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RUFFIN, Claude

[Heures de la Vierge]. Officium Beatae Mariae ex decreto sacrosancti Concilii restitutum, et Claudii Ruffini cantoris regii manu exaratum, anno domini millesimo sexentesimo tertio, regna[n]te Henrico 4 Fra[nciae] et Na[varre] R[ege]

Paris, 1603





8vo (165 x 100mm)

Text in Latin and French.
24 lines to the page including the running titles written in beautiful Roman miniature in black ink, the running titles and paragraph titles are written in red ink, the endlines are made up of illuminated friezes, the Prières chrestiennes at the back are written in a slightly larger character
COLLATION : 23 unnumbered leaves, not counting the first two blank leaves, 139 leaves foliated 1-139 [24r-161r, the pagination jumps without any missing text or drawing from folio 121 to folio 123], in all 161 leaves of text and drawings, the first two and the last two leaves are blank, each leaf (including the blank leaves) has an illuminated border and is painted in blue
CONTENTS : [1r] : title, [2r-14v] : Calendrier, [15r] : extract of the start of the Gospel according to John, [17v] : extract of the beginning of the Gospel according to Luke, [19r] : extract of the start of the Gospel according to Matthew, [20v] : extract of the start of the Gospel according to Mark, [21v] : Apostles Creed and other short prayers, [24v] : matins of the Office of the Virgin, [37v] : Lauds, [47r] paginated 23 : “Primes”, [50r] paginated 26 : Third, [52r] paginated 28 : Sext, [56r] paginated 32 : “None [57r] : Vespers, [62v] : Compline, [65v] ; seven penitential psalms, [73v] : litanies, [78r] paginated 56 : Paraphrases, [80v] : psalm, [81r] paginated 59 : Prières chrétiennes, [82r] paginated 60 : Office of the Holy Cross, [87r] paginated 65 : Office of the Holy Spirit [90v] : Suffrage of Saints, [96v] : preparatory prayer of confession, [99v] : post-communion prayer, [101v] : prayer to the Virgin Mary, [103r] paginated 81 : Prières chrétiennes et oraison, [128r] paginated 106 : psalms, [129v] : Sunday Vespers, [156v] : Sabbatho ad complemetorum, [159v] Prières chrétiennes

ORNEMENTATION : many initials high by one, two or three lines, all illuminated or painted in red or blue, alternatively on illuminated background or painted red or blue with small painted ornaments


1. Title page in a border engraved by I. Messager after Léonard Gaultier representing Saint Paul and Saint Peter surmounted by a representation of the Annunciation, in the center : the title was calligraphed by Claude Ruffin which mentions his name at the bottom of the title page, a cartouche was arranged into the engraving and arms of Henri IV (France and Navarre) were painted and illuminated

2. The Calendrier : 12 copper engravings printed at half-page by Léonard Gaultier or Carl de Mallery after Jean Messager (not signed) representing the 12 months of the year, ENTIRELY ILLUMINATED AND CONTEMPORARILY COLORED BY CLAUDE RUFFIN

3. The Offices de la Vierge : 17 engravings printed on full page by Léonard Gaultier (LeBlanc II, 273) or Carl de Mallery (LeBlanc II, 592) after Jean Messager, certain are signed (6) by one or two names, the plate of the vision of King David is repeated at the end of the book. THESE 17 PLATES WERE CONTEMPORARILY AND FULLY ILLUMINATED AND COLORED BY CLAUDE RUFFIN, IN ALL 29 ILLUMINATED ILLUSTRATIONS

4. The Prières chrestiennes : 4 new engravings in grisaille and bistre, one signed by Messager and Gaultier

TOTAL OF THE ILLUSTRATIONS : one title page, 12 half page engravings, 17 full page entirely illuminated, 4 full page in grisaille or bistre

END OF 17TH CENTURY BINDING ATTRIBUTED TO BOYET. Blue morocco, gilt decor, border executed ENTIRELY WITH SMALL TOOLS, gilt spine, doublures in olive morocco with a small tool border

PROVENANCE : cat. Fontaine, 1875 -- Damascène Morgand (Bulletin Morgand, 1878, n° 2284, p. 367) -- Baron Jérôme Pichon (bookplate and sale ; cat. 1897-1898, n° 72) -- Baron Vitta – Henri Burton

Claude Ruffin (1554-1636) was a cantor at the Notre-Dame de Paris and a calligrapher known to have written several high quality liturgical books. The Missel à l’usage de Paris of 1634, preserved at the Arsenal, bears a note at the end stipulating that he is eighty years old (which would make his year of birth 1554) and that he had been in the service of the Eglise de Paris for seventy-two years. He therefore entered in 1562 at the age of eight, probably as a choirboy. Claude Ruffin was then identified in 1575 as spe [i.e. : the oldest] of the choirboys at the Cathedral Notre-Dame of Paris. In 1576, Cardinal de Guise noticed his voice and asked the chapter if they could attach him to his chapel. The chapter refused ; the Cardinal then organized a kidnapping, which failed. He later became a priest. Prior to 1610, his qualities as cantor of Notre-Dame de Paris earned him a canonry at the chapter of Saint-Aignan. In 1636 he was a beneficiary of Notre-Dame de Paris. Nothing more is known of him after this date.

In addition to his jobs as cantor and priest, during an important period of his life Ruffin had executed some manuscripts which were sometimes excellent and sometimes naïve, but with sufficient talent in any case to be noticed and for him to be entrusted with important work. His manuscripts regularly show initial letters and borders in gouache and gilt with multiple fillets and occasionally full or half-page gouaches. He sometimes signed with his anagram "Icy nul fraude".

Including this one, Baron Portalis inventories just three of Ruffin's manuscripts. Today only eight are known of, including this one. It is incontestably Claude Ruffin's masterpiece, the oldest and only significant copy with illustrations that is still preserved in private hands :

1. 1603 : Officium Beatae Mariae… This manuscript, which is therefore the oldest.
2. 1610 : Prières à l’usage de la Royne. For sale in September 2013, on Ebay. Prov. Louis Jamet jeune, 1748. Rather coarse and without illustrations.
3. 1610 : Lectionnaire festif de l'office à l'usage de Notre-Dame de Paris. Bibliothèque Mazarine (Ms 402). It has no illustrations.
4. 1631 : Livre de prières, en latin et en français, écrit par Claude Ruffin, 1631, with some initials in color on a gold background and four miniatures : Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal (Ms. 571). From the collections of the Marquis de Paulmy.
5. 1634 : Missel à l’usage de Paris. With 8 miniatures. Frames and initials in gold and in color. Binding in red morocco with a semé of fleurs de lys. Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal (Ms. 202), cited by Portalis
6. 1636 : Preparatio ad missam. With a full-page gouache in a naive finish and initial letters in color. Paris Bibliothèque Sainte Geneviève (Ms 2724), visible on the Virtual Library of Medieval Manuscripts (Bibliothèque virtuelle des manuscrits médiévaux (BVMM) du CNRS/)
7. Undated : Illuminated manuscript written on vellum, made up of texts taken from four Gospels. 36 f. written in black and red ink, with just one gouache in frontispiece, 25 large initial letters and 10 small initial letters with rinceaux on gold background. For sale in 2003.
8. Missel de Noyon dit Missel d’Ourscamp known as the Tournai manuscript with reuse of four 14th century miniatures and 5 17th century engravings from Flemish workshops. Gold, red and blue frame on every page, initials decorated in gold and color. Tournai : Archives and Bibliothèque de la Cathédrale : manuscript A14B. A gift from Napoléon Ist to the Bishop of Tournai.

Claude Ruffin represents one of the first great milestones in the history of French manuscripts of the 17th century. But his connection to the music sung at Notre-Dame de Paris gives his works a particular tone that we find here in the extreme vivacity of the colors and the richness of the illuminations.

REFERENCES : one of three manuscripts by Claude Ruffin cited by Baron Roger Portalis, Nicolas Jarry et la calligraphie au XVIIe siècle, in Bulletin du Bibliophile, 1896 et 1897, p. 133 -- F.-L. Chartier, L'ancien chapitre de Notre-Dame de Paris et sa maîtrise d'après les documents capitulaires (1326-1790), Paris, 1897, repr. Genève, Minkoff, 1971 - Isabelle Handy, Musiciens au temps des derniers Valois (1547-1589). Paris, 2008 -- Craig M. Wright. Music and ceremony at Notre Dame of Paris, 500-1550. Cambridge, 1989 -- Max Schmitz. Le missel de Noyon dit "missel d'Ourscamp" des Archives et Bibliothèque de la Cathédrale de Tournai (B.C.T., manuscrit A14B) : examen codicologique, contenu et propriétaires successifs, in Archives et manuscrits précieux tournaisiens 2 (2008), p. 37-54