Breviarium Romanum 1647

BREVIARIUM ROMANUM, Pars Aestivalis Parisiis 1647

If you are not a member of the Catholic Clergy, you might not be familiar with a Breviarium (Breviary). I found a good description on The Catholic Resource Network site,


"THE LITURGY, or official public worship of the Church, comprises the holy sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacraments and Sacramentals, and the canonical hours, or official daily prayer of the Church. It is the latter which is contained in the Roman Breviary, par excellence, the prayer-book of the Church. usually appears in four volumes each containing the Offices of about one-quarter of the ecclesiastical year. These four are:

1) The winter volume (pars hiemalis) comprising the Offices of Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany, up to and including the Saturday before the First Sun. day of Lent. In the calendar of the fixed feasts, this part extends from November 26 to March 12.
2) The spring volume (pars verna) containing the Offices of Lent and Paschaltide to the Saturday of the Pentecost Ember Week, inclusive. In the fixed calendar, this period begins with February 7 and lasts to June 19.
3) The summer volume (pars aestiva) with the time after Pentecost up to the Fifteenth Sunday, inclusive. For the fixed feasts, this section runs from May 18 to September 2.
4) The autumn volume (pars autumnalis) covering the year from the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost till the day before Advent, August 28 to December 2 of the fixed calendar."

This 1647 volume is then, the third volume (Pars Aestiva) of a 4 volume set, the set I think must be quite rare. However by chance, I found an old auction record describing an identical printing which coincidentally was bound in a decorated binding.

BREVIARIUM ROMANUM, ex decreto sacrosancti Concilii tridentini restitutum. Paris, Typographia regia, 1647. 4 volumes in-8, maroquin rouge, encadrement à la Du Seuil, dos orné, tranches dorées (Rel. de l'époque).

TRES BELLE EDITION ILLUSTREE SORTIE DES PRESSES ROYALES, imprimée en quatre parties saisonnières, luxueusement tirées en rouge et en noir, et ornées de gravures sur cuivre dans le texte : un frontispice par C. Errard gravé par G. Rousselet répété quatre fois, de jolies gravures à pleine page gravées d'après Errard le plus souvent par Rousselet mais aussi par K. Audran, Daret, et de nombreux jolis bandeaux, culs-de-lampes et lettrines.


roughly translated...

BREVIARIUM ROMANUM, ex decreto sacrosancti Concilii tridentini restitutum. Printed in Paris, regia, 1647. 4 volumes in-8, red morocco, Decorative binding à la Du Seuil, decorated spine, gilded page edges (Contemporary Binding).

VERY BEAUTIFUL ILLUSTRATED EDITION FROM THE ROYAL PRESSES, printed in four parts seasonal, luxuriously printed in red and black, and decorated with engraved head and tail pieces: a frontispiece by C. Errard engraved by G. Rousselet repeated four times, seven full page engravings designed by Errard and executed by Rousselet but also by K. Audran, Daret...., many decorated head pieces, cul-de-lampes and lettrines.


click on this image to see a full description of this binding

I have made a study of this binding on the previous pages, here we are going to explore the inside of this book. The first important fact we discover in this description is that this printing is from "the Royal Presses", a Google search of E Typographia Regis brought me to this remarkable web site

Rare Books & Special Collections: An Online Exhibition 1474-1900

From The Rare Books Collection at Belmont Abbey College

here are some important details from their introduction to the Seventeen Century page...

"All across Europe, the seventeenth century was marked by a lowering of standards in everyday printing, for reasons which were partly political and partly economic. The very institutions that had fostered printing in its early days-- both Church and State-- now feared and restricted it. Typographic design was almost at a standstill, presswork was sometimes haphazard, and paper of poorer quality. Literary works by authors today considered to be the most brilliant of the period-- Shakespeare, Milton, Racine, Moliere, Cervantes-- were seldom printed in a worthy manner, if at all. Examples of lowered standards in the quality of printing can be seen in Belmont Abbey copies from editions of Isocrates, Preston, Juvenal, Lucretius, and Lenti listed below. The major exceptions to this decline continued to be in the printing of religious texts, special editions produced on behalf of royalty, and by family printers such as Elzivir and Plantin, also represented on this page. However, in the 1640's steps were taken in Paris leading to a revival in printing standards by Richelieu's establishment of the Imprimerie Royale, or French royal printing-office, which produced the books by Sidonius and Talon exhibited on this page. Under the leadership of Sebastien Cramoisy, this press set a new standard of typographic excellence, and French influence was to steadily increase into the following century."

and on this page.....

Nicolas Talon. L'Histoire Sainte. Imprimerie Royale, pr. 1669.

"In the mid-seventeenth century Louis XIII and his prime minister, Cardinal Richelieu, shared a strong personal interest in typography and printing. Louis had actually set type and Richelieu had himself produced several small books on a private press in his chateaux. Having rebuilt the Sorbonne and founded the Academie Francaise, Richelieu persuaded Louis to establish a royal printing-office at the Louvre. Called the Imprimerie Royale, or Typographia Regia, the office was directed by the expert printer Sebastien Cramoisy. From its first edition in 1640, it became the premier printing office in seventeenth century Europe to sustain the tradition of fine bookmaking."

click on this image to see an enlargement

Turning now to the fine engravings in this book....

Breviarium Romanum 1647

Breviarium Romanum 1647

Searching the internet for C. Errard I found this interesting site La Tribune de l'Art where you can find a page that is loaded with the paintings and art of Charles Errard, a Master Artist of no small proportion. As well as this page on Gilles Rousselet which is a review of a new book by Véronique Meyer L'œuvre gravé de Gilles Rousselet, graveur parisien du XVIIe siècle here you will find more examples of Rousselet's work, below I have attempted to translate the first part of this page.

Breviarium Romanum 1647

Breviarium Romanum 1647

Breviarium Romanum 1647

Gilles Rousselet (1610-1686)

Perhaps born in 1610, son of a Parisian bookseller, Gilles Rousselet began his training chez Pierre Firens (about 1580-1638), one of the most important Flemish engravers and editors at the beginning of the Seventeenth Century. It is thought that Rousselet may also have been a pupil of Alexandre Boudan (about 1600-1671) with whom he published in 1634 his first dated print, Flagellation du Christ (ill. 1) after a composition by François Perrier (1590-1650), dedicated to Michel Le Tellier, prosecutor of the King. During these first years, he learned the art of engraving and etching in the style of Jacques Callot and became successful working with well known artists like Jerome David (c. 1605 -1670), Karl Audran (1594-1674) and Abraham Bosse (1602-1676). Up until 1637, Rousselet made engravings primarily from painted works, after this he worked almost exclusively from the drawings of the Lyonnais artist Gregoire Huret (1606-1670) and of the painter Claude Vignon (1593-1670).
The following decade sees a diversification of his repertory. He turns to the Italian school, renewed by Agostino Carracci, studies the work of its follower Francesco Villamena (about 1566-1624), and adopts for a time the single format of Claude Mellan. In spite of the quality of his work, Rousselet runs up against the limits imposed by this format and little by little adopts a more suitable size. In the years which follow, he works on many religious figures, and several allegories of the seasons after the drawings of Claude Vignon and Charles Le Brun (1619-1690). According to Pierre Mariette, the friendship between Charles Le Brun and Gilles Rousselet goes back to 1637. Their meeting appeared decisive for the two men. Not only Rousselet is one of the first to engrave the compositions of the young painter, but was throughout his life his favorite interpreter of his work. Of the 400 prints allotted to Rousselet, a little more than one hundred, or about one quarter of his work, is modeled directly from the art of Le Brun. It should also be recognized that it is by interpreting the compositions of Le Brun, Master painter for the King, that Rousselet did some of his best work: his engraving is then clearer, simpler, more direct and more solid.
From 1641-1642, he made his mark with portraits like those of the chancellor Pierre Séguier (1588-1672) and of the adviser of State Denis Talon (ill. 2) (1628-1698). In 1642, now well recognized for his talents, he joins Karl Audran and Abraham Bosse in the new Royal Printing works of Louvre created two years earlier. Until 1647, he was working from the compositions of Jacques Stella (1596-1657), in particular the vignettes of Biblia Sacra and the frontispiece of the Exercices spirituels of Ignace de Loyola.

....this takes us up to his work here in the Breviarium, however if you read the rest of the article you will learn that this was just the beginning of Rousellet's carrier which continued on for almost another 40 years in which time he became Adviser to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, the highest function to which an engraver can aspire. Late in the 60's he was promoted to a post as Royal Engraver and after produced for the Cabinet of the King some of his most famous work.

Charles Audran (1594-1674)

Next on the List is K. Audran who is also known as Charles Audran, his name figures on the plate below.

Engraving by Karle .Audran

K. Audran signature

CHARLES (or Karle), born in Paris, 1594; died 1674, was the elder of two brothers, some say cousins (the other being Claude the First), who attained reputation as engravers. Charles, who reached by far the greater eminence, after receiving some instruction in drawing, went as a young man to Rome to study further the engraver's art, and while there produced some plates which attracted attention. He engraved in pure line, and took the work of Cornelius Bloemart, with whom he studied, as his model. On his return from Italy the engraver lived for some years in Lyons before settling in Paris. Among his two hundred or more plates are several original portraits, including one of Henry II, Prince of Condé, and reproductions of works by Titian, the Caracci, Domenichino, Palma the Younger, Albano and Lesueur.

Daret, Pierre (Paris, 1604 - Landes, 1678)

Breviarium Romanum 1647

Daret signature

Breviarium Romanum 1647

Pierre Daret: A talented seventeenth century painter and engraver, Pierre Daret first studied in Paris and then completed his training in Rome. Daret began and finished his career as a portrait painter. The bulk of his working life, however, was devoted to engraving and etching. His oeuvre in these mediums consists of over four hundred plates, mostly portraits. His success in this field was surely considerable as he was commissioned to engrave the likenesses as the King of England, the Royal Family of Poland and the Pope. Daret was received into the Royal French Academy as a full member in 1663.

During the 1660's Pierre Daret lived and worked in Italy on several occasions engraving the art of Italian Renaissance painters and contemporary Italian artists. Lorenzo Pasinelli (1629-1700) was known throughout Italy as a painter of both historical and religious themes. (Biographical details from

Finally we come this reference entitled:

L'illustration des livres publiés par l'Imprimerie Royale au xvii em siècle
(The Illustration of books published by the Imprimerie Royale in the Sixteenth Century)

here is an approximate translation of this conference report ....

"Part of the conference was devoted to the works published by the presses of the Royal Printing works and illustrated by Abraham Bosse who was invited to work there in 1640. He engraved initially, the designs of Jacques Stella for the New Testament in Latin, the frontispiece of which was engraved by Pierre Daret after a design by Simon Vouet. Then he worked on the gray letters of the four volume la Biblia Sacra of 1642 which has a frontispiece, drawn by Poussin, and engraved by Mellan. Bosse collaborated in three other works published in 1642, the Comediae of Térence and both editions of the book of hours composed by Louis XIII one in quarto, the other in 16, for which Stella had provided the drawings. In 1644 he engraved seven boards for the Exercitia spiritualia of Saint Ignace de Loyola and fourteen boards for the edition of Suétone after designs by the same painter. It was from the drawings of Charles Errard that Bosse engraved twenty-two head and tail pieced for the Breviarium romanum printed in 1647."

 Audran head piece, click on image to enlarge

What more need be said about this rare Breviarium par excellence, printed by the Royal Presses and adorned with the art of some of the best. Is it any wonder then, that we find it bound in an extraordinary binding....

click on this image for more details about this binding

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