Illuminated mediaeval manuscript fetches 4.2 mln euros at French auction
An illuminated mediaeval manuscript known as the Petau Book of Hours has been sold at auction for more than 4.2 million euros, or around six times its asking price, auctioneers Drouot said on Saturday.
The Latin manuscript, dated from around 1495, was sold for 4.29 million euros ($5.0 million) compared with an original estimate of 700,000-900,000 euros, the auction house said.
It contains 16 medallions painted on vellum in shades of gold with highlights attributed to the artist Jean Poyer — who was active between 1490 and 1520 — and an illuminated heraldic composition dating from 17th century added around the first medallion, Drouot said.
It described the prayer book as “a masterpiece of Touraine illumination” that displayed an “extraordinary mastery and prowess of layout.”
It was part of a number of manuscripts and rare volumes being sold from the bankrupted French company Aristophil.
The Petau Book of Hours was commissioned from Jean Poyer by an unidentified patron, but who may been have been a member of the royal circle or a religious dignitary.
Among Poyer’s other clients were Anne of Brittany, who was married to French kings, Charles VIII and then Louis XII.
The manuscript takes its name from the Petau family, its first known owners, who were important collectors of books and manuscripts in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Among its subsequent owners were baron James de Rothschild (1792-1868).