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“Grandes Heures d’Anne de Bretagne” is a French manuscript from the 15th century, now in the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris [1]. 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 [2]. 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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f003r_

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f010v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f010v_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f011v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f011v_d

Folio 011v shows a similar shell alone from the same perspective.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f015r_

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In the upper margin of folio 015r, a hybrid is present with a stylised dextral shell and the frontal part of a goat.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f017v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f017v_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f025r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f025r_d

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?

BNF_MS Latin9474_f025v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f025v_d

A similar animal, but somewhat more greyish, is used on folio 025v partly hidden by one of the leaves of an Iris.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f027r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f027r_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f031v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f031v_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f035r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f035r_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f038r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f038r_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f039r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f039r_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f043v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f043v_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f044v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f044v_d

A similar snail, the animal shifted too far to the left of the shell, is seen on folio 044v.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f046v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f046v_d

Folio 046v has a dextral specimen, also too rugose to my taste (see f. 038f above).

BNF_MS Latin9474_f052r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f052r_d

An impossible snail… The shell is sinistral and looks somehow dropped on the animal. Folio 052r.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f054v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f054v_d

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 [2].

BNF_MS Latin9474_f056r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f056r_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f065r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f065r_d

Folio 065r has a dextral specimen (Helix-like?).

BNF_MS Latin9474_f067r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f067r_d

A dark-coloured snail with a remarkable curve in the apertural lip is seen on folio 067r.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f081r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f081r_d

Folio 081r shows a similar snail, but with the shell is an unnatural bluish colour. More blue-shelled ones to follow…

BNF_MS Latin9474_f083v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f083v_d

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).

BNF_MS Latin9474_f086r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f086r_d

A similar snail is on folio 086r, now in a yellowish tint.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f095r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f095r_d

Folio 095r shows another unnaturally blue-shelled snail.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f101v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f101v_d

Folio 101v shows a snail with a purple shell (equally unnatural), the coiling is sinistral.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f104v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f104v_d

Another axial-banded shell with a snail in an unusual shape, resembling a sea-horse (folio 104v).

BNF_MS Latin9474_f112v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f112v_d

Folio 112v has a partly obscured snail in oblique view from behind with a greyish shell.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f114v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f114v_d

Given the colour pattern (yellow with one dark spiral band), this is likely a Cepaea species on folio 114v. The shell, however, is sinistral.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f120r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f120r_d

Folio 120r presents a Helix-like shell with a greyish shell, partly blue (to indicate shadow from the leaves above?).

BNF_MS Latin9474_f130v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f130v_d

A similar snail is shown on folio 130v in an oblique rear view (cf. f. 095r).

BNF_MS Latin9474_f135r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f135r_d

Folio 135r: a snail is looking to the reader, its reddish shell being rather elongated; either drawn too abstracted or an imaginary species.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f140v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f140v_d

A similar snail, but blue-shelled is on folio 140v.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f144r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f144r_d

Folio 144r gives an oblique view of what might suggest a Cepaea specimen.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f144v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f144v_d

A rear view from a partly obscured snail, viewed from behind, on folio 144v.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f147r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f147r_d

Another blue-shelled snail on folio 147r.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f147v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f147v_d

Folio 147v shows a shell only. A dextral specimen, the colour pattern is too abstracted.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f148r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f148r_d

Folio 148r has a similar snail as f. 147r.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f150r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f150r_d

Folio 150r has a ‘mother and childs’, with a very large aperture. Cf. f.054v.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f152v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f152v_d

Folio 152v gives yet another snail comparable to folios 148r and 147r.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f156r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f156r_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f158r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f158r_d

A reddish-brown shell is carried by this snail on folio 158r, but the coiling is sinistral.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f160v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f160v_d

Folio 160v shows a shell only, rather elongated and giving the impression of axially ribbed. Perhaps a marine specimen?

BNF_MS Latin9474_f161r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f161r_d

One of the babies from f. 150r enlarged? It is on folio 161r.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f166r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f166r_d

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).

BNF_MS Latin9474_f176r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f176r_d

Folio 176r has a snail likely modelled after Cornu. Remark the sculpture on the shell. Cf. f. 044v.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f184r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f184r_d

On folio 184r a snail very similar to the previous one is seen.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f198r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f198r_d

Folio 198r shows a variation in position of snails similar as seen in ff. 104v and 144r.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f202r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f202r_d

On folio 202r a dextral specimen, possibly a Cornu-like.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f213r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f213r_d

Folio 213r: A similar snail as on ff. 176r and 184r, now shown in a different view.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f220r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f220r_d

A shell only (cf. f. 160v) is shown on folio 220r.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f223v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f223v_d

Folio 223v has a snail in ‘2D squashed’ view; cf. ff. 039r, 084v.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f224r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f224r_d

Folio 224r: a blue-shelled specimen, similar to ff. 135r and 140v.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f229r_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f229r_d

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.

BNF_MS Latin9474_f232v_

BNF_MS Latin9474_f232v_d

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.

[1] BNF, Ms. Latin 9474, 238 ff. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b52500984v.
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_of_Brittany.