• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7725

    Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts, Including Fine Plate books from an Historic Continental Library

    3 June 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 13

    BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin, use of Bayeux, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON

    Price Realised  

    BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin, use of Bayeux, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON
    VELLUM
    [Bayeux, c.1415 and c.1430-40]
    180 x 130mm. i + 175 + i leaves: 1-26, 3-58, 62 (later addition of 2 + iii, lacking ii), 7-168, 179 (viii an inserted singleton), 18-238, modern foliation (correct from f.57 onwards), prickings
    visible in outer margins, guide words or letters to rubricator in the upper or middle margins of many folios, horizontal catchwords to lower margins on final folios of 16 gatherings, 14 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 15 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 91 x 72mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one- and two-line initials in burnished gold on blue and red grounds patterned in white, similar line-endings, several three- or four-line initials of blue or mauve on grounds of burnished gold with foliate infills and accompanying border sprays of vine-leaves in burnished gold, EIGHTEEN LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS with bars of burnished gold and/or blue and mauve and partial borders of vine-leaves, foliage and flowers in gold, orange, blue and green, some with dragon terminals, EIGHTEEN LARGE MINIATURES, most arch-topped, with accompanying large initials and full-page borders of foliate or patterned baguettes or bars, with scrolling foliage and naturalistic flowerheads linked by hairline tendrils with burnished gold vine-leaf terminals, some interspersed with naturalistic birds, butterflies, or grotesques and an angel, some with large dragon terminals in upper margins, and TWO MINIATURES of 7 lines height, later prickings above miniatures for sewn-in protective curtains, now lacking but some still sewn with remnants of silk (occasional small losses of pigment, visible notably in the Virgin's robe in Annunciation miniature, with slight soiling to initial below and to Crucifixion miniature and initial). 15th-century panelled calf over wooden boards, the covers with double fillets forming rectangular border compartments containing, on the upper cover, fleur-de-lys, double-headed eagles and deer, and on the lower cover, flowerheads, dogs and hares, the lower cover set with two later metal flowerhead bosses (rebacked, possible sophistication to cover). Provenance: From the collection of Dr Anton Philips (1874-1951), Eindhoven; and thence by descent.

    AN IMPORTANT AND LAVISHLY ILLUMINATED BOOK OF HOURS, AN EXTREMELY RARE INSTANCE OF A MANUSCRIPT STILL RETAINING PILGRIM BADGES.

    PROVENANCE:
    1. The liturgical use of the Offices of the Virgin and of the Dead indicate that this Hours was made for use in Bayeux. The Calendar is also appropriate to that diocese, containing the bishops of Bayeux, St Vigor (14 July) and St Lupus (25 October). In red are Saints Regnobert (16 May, and translation 3 September), Rasyphus and Ravennus (23 July), the martyrs from Britain whose relics were transferred to Bayeux.

    The man and woman for whom the manuscript was made are shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child in the miniature opening the prayer Obsecro te (f.110v). The coat of arms above the couple has been overpainted. Two uncoloured arms are drawn in the margins below the openings of the Office of the Virgin and the Penitential Psalms. The first is quartered with a crescent in 2 (f.13) and the second has a bend and three charges that could be inverted bugle horns (f.66). These may be those of the original owners. The arms added to folio 110v (argent, a bordure azure, three hunting horns ?gules stringed and garnished) have some similarity to those of the Norman families of Boissonouze and of Le Cornu de La Boissière, du Buat, et de la Balivière.

    Shortly after its production the manuscript appears to have been owned by a woman, who is represented kneeling before St Giles in a miniature on one of the two leaves added after the first group of suffrages. The style of the two miniatures indicates that they were added in Normandy after the beginning of English rule.

    2. Leo S. Olschki, Geneva, 1918 (inscription inside upper pastedown)

    3. Arnold I. Mettler (1867-1945): his engraved bookplate pasted inside upper cover and included in the sale of his important collection, Collections Arnold Mettler St Gall, Manuscrits à Miniatures des IXe-XVe siècles, at MM Mensing et fils (Frederick Muller & Cie), Amsterdam, 5 April 1935, no.42.

    4. Dr Anton Philips (1874-1951), Eindhoven; and thence by descent. Part of his extensive art collection to be offered over seven sales at Christie's, Amsterdam, London and New York in October, November and December 2007.

    PILGRIM BADGES:
    It is remarkable that this manuscript retains three small images conventionally described as pilgrim badges. St Veronica with the Holy Face, painted on leather, is glued to the front pastedown; the simplified figure of St Veronica holds up the vernicle, the veil imprinted with the image of Christ after she had wiped His face as He carried the cross on the way to Calvary. (The ducal house of Burgundy had a particular devotion to the Holy Face, and Margaret of Bavaria, wife of Duke John the Fearless, fostered a cult of St Veronica. See M. Meiss, French Painting in the time of Jean de Berry, London, 1967, p.201-222, and the examples in Brussels, Bibl. Royale Ms 11060-61, and MS11035-37, containing four examples sewn into f.96). Sewn into the final leaf of the calendar is a smaller variant, a 'Veronica' image of the Holy Face painted in tempera on vellum. Both of these images could serve a devotional purpose: if the prayer 'Salve sancta facies' was recited while contemplating the miraculously transferred impression of Christ a thousand days' indulgence was earned. Much of the pigment has been worn away from Christ's face on both images, most probably by the repeated kissing of a devout owner (for similar examples, see The History of the Book: The Cornelius J. Hauck Collection, Christie's New York, 27 and 28 June 2006, lot 100).

    The extremely rare and most appealing survival from the owner's pilgrimages is the silver pilgrim's badge, now attached by a thread to the Veronica sewn into the final calendar leaf. Cherished as proof of pilgrimage or as aids to devotion, pilgrim badges were issued in huge numbers throughout the medieval period, yet only a few thousand now survive. Whilst numerous medieval manuscripts bear impressions and sewing holes attesting to the frequent and important practice of inserting badges into Books of Hours (the present example also bears evidence of at least nine more badges, mainly concentrated on the final calendar leaf), APPARENTLY ONLY SIX OTHER MANUSCRIPTS ARE KNOWN TO STILL CONTAIN THE BADGES THEMSELVES. Pre-eminent amongst these is KB MS 77 L60 in the Royal Library, The Hague, with 21 pilgrim badges sewn onto its final folio; the others are held in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Paris (Ms 1176), the Nationalbibliothek, Vienna (S.n.2596, 2624), the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Ms Douce 51), and J. Plotzek lists a Flemish Book of Hours of Gillette van der Ee in Andachtsbücher des Mittelalters aus Pivatbesitz (Cologne, 1987, no. 61) which contains 5½ badges. A tiny, very partial, fragment remains within a third manuscript in Vienna (no. 12897). For further reading see K. Köster, 'Kollektionen metallener Wallfahrts-Devotionalien und kleiner Andachtsbilder...' in Das Buch und sein Haus, 1 (1979).

    The image on the present badge, a woman kneeling beside a standing haloed figure, is close to that found in a mould in the Geld- en Bankmuseum, Utrecht, which shows St Mathurin (see Jan Pelsdonk, 'Een onverwachte groet van Sint Mathurijn. De vondst van twee vormblokken en een stempel voor devotiepenningen' in De Beeldenaar, 28 (2004), pp.259-267). St Mathurin was a priest whose acts included exorcizing a princess, Theodora; the present badge appears to show a devil emerging from a woman's mouth, and the fetters, the attribute associated with St Mathurin, together with the inscription '[M]ATVRIN'. The relics of St Mathurin were venerated in Larchant, a popular centre of pilgrimage, and the sale of pilgrim badges there is evidenced by the 1483 ban which prevented women from selling them to devotees of St Mathurin inside the church (see B. Spencer, Pilgrim Souvenirs..., London, 1998, p.15). The original placement of the badge within this Hours is not certain; its size and the position of its sewing holes are close to one of the impressions left on the final calendar leaf, and to the perforations made in the margin beside the inserted miniature of a lady kneeling before St Giles on f.38. Both the badge and this miniature, two rather similar images of a female kneeling before a saint, may bear testimony to the particular devotions of the manuscript's 15th-century owner. St Giles was venerated, particularly in Normandy, by infertile women.

    The form of the badge befits a wealthy pilgrim from a noble family; whilst the majority of badges were cast in a tin-lead alloy, this medallion-type example is stamped from a thin sheet of silver. That a hierarchy of badges existed is attested to by the habit of Philip the Good and Charles the Bold of commissioning an assortment of badges when on pilgrimages, 'of gold, silver-gilt, silver and pewter that they then distributed to relatives, courtiers and servants in strictly hierarchical fashion' (Spencer, p.12).

    CONTENT:
    Calendar ff.1-12; Office of the Virgin, use of Bayeux ff.13-33, 39 -65v: matins f.13, lauds f.24; Suffrages ff.33-36v: Trinity, f.34v, St Michael f.35, Sts Peter and Paul f.36v, St James f.36; later inserted prayers to St George f.37 and St Giles f.38; prime f.39, terce f.44, sext f.48v, vespers f.52, bound out of sequence before none f.55, compline f.61; Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.66-84v; Short Hours of the Cross ff.85-92v; Short Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.93-99v; Gospel extracts ff.100-107v; the Seven Verses of St Bernard ff.108-110; Obsecro te ff.110v-114v; O intemerata ff.114v-118v; Suffrages ff.119-127v: to Sts Stephen, Lawrence, Christopher, Sebastian, Nicholas, Martin, Leonard, Catherine, Margaret, Apollonia, Susanna, Anna, and the Apostles; Office of the Dead, use of Bayeux ff.128-175.
    ILLUMINATION:
    This extensively illuminated book of hours was produced in Normandy in the early 15th century by the artists responsible for the slightly earlier Hours of Agnes de Pont-Saint-Maxence, sold at Sotheby's, 17 December 1991, lot 77. In the two manuscripts, patterns developed in Paris c.1400 are interpreted with engaging vigour and directness in a rich palette dominated by blue, orange and pink set against burnished gold. Although of varying skills, the illuminators created expressive figures, often gesticulating with over-long hands, to give a captivating immediacy to both narrative and more iconic scenes. Preferring to model with line rather than tone, they set bold areas of comparatively flat colour against patterned gold grounds, frequently diapered. When an architectural setting is used, as for the Presentation in the Temple, f.55, its ornamental potential is exploited by scattering the ceiling with stars and picking out ribs and bosses in gold and orange. The delight in surface pattern and the distribution of decorative interest, so typical of later Norman illumination, is already evident in the work of these illuminators.

    In the elaborate full-page borders the conventional repertoire of stylised foliate forms is extended by more naturalistic flowers, birds and, most appealingly, butterflies. This richness continues in the partial borders, where the bars or initial staves can still transmute into the exuberant dragons found by the large miniatures.

    Very few Norman manuscripts survive from this period to demonstrate the traditions which fuelled Rouen's development as a major book producing centre by the mid-15th century. In his survey of books of hours in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Leroquais lists no Norman examples before the middle of the 15th century and only one for the use of Bayeux. An exhibition devoted to Livres d'heures de Basse-Normandie, held in the Bibliothèque municipale in Bayeux in 1985, presented only one earlier example, dated 1400-1420, for the use of Coutances. The present lot and the Hours of Agnes de Pont-Saint-Maxence are of great significance in establishing the existence of an illuminating workshop in Normandy in the first decades of the 15th century.

    The added miniatures in the style of the Talbot Master demonstrate within one volume the relationship between these earlier illuminators and those who worked during the English occupation of Normandy, which conclusively ended in 1453. Both the Talbot Master, named from manuscripts illuminated for John Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, and the Fastolf Master, named from work for Sir John Fastolf, concentrated on pattern and line rather than tonal modulation (see R. Marks and P. Williamson eds, Gothic, Art for England 1400-1547, 2003, cat. nos 42, 92, 94, 224). Their patrons were not exclusively English and the lady seen before St Giles could have been French. The stylistic continuity of Norman illumination in the first half of the 15th century is demonstrated by this exceptional book of hours.

    The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows:
    f.13 Annunciation
    f.24 Visitation
    f.39 Nativity
    f.44 Adoration of the Shepherds
    f.48v Flight into Egypt
    f.55 Presentation in the Temple
    f.61 Coronation of the Virgin
    f.66 God the Father, with David praying in initial below
    f.85 Crucifixion
    f.93 Pentecost
    f.100 St John the Evangelist, seated, writing
    f.102v St Luke, seated, reading at a lecturn
    f.104v St Matthew, seated, writing, his book held by an angel
    f.106v St Mark, seated, writing
    f.108 St Bernard, seated before a lecturn, beside the Devil
    f.110v Male and female owners kneeling before Virgin and Child
    enthroned
    f.114v The Virgin weaving at a loom
    f.128 Funeral Service

    The subjects of two small miniatures are:
    St George slaying the dragon (f.37); the female owner kneeling before
    St Giles (f.38).
    The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows:
    Trinity (f.34v), St Michael (f.35v), Saints Peter and Paul (f.36), St James as a pilgrim (f.36v), St David Praying (f.66), Saints Stephen (f.119), Lawrence (f.120), Christopher (f.121), Sebastian (f.122), Nicholas (f.122v), Martin (f.123), Leonard (f.123v), Catherine (f.124), Margaret (f.125), Apollonia (f.125v), Susanna (f.126v), Anna (f.127), Apostles (f.127v).


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Special Notice

    No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium.
    From time to time, Christie's may offer a lot which it owns in whole or in part. This is such a lot.