A 400 years old “book of love” auctioned in Brussels

A “book of love” comprising 74 French love songs, aged 400 years old, will be auctioned on October 12th and 13th at the Brussels auction house, Arenberg Auctions.

The well-preserved work had been ordered by a Hainaut lord in 1620. Its value is estimated at between €70,000 and €80,000.

The manuscript has no less than 33 illustrations painted upon vellum and highly detailed, or more than twice a similar example – coming from the collection of the Russian Imperial family – conserved at the Brussels Royal Library. The work contains 74 French love songs, 17 major miniatures on parchment (one on silk), each the size of a page representing love scenes taken from mythology, and 16 animal representations including horses, elephants, lions and monkeys.

The man who wrote the book was Melchior Dassonleville, a descendant of a rich and famous family of lawyers in Hainaut, probably to declare his love for a woman. Henri Godts, a specialist with Arenberg Auctions, explains, “Our manuscript provides a unique look into miniature art of the 17th century in our regions, as well as how members of the nobility and the upper classes expressed their love for one another at that time.”

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