BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin and French, use of Paris, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[northern France, probably Paris, c.1500]
170 x 112mm. iii + 211 (including blank) + i leaves (first and final leaves former pastedowns), modern foliation omitting 1 leaf between ff.19 and 21 but followed here, gatherings mostly in eights but later stitching obscuring collation, 15 lines written in black/brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 16 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 86 x 52mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one-line initials of burnished gold on grounds and infills of blue and dark pink with white decoration, similar line-endings, two- and four-line initials in blue on burnished gold grounds with ivy-leaf infills in red and blue, two panel borders of blue and gold acanthus and sprays of naturalistic flowers and hairline tendrils, one on divided grounds of liquid gold, the other with accompanying bar border of burnished gold decorated with flowers, one three-quarter border of gold acanthus and grey shells on divided grounds of red and blue, TEN LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES WITH FULL-PAGE BORDERS of similar decoration, four on divided grounds of liquid gold and unpainted vellum, five on grounds of continuous gold and one on a ground of unpainted vellum with bar border of burnished gold, some inhabited with game birds (probably lacking 8 leaves with miniatures, 5 leaves with miniatures cut out to margin edge and reinserted with margins restored to size, repaired tear to f.82 affecting border, small areas of pigment loss or creasing affecting most miniatures, notably the Annunciation, David praying and Job, lion's face rubbed on f.19, occasional smudging). Mid-19th-century French citron morocco tooled in gilt signed 'Behrends', the covers with applied panels with fleur-de-lis and foliated decoration surrounding central ?'WCTH' monogram, applied metal corner bosses, spine in compartments with red morocco lettering pieces and fleur-de-lis, gilt turn-ins, green watered silk liners (joints rubbed, some spots).
1. The use of the Offices of the Virgin and of the Dead, and the style of the illumination suggest that this Hours was made in Paris. The majority of the saints in the calendar and litany accord with Paris use and also include saints venerated in the north of France.
2. Numerous records in a 16th-century hand have been added to the opening blank leaves, first Calendar leaf and continue on the final pastedown. They record the baptisms, marriages and burials within the De La Grange family at the 'eglise de Notre Dame de Semur' from March 1576 (when, the owner records, 'ces presentes heures' was given to him by his mother) until 1606. Many family members are referred to as 'advocat' and each entry is signed 'Grangianus' and endorsed with a notary's sign. La Croix du Maine (1584) records an author Jean de la Grange, called 'Grangianus', native of Semur (Burgundy) and lawyer at the Parlement de Paris; descendants from the same family were 'Maîtres des Comptes de Dijon et conseillers au Parlement de Dijon'.
3. The manuscript was in the possession of a book dealer in Dijon in 1740 (inscription on flyleaf, attributing the 16th-century inscriptions 'aux lagranges de Seurres').
4. Henry Hucks Gibbs, 1st Lord Aldenham (1819-1907), Governor of the Bank of England and bibliophile -- the presence of a note recording ownership by Baron Aldenham was recorded in 1987 by Ferrini, see below; the present manuscript was not listed in the revised Catalogue of the Aldenham library (1914) or sold in the subsequent sales of the library at Sotheby's in 1937.
5. The 'WCTH' monogram on the mid-19th century binding is unidentified, but also appears on two bindings in the Folger Library (Folger STC 12721, copy 3; STC 23956).
6. George's Sons, Park Street, Bristol, purchaser's inscription on fly leaf dated 1890.
7. Bruce Ferrini, Catalogue One (1987), no. 68.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel extracts (lacking opening) ff.13-21; Obsecro te ff.21v-26; O intemerata ff.27-32; prayer to be said before receiving communion ff.32-32v; prayer to be said after communion f.32v; Mass of the Virgin ff.33-39; prayers in French, 'les x commandemens de la loy' and 'les cinq commandemens de saincte eglise' ff.39v-40v; Hours of the Virgin, ff.41-116v: matins f.41, lauds (lacking opening) f.70, prime f.82, terce (lacking opening) f.89, sext (lacking opening and end) f.94, none (lacking opening) f.98, vespers (lacking opening) f.103, compline (lacking opening) f.111; Hours of the Cross (lacking matins) ff.117-125; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.125v-133; (blank folio); Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.134-155v; Office of the Dead ff.146-211.
The miniatures appear to be the work of Jean Pichore, one of the leading illuminators active in Paris from 1502 to 1520. His documented works were owned by some of the greatest patrons of the day: the luxurious manuscript Chants royaux commissioned by Amiens for Louise of Savoy, mother of Francois I (BnF ms fr.145), and the first volume of De civitate Dei, painted between 1501 and 1503 for Cardinal Georges d'Amboise (BnF ms lat.2070). Pichore headed a thriving workshop and the present Hours bears the hallmarks of his style, with its figure types and marbled floors, and lavish use of gold to embellish draperies and highlight the detailed architectural features. The quality of illumination however, executed with particular finesse and delicacy, is most probably the work of the master himself. Ten miniatures remain from what must have been a lavish commission of exceptional quality. They offer fine examples of Pichore's style and craftmanship, seen particularly in the delicately finished faces, with small brushes of pink on cheeks, and with careful shading and fine penwork used to delineate facial features.
A master known for his skill in both illumination and book design, Pichore's invention continues into the secondary decoration. The shaped grounds and intricate ornament of the lively, inhabited borders are similar to those found in ONB cod.1927.
See C. Zöhl, Jean Pichore, Buchmaler, Graphiker und Verleger in Paris um 1500, 2004).
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.14v St Luke sitting at a table, writing, with ox
f.16v St Matthew at a table, one hand on an open book, the other placed on a book held by an angel standing before him
f.19 St Mark seated at a lectern, writing, the lion to the right
f.21v Pietà, with instruments of the Passion hanging from the cross above
f.27 Virgin and Child enthroned, with music-making angels
f.134 David praying
f.156 Job on the dunghill