~ MISSEL. [France, c. 1900].
Lithographed text, entirely decorated and illuminated by hand in pen, ink and watercolour (jncluding gold), 8vo (pp. [42, plus 2 blank leaves at opening and 3 at rear, with additional decoration by hand. On thick paper, each leaf mounted on paper guards. Contemporary marbled calf, gilt, gilt edges, with slipcase.
An unusual and rather beautiful variant of the lithographed prayerbook illuminated by hand. Such books, printed with broad blank margins could be purchased with a range of more-or-less unique embellishments in manuscript by talented anonymous ecclesiastical artists, usually women. This example is unusual for the range of its decorative motifs, including flowers, insects, stained glass windows, a sailing boat, elephants, a frog and peacocks. It combines consciously medieval imagery (notably a lady with a unicorn) with a delightful fin-de-siècle lightness, with elements of japonisme and art nouveau.
The final full page images include a nativity scene with named bells on the opposing page: Jacques, Marie and Magdelain, perhaps a personalisation for its particular owner, again, almost certainly a woman.