Skip to content


Original price £1,250.00 - Original price £1,250.00
Original price
£1,250.00 - £1,250.00
Current price £1,250.00

[Spirituality]: Recüeil de Plusieurs Ouvrages de Pieté. [France, c.1688].

An attractively-presented and eminently portable seventeenth-century devotional book, perhaps made by a monk or a nun. This manuscript includes instructions for prayer, devotional exercises, and religious guidance more generally, all in French, with a particular emphasis on the ‘ame solitaire’ (isolated soul). Sections such as ‘L’ame solitaire et ses entretiens avec les Crucifix’ (p. 193) and ‘Les Lumières d’une ame solitaire qui se prepare a la Mort’ (p. 118) would have been especially well-suited for individuals living a life of enclosure. For comparison, the men who lived ascetic lives at Port-Royal were known as the ‘Solitaires’.

The visual impact of the manuscript is accentuated with gilt marbled edges, a technique that creates a similar effect to a fore-edge painting: the edges appear mostly gold when the book is closed, but the marbled pattern emerges when the pages are fanned.

Interestingly, there is evidence suggesting continued use of the book, as a later piece of devotional ephemera dedicated to Saint Augustine is loosely enclosed. For comparison, Augustine—whose was of course central to the Jansenist movement—is cited in the text itself (pp. 119, 260). The crucifixion scene also appears to have been added later.

A table of contents is included at the start of the manuscript. On the preceding blanks, a prayer (now lacking the start) has been added in the main hand corresponding to ‘Hymne pour la Pentecoste, à Vespres’ (Prieres Chretiennes 1686, p. 147).


Manuscript. One volume, approx. 12.5 x 8.5 cms in binding, pp. [20] 276 [2]; all except 6 pages with writing. Title page after table of contents. Writing area typically approx. 10.5 x 5.5 cms, c.10 lines to the page, no ruling. Mostly in a single hand, no catchwords.

At least one folio lacking before the first unnumbered blank, with loss to the start of the prayer added here (for the text, which was not added by the main scribe, cf. Prieres Chretiennes 1686, p. 147). One folio excised after p. 276, possibly blank.

Intaglio print depicting Christ on the cross to unnumbered verso facing p. 1, apparently added later and by Jean-Georges Wille after Le Brun (cf. Le Graveur 1847, p. 6). Caption partially clipped (Ah! Que ton Cœur <…>).

Later devotional image of Saint Augustine loosely enclosed between pp. 128 and 129 (approx. 7.5 x 5.5 cms). On paper, decorated with gold frame, caption to recto (Saint Augustin) and text to verso (Craignons l’inconstance disait ce saint évêque, parce qu’elle est un des plus grands obstacles à l’avancement dans la piété. Practique. Persévérer avec courage dans la bonne voie.) Water damage to left-hand side.

Bound in black goatskin over boards, gold-tooled single fillet frame to both covers, gold-tooled frames to spine compartments, gold-tooled sides and dentelles. Gilt marbled edges. One free endpaper at front and one at rear. Marbled pastedowns and endpapers. Fragment of printed material (unintentionally?) adhered to front board, perhaps from a French newspaper article. Three columns of text, the surviving fragment mentioning the ‘festival de Savonlinn[a]’, presumably the Savonlinna Opera Festival.

Condition (textblock): light browning and spotting, water damage to inner margins. First folio loosening. Condition (binding): Leather delaminated, especially to rear cover and spine. Goldtooling faded.


  1. The start of a prayer(?) added in black ink on first unnumbered blank at rear (O dieu qui).
  2. Modern pencil note to verso of front free endpaper (29/h). 3. Formerly in the collection of Achille and Henri Moranvillé (1827-1895; 1863-1946). 4. Sold we believe as part of Paris, Tessier & Sarrou, 9 February 2016, lot 16. 5. Item purchased by us from an indirect source.


Le Graveur en Taille Douce ou Catologues raisonnés des estampes dues aux graveurs les plus célèbres par M. Charles Le Blanc de la Bibliothèque Royale de Paris, vol. 1 Jean Georges Wille (Leipzig: Rudolphe Weigel, 1847), p. 6.

Prieres Chretiennes selon l’esprit de l’eglise, pour servir d’Instruction aux Nouveaux Catholiques sur les devoirs ordinares de la Religion (Paris, Chez Francois Muguet, 1686), p. 147.