus Christi
A special Gospel for the octave day of Corpus Christi in the Neo-Gallican Use of Paris, John 6, 58-70.
The Birth of St John the Baptist
Ss Peter and Paul. On the feast that commemorates the death of them both, St Paul is represented with the instrument of his martyrdom, a sword, but St Peter with the symbol of his betrayal of the Lord on the night of the Passion, the rooster: a remarkably tasteless expression of the Gallican church’s conflict with the Holy See.
An example of the floral decorations found on many of the pages.
The high altar of Notre-Dame as it stood before the depravations of the revolution, placed right before the titular feast, the Assumption.
The feast of St Louis IX, King of France, on August 25.
The Birth of the Virgin
The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, with a very vivid memento mori.
The feast of St Marcellus, bishop of Paris, on November 3rd; he is traditionally said to have tamed a dragon that was devouring the prostitutes of Paris before the holy bishop could convert them.
The common of the dedication of the church, with a depiction of the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem under King Solomon, as described in 3 Kings 8.
Another floral decoration.
The Mass for the death and burial of a person who is not a priest, with a representation of the raising of Lazarus.
The frontispiece: “The book of the Gospel according to the use of the metropolitan church of Paris, 1753.”

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