Bindings in the Spotlight (6)

Suidas Graece, VI.18.25, upper cover

Jean Grolier (c.1489-1565), originally from Lyons, is remembered today as a bibliophile who put together an extensive collection of books with specially commissioned fine bindings. Most of his books were printed in Italy (often Venice) or Basle and the bindings were usually from Milanese and Parisian workshops.

This Milanese binding in morocco, decorated with medallions or plaquettes, was an early 16th century addition to Grolier’s collection. Plaquettes are impressions made in relief. The stamps are produced by casting in a mould from a wax model. The first plaquettes were produced in Italy from the mid-15th century and were used for decorating presentation book bindings, but also for larger items such as furniture.

Grolier was the first to apply plaquettes to book bindings for a private library and his collection contains some of the best examples of this form of decoration. Grolier’s books were also the first to be decorated by medallions made by contemporary artists. The upper cover has Abundance and a Satyr by Fra Antonio da Brescia (1487-1513) and the lower cover has The Judgement of Paris by the artist signing Io.F.F. The plaquettes retain some of their original colouring and are surrounded by a tooled, gilt lozenge.

The volume was given to the Trinity Library in memory of alumnus and manuscript collector, Henry Yates Thompson (1838-1928).

Suidas Graece, VI.18.25, lower cover

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