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Christian Works : De consolatione philosophiae (French)

Boethius -524, Regnier de Saint Trudon

Christian Works

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Colard Mansion was a prolific producer of both books and manuscripts, working in Bruges from 1457 to 1484. Little is known of his early life, though he was perhaps a member of the royal court of Philip the Good. This edition of Boethius’s <i>Consolation of Philosophy</i> was his largest project, with layout and design based on contemporary Burgundian manuscripts and intended to attract the eye of the elite bibliophile of the day. The opening of each book had space left for a large illustration, though in most copies this remains blank; through this we are able to see the way the book was designed. The Cambridge copy is decorated beautifully by hand with illustrations based on those in a later edition printed by Arend de Keysere in Ghent in 1485 in Dutch. Scholars suggest that copies of de Keysere’s edition and this copy were probably decorated in the same workshop by a team of miniaturists.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Mansion began printing in around 1475-6 and collaborated with William Caxton while he was working in Bruges, becoming a printer in his own right after Caxton’s return to England. He produced books and manuscripts simultaneously, exploring the possibilities both artistic and commercial offered by the new technology. His surviving output numbers 23 full texts, most of which are extant in only a few copies. He had two fonts and produced two formats of printed book, the medium-sized quarto, and the large and luxurious folio. He left Bruges in 1484, perhaps because of the civil war, and disappeared from the historic record; he may have gone to Lille, as other artists and craftsmen did. Gerard Leeu, another prominent printer of the day, moved from Gouda to Bruges in 1484 to try and fill the gap in the market left by Mansion’s departure, but himself left in the same year and moved to Antwerp.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This book was on display in the exhibition <b>Haute Lecture by Colard Mansion. Innovating text and image in medieval Bruges</b> at the Groeningemuseum, Bruges, from 1 March to 3 June 2018.</p>

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