A Parisian Binding for the "English Grolier"
Jean Calvin (1509–1564).
Brieve instruction... contre les erreurs de la secte commune des anabaptistes.
Geneva: Jehan Girard, 1545.
[Bound with:] Jean Calvin.
Contre la secte phantastique et furieuse des Libertins, qui se nomment spirituelz.
Geneva: Jehan Girard, 1545. (19514)
One of the signature styles of Renaissance bookbinding is closely associated with the outstanding French collector Jean Grolier (1479–1565). This elaborate style consists of narrow interlacing strapwork that is gilded and painted or enameled so as to stand in contrast to the background leather. Closely related to bindings made for Grolier, this calfskin binding belongs to a group of similar strapwork bindings that all feature the gold-tooled date “1552” at the centers of the covers.
The “1552” bindings were produced in a Parisian atelier that bound books for Thomas Wotton (1521–1587) of Kent, who has been called the “English Grolier.” The first Englishman to assemble a library of gold-tooled bindings, Wotton appears to have traveled to France several times by 1552, where he evidently was inspired by Grolier’s library. His own library, from which at least 140 books survive, suggests that he was well-read in the Classics and theology in Latin and French, with special interest in works by the Swiss Reformer Jean Calvin.