BOOK OF HOURS, use of Coutances, in French and Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Normandy, Coutances, c.1490s]
A charming Book of Hours from Coutances and a very handsome and polished example of the work of the Rouen illuminator Robert Boyvin, favoured artist of Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, Archbishop of Rouen.
(1) The style of illumination, the liturgical use of Coutances and the saints in the calendar (St Marcouf of Bayeux, St Gildard of Rouen and St Romain of Rouen) indicate the manuscript's production in Normandy. The verse prayer to St James (not in Leroquais, but appearing in a manuscript from Avranches, described in Revue de l'Avranchin et du pays de Granville, 33, 1946, p.309) and the suffrage to St Veronica may have indicated the original owner’s devotion to these saints. (2) WILLIAM HARCOURT HOOPER (1834–1912), British artist, engraver and printmaker: his book plate. (3) MAURICE BURRUS, no 14.
Calendar ff.1-12; Hours of the Virgin, use of Coutances, with short hours of the Cross and of the Holy Spirit intermixed, ff.13-71; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.72-91v; O intemerata ff.92-94v; blank f.95; Office of the Dead, use of Coutances, ff.96-129v; Prayer to St James, in verse, ff.130-134; Gospel extract ff.134v-135; Suffrage to St Veronica f.135v.
Robert Boyvin, whose career is documented between 1487 and 1535-6, was a prolific and accomplished artist working in northern France at the turn of the 16th century. He was deeply indebted to the style of the Master of the Échevinage de Rouen, whose models and compositions he adapted and developed. More than fifty manuscripts, mostly Books of Hours, have been attributed to him (see I. Delauney, ‘Le manuscrit enluminé à Rouen au temps du cardinal Georges d'Amboise: l'œuvre de Robert Boyvin et de Jean Serpin’, Annales de Normandie, 3, 1995, pp.211-244). Boyvin’s is a distinctive style: his figures have long, triangular noses; the men have narrow, tapering chins and the women a soft, pale and smooth complexion.
The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows: Annunciation f.13; David in prayer f.72; Job on the dungheap f.96. The historiated initials are on ff. 38, 39, 44v, 48, 52, 56, 63 and 92; the illuminated initials with borders are on ff.25v and 130.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
170 x 130mm. 135 leaves: 112, 29 (of 8, i an inserted singleton), 38, 47 (of 8, lacking viii), 5-68, 74, 88, 97 (of 8, viii a cancelled blank), 10-178, modern foliation in pencil 1-135 followed here, catchwords survive, 13 lines, ruled space: 99 x 73mm. Illuminated initials throughout, two within full borders, THREE LARGE MINIATURES and EIGHT HISTORIATED INITIALS within full borders (lacking one leaf after f.36, else complete, margins of ff.13-15 repaired, occasional marginal staining). 19th-century calf gilt partially preserving 17th-century covers with gilt central panels (rubbed and scuffed).