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the boogert platform

An opening essay


A manuscript whose history escapes us...


Among the jewels concealed in the heritage collection of the Méjanes library in Aix-en-Provence, a rare manuscript and until then known only to specialists, has for some years been the subject of in-depth studies.


It is a 17th century Dutch "colour chart", presented very soberly in a parchment binding worn by time, which in no way suggests the treasure it contains. Small (160 × 95 mm), this manuscript signed A. Boogert, produced in Delft in 1692, contains instructions and sample mixtures for colouring drawings and engravings. This is one of the only examples of practical manuals that have come down to us.

Unfortunately, very little is known about its use and history. The wear on the cover and its missing clasps suggest that it circulated from hand to hand, even if the body of the book is in excellent condition.

Chance of the circulation of books, it entered the collections of the municipal library of Aix-en-Provence in 1906, given by Auguste Pécoul. The autograph ex-libris "Ad usum Augusti Pecoul, Moine, 1869" appears on the upper inside cover. If the life of Auguste Pécoul (1837-1916) is well known – he entered as a novice then left the Benedictine abbey of Solesmes three years later, in 1861, archivist-paleographer graduated from the School of Charters in 1865, attached to the French embassy in Madrid, then in Rome, passionate about the history of the Church and Gregorian chant – his practices as a bibliophile are poorly documented. Indeed, he gathered a working library of more than 16,000 volumes, but also, probably during his travels (Italy, Spain, Portugal) rare pieces such as Hebrew scrolls or Ethiopian manuscripts. No trace of the acquisition of these manuscripts (more than a hundred), no more than that of the Nuancier, appears in his correspondence. The only other mention of provenance, on the back of the upper endpaper, seems to date from the 18th century: "Zie mijne Catalogus. N° 62a (Handschr.)" but research has not made it possible to identify the collector behind this note.

Thanks to the work of Erma Hermens, Philippe Walter and their respective teams, the content of this manuscript is now presented to us in a scientific manner, and opens the field to other research.


Aurélie Bosc,

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