|The Binding of Books
An Essay in the History of Gold-Tooled
Bindings by Herbert P. Horne
|French Bindings 23
|The most probable solution of this difficult question would seem to be found in the assumption,
that Le Gascon was none other than Jean Gillede, whose daughter Badier married, and to
whose trade he succeeded. But having concisely stated this vexed question, it will be more
profitable, I think, to discuss the bindings themselves, than to attempt to disentangle the
discrepancies of this history.
The designs upon these bindings are principally of two kinds. In the more original, the designer,
recurring to, and refining upon, the style, which was in vogue at the end of the sixteenth
century, and which is popularly associated with name of the Eves, breaks up the field of the
boards, by means of an interlaced fillet of three lines, into a series of compartments: and these
compartments, he fills with figured work of a conventional character elaborated upon an
arrangement of spiral forms, and tooled wholly 'au pointille,' in place of the former laurel
branches, and other ornaments. In some examples, this scroll-work covers the whole field of the
compartment; as in the copy of the Paradisus Animae Christianae, Cologne, 16#, bound for the
brothers Dupuy and stamped with the couped head, which is figured in MM. Marius-Michel's La
Relz'ure Franfazse [PI. XII.]. The British Museum possesses a very splendid example of this
kind, in a copy of Alonso Chacon's Hzston'a utn'usque Belli DaciCt~ etc., Rome, 1616 [C. 14- c.
12.], bound in red morocco, inlaid with compartments of citron, olive green, and brown morocco
marbled with black; the colours employed by Badier in his binding of the Imitation. The panels of
the back are inlaid and tooled in a manner similar to that of the boards. Among the Egerton
manuscripts in the same collection, is a Pontificate, bound in red morocco, and finished with
similar ornaments [Eg. MS. 1067.]. This binding, which bears the arms, and cypher, of
Domenique Seguier, Bishop of Meaux, from 1637 to 1658, is figured in PI. IX.
In other examples, the scroll-work but partially covers the field of the compartments: as in the
binding of a manuscript, executed by Jarry in 1658, of Adonis, a poem by La Fontaine, which is
figured in MM. Marius-Michel's La Reliure Fran~aise [PI. XIV.J; and, again, on the binding of a
Book of Hours executed for Francois I., now in the British Museum [Ad. MS. 18, 853.J. The edges
of this volume, which is bound in red morocco, bear a design painted in colours, upon a gold
field, and outlined by a series of tooled dots, or points. This method of decorating the edges is
characteristic of the richer volumes attributed to Le Gascon: and the edges of the copy of
Chacon's History are ornamented in the same way.
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