“Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne” is a French manuscript from the 15th century, now in the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris . Anne of Brittany (1477–1514) was marreid by proxy to Maximilian I of Austria in 1490, but within a decade married a second and third time . The initials “L” and “A” on folio 238r suggest that this Book of Houres was made around her third marriage to Louis XII in 1498.
This document is richly illuminated with plants and several animals, among which some turles and a few apes. Particular focus is on plants as their names are given above or beneath the borders in which they are illuminated. And, yes, in the context of this blog also several snails can be found. Although most snails seem relatively detailed or even naturalistically painted, on closer look some are clearly not, e.g. by their unnatural colour pattern. However, one key illustration may be folio 156r, where grapes are illustrated. The snail present on them is likely Cornu aspersum (Müller, 1774). If this is true, one may compare this figure to a realistic image of this species and deduce how the illuminations have been abstracted. Despite this one has to conclude that the species in this manuscript generally cannot be identified other than being ‘Helix-like’. See otherwise the comments below.
Most pictures have been found on the BNF-Mandragore site, but three were additionally found when checking the manuscript page by page.
Folio 010v shows a Helix-like snail seen from above, casting its shadows. The dextral shell seems turrited (the dimensional shape is probably not very well hit here), the animal showing three of its tentacles.
Folio 011v shows a similar shell alone from the same perspective.
In the upper margin of folio 015r, a hybrid is present with a stylised dextral shell and the frontal part of a goat.
Flolio 017v has one in the lower part of the border. It has a dextral shell with a wide aperture, partly concealed by a leaf of a daffodil, the animal with two tentacles.
On folio 025r the animal—which is drawn in detail, see the middle stripe on the neck—seems to be somewhat shifted from to the left of the shell. Perhaps did the artist painted the shell after an empty specimen and later added the animal?
A similar animal, but somewhat more greyish, is used on folio 025v partly hidden by one of the leaves of an Iris.
In the lower left corner of folio 027r asnail is seen with spiral bands. This may have been modeled after a pink-banded morph of Cepaea.
Folio 031v shows two snails, both in ‘2D squashed mode’. One shell is pinkish and seen from the top; the apertural ornamentation is fictuous. The other shell is seen from below and showing a spiral banded pattern. Both may be Cepaea-like.
A curious snail is seen on folio 035r. While the snail is directed to the left, the dextral shell seems to have been put in independently. This may suggest that shells and animals have been drawn independently and likely not at the same time from a living specimen.
Folio 038r shows a snail with the shell seemingly sculptured with rather coarse knobs, giving a rugose impression. While this is a characteristic found in some (mainly marine) species, my assumption is this was not drawn after nature. Another possibility is that the artist tried to show light reflections on the shell.
Folio 039r shows a snail in ‘2D squashed mode’ seen from the umbilical side and with spiral bands in the colour pattern. Possibly a Cepaea-like specimen.
On folio 043v a snail is seen from behind, but partly concealed by the stem of the plant. This specimen could be a Cornu-like, with all four tentacles shown.
A similar snail, the animal shifted too far to the left of the shell, is seen on folio 044v.
Folio 046v has a dextral specimen, also too rugose to my taste (see f. 038f above).
An impossible snail… The shell is sinistral and looks somehow dropped on the animal. Folio 052r.
Folio 054v: a mother/father (land snails are mostly hermaphroditic) with babies. A silent hint to the Queen to produce off-spring? She had several childs that prematurely died .
On folio 056r two snails team up together, one dextral and one sinistral; the last one seems to have been drawn mainly for symmetrical purposes or the shell was deformed.
Folio 065r has a dextral specimen (Helix-like?).
A dark-coloured snail with a remarkable curve in the apertural lip is seen on folio 067r.
Folio 081r shows a similar snail, but with the shell is an unnatural bluish colour. More blue-shelled ones to follow…
Folio 083v gives a ‘2D squashed’ view with the umbilicus shown and axial bands in the greyish colour pattern. Given the size, this might have been drawn after a Cepaea-like specimen (however, in which no axial colour pattern is known).
A similar snail is on folio 086r, now in a yellowish tint.
Folio 095r shows another unnaturally blue-shelled snail.
Folio 101v shows a snail with a purple shell (equally unnatural), the coiling is sinistral.
Another axial-banded shell with a snail in an unusual shape, resembling a sea-horse (folio 104v).
Folio 112v has a partly obscured snail in oblique view from behind with a greyish shell.
Given the colour pattern (yellow with one dark spiral band), this is likely a Cepaea species on folio 114v. The shell, however, is sinistral.
Folio 120r presents a Helix-like shell with a greyish shell, partly blue (to indicate shadow from the leaves above?).
A similar snail is shown on folio 130v in an oblique rear view (cf. f. 095r).
Folio 135r: a snail is looking to the reader, its reddish shell being rather elongated; either drawn too abstracted or an imaginary species.
A similar snail, but blue-shelled is on folio 140v.
Folio 144r gives an oblique view of what might suggest a Cepaea specimen.
A rear view from a partly obscured snail, viewed from behind, on folio 144v.
Another blue-shelled snail on folio 147r.
Folio 147v shows a shell only. A dextral specimen, the colour pattern is too abstracted.
Folio 148r has a similar snail as f. 147r.
Folio 150r has a ‘mother and childs’, with a very large aperture. Cf. f.054v.
Folio 152v gives yet another snail comparable to folios 148r and 147r.
Folio 156r shows a dextral species on graves. This might represent Cornu aspersum (Müller, 1774) if one assumes it has been somewhat abstracted, especially in the colour pattern and the overemphasis on axial lines.
A reddish-brown shell is carried by this snail on folio 158r, but the coiling is sinistral.
Folio 160v shows a shell only, rather elongated and giving the impression of axially ribbed. Perhaps a marine specimen?
One of the babies from f. 150r enlarged? It is on folio 161r.
Folio 166r has a ‘2D squashed’ view of a snail. Difficult to say if it supposed to be seen from below (then it would be dextral) or in top view (then sinistral).
Folio 176r has a snail likely modelled after Cornu. Remark the sculpture on the shell. Cf. f. 044v.
On folio 184r a snail very similar to the previous one is seen.
Folio 198r shows a variation in position of snails similar as seen in ff. 104v and 144r.
On folio 202r a dextral specimen, possibly a Cornu-like.
Folio 213r: A similar snail as on ff. 176r and 184r, now shown in a different view.
A shell only (cf. f. 160v) is shown on folio 220r.
Folio 223v has a snail in ‘2D squashed’ view; cf. ff. 039r, 084v.
Folio 224r: a blue-shelled specimen, similar to ff. 135r and 140v.
A different colour variation of the previous one can be found on folio 229r.
Finally, on folio 232v, a blue-shelled snail is seen. The tail in this specimen is missing.
All snails in this manuscript are shown on the bottom side of the borders. While several seem to be variations on the same theme, the snails are relatively detailed. This is one of the few medieval manuscripts seen so far, where an ‘educated guess’ may suggest that garden snails were used as models.