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Creator:
Ferrières, Henri de, fl. 1377.
Title:
Le livre du Roy Modus et de la Royne Racio.
Alternate Title(s):
Livres du roy Modus et de la royne Ratio
Published/Created:
circa 1420.
Physical Description:
1 v. (p. 20-131) : ill. ; 32 cm.
Holdings:
Rare Books and Manuscripts
SK25.F47 L58 1420+ Oversize
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Information
Classification:
Archives & Manuscripts
Notes:
The Le livre du Roy Modus et de la Royne Racio, attributed to Henri de Ferrières, is one of the most important medieval works on sport; it was used by all subsequent English and continental writers on the chase. Composed between 1354 and 1376, the full text of the work is divided into two parts: the first deals with the chase, and the second is an allegorical discussion of the animals of the hunt. It includes explicit directions for hunting all sorts of game animals, as well as chapters on falconry and bird snaring. The work is in the form of a dialogue in which Roy Modus (King Method) replies to questions about hunting from his apprentices. He divides prey into two groups, according to certain criteria. Five animals are classified as sweet (douce) and four as stinking (puant). The sweet ones--the stag, the hind, the fallow and roe deer, and the hare--do not have a foul odor, their pelts have a pleasing (amiable) color, either blond or tawny, and they do not bite. The four stinking animals bite; they include the boar, the wolf, the fox, and the otter.
Manuscript copy of Le livre du Roy Modus et de la Royne Racio, on vellum, copied circa 1420. The text is incomplete, with portions missing at the beginning and end (noted in detail below). Writing is pen and brown ink, two columns per page, in the hand of an early 15th-century scribe. The manuscript includes 134 watercolor illustrations throughout the text, together with ornamental initials.
The present copy comprises about two-thirds of the complete Livre du Roy Modus text, with large sections missing at the beginning and end. The manuscript begins on page 20, in mid-sentence, with "congnoistre," near the end of the chapter headed (in other versions) "Cy devise comme on doit courre les cerfs." The present manuscript also ends abruptly on page 131, with the word "premierement", near the end of the chapter headed "Cy devise comment on doit affetier esprevier et comment ils doivent estre mis en arroy." The text present (between pages 20 and 131) appears to be complete. See Podeschi for a full accounting; his conjecture is based on the text established by Elzéar Blaze from manuscripts of the work at the Bibliothèque Royale.
The 34 watercolor and gouache drawings (over pen and black ink) depict the hunting of deer, hare, boar, and birds by means of hounds, bows, traps, snares, and falcons. Most of the illustrations span two columns of text. The illustrations are invaluable as sources of information on the manners, customs, and costumes of the chase of the period. There are numerous, small, ornamental initial letters, all executed in blue, violet-pink, and gold.
Selected exhibitions: "Paul Mellon's Legacy: A Passion for British Art" (Yale Center for British Art, 18 April-29 July, 2007); "'The Compleat Horseman: Sporting Books from the Bequest of Paul Mellon" (Yale Center for British Art, 17 February-29 April, 2001).
Podeschi, J.B. Horse and horsemanship, 1
Provenance: Chrétien-François de Lamoignon (with his crowned cipher ink stamp on page 24); Evelyn Philip Shirley; A.S.W. Rosenbach/John F. Fleming; Paul Mellon.
Bound in modern gilt- and blind-tooled red morocco, by Riviere & Son, London.
Exhibition History:
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Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

Subject Terms:
Falconry -- Early works to 1800.
Fowling -- Early works to 1800.
Hunting -- Early works to 1800.
Lamoignon, Chrétien-François de, 1735-1789 -- Provenance.
Riviere & Son -- Bookbinder.
Shirley, Evelyn Philip, 1812-1882 -- Provenance.
Form/Genre:
Dialogues.
Miniatures (Paintings)
Watercolors.
Illuminations.
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