BOOK OF HOURS, use of Geneva, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[France or Switzerland, c.1515]
198 x 140mm. i + 202 leaves: 1-26, 38, 46(of 8, final two blanks cancelled), 5-268, COMPLETE, with modern pencil foliation including the added frontispiece, followed here; 19 lines written in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 20 horizontals ruled in pink, text justification: 132 x 84mm, rubrics in red, one- and two-line initials of burnished gold on grounds and infills of pink and blue with white decoration, line-fillers of the same colours, three-line initials of blue or pink patterned staves against burnished gold grounds with trefoil leaf sprays in the infills, TWENTY-FOUR SMALL MINIATURES IN THE FULL-PAGE BORDERS OF THE CALENDAR with occupations of the month on the rectos and zodiac signs on the versos, FIFTY-FOUR LARGE MINIATURES ACCOMPANIED BY FULL-PAGE BORDERS with divided grounds with fields of liquid gold with naturalistic sprays of fruit and flowers between areas with acanthus sprays on the vellum ground, occasional birds, grotesques or beasts (some rubbing, spotting and smudging). Panelled brown morocco gilt by Rivière, silver clasps and catches (upper joint split at foot, spine rebacked at head and upper cover restored at head, lacking one clasp).
The Office of the Virgin is introduced as ad usum eccl[es]ie Geben[ensis]; the Office of the Dead is also for the use of Geneva. Among the highest ranking feasts in blue in the calendar are Abbot Romanus of Condat 20 March, King Sigismund of Burgundy 2 May, Archbishop Mamertus of Vienne 11 May and Claud 6 June; the dedication of the church on 8 October is that of St Peter's Cathedral in Geneva. St Claud is invoked in the litany and in one of the suffrages. Liturgical books for the use of Geneva are rare: the Protestant reform reached Geneva early -- the canons of the cathedral were leaving from the mid-1520s -- and was very thorough and, under Jean Calvin, would be particularly suspicious of religious imagery. Only two other manuscript books of hours of the Use of Geneva are recorded at auction, both of the 15th century, one now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (lat. lit. f.15) and one sold at Sotheby's, 21 June 1994, lot 104; a 15th-century Netherlandish book of hours had the dedication of Geneva Cathedral added to its calendar (Sotheby's 18 June 1962, lot 136).
The commissioner was Philibert de Viry, seigneur de Planaz, as shown by the coats of arms integral to the original decoration. The arms of de Viry de Planaz, paly of 6 argent and azure, on a bend gules a crescent or, appear on f.183; on f.184v, they are quartered 1 and 4 with the arms of des Clets, gules on a cross or five mullets azure; on f.106 they impale those of Menthon de Montrottier, gules a lion rampant argent, a bend gobonny or and azure. Philibert de Viry, seigneur de Planaz, was the son of Jean de Viry (d. by 12 January 1492) and Jeanne, daughter and co-heiress of Anthoine des Clets. Philibert took part in a tournament in Geneva in 1498 bearing the arms shown on f.183. Although the name of his wife is not known, this book shows that she was a demoiselle de Menthon de Montrottier, as does the fact that his younger son, Pierre, chambrier of the Benedictine abbey of St-Claude de Joux and prior of Seyssel, had the arms of Viry de Planaz and Menthon de Montrottier sculpted on the doorway of the chapel at Planaz (near Fontainemore, Aosta). In 1525 Pierre gave the chapel a missal for the use of Geneva, written in 1452 for his great-uncle Amblard, canon of Geneva cathedral, to which Pierre added the arms of Viry, apparently without the de Planaz difference of the gold crescent, and of Menthon de Montrottier (Turin, Biblioteca Reale, ms 14602, see A. de Foras, Armorial et nobiliaire de l'ancien duché de Savoie, V, 1910, pp.374-5). The Viry were one of the great noble houses of Savoy, particularly associated with Geneva: they appear with the Menthon and the Sallenove, of which they were a younger line, in the traditional rhyme Terny, Viry, Compey/Sont le meillou maisons dou Genevy/Salanuva, Menthon/Ne leu cédont pas d'un boton.
Philibert's elder son, Henri, married Michiere de Pelly in 1529; with their son Pierre (viv. 1553) the male line of descent from Philibert de Viry died out. The book may have passsed though one of Henri's sisters to reach the next documented owner.
The added frontispiece leaf has the coat of arms and name of Prosper de Maillard, comte de Tournon, and the date 1610. His arms quarter de Maillard with those of his mother, Claudine de Bellegarde. His father, Pierre, was created comte de Tournon by Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy in 1569; Prosper (d.1616) was also a loyal servant of the ducal house, Governor of Savoy and Chamberlain to Charles-Emmanuel, who succeeded his father as duke of Savoy in 1580. Reputed to have been an accomplished poet, Prosper de Maillard resumably wrote the verse on the frontispiece: 'Pour tant de saveurs singulieres De mon prince et mon bienfacteur./Que puisse offrir a sa grandeur/Sinon des vouex et des PRIERES'. The poem shows that he must have presented the book to Duke Charles-Emmanuel (1562-1630), perhaps in 1610. It is ironic that one of the few remaining Geneva books of hours partly owes it survival to Charles-Emmanuel, whose failure to capture the city in 1602 is still celebrated as a defining moment in Geneva's history.
Bernard Quaritch, Catalogues of 1900 and 1902: Sotheby's, 27 July, 1911, lot 193; Pearson, 1916, no 72.
The manuscript was the subject of a study by the great authority on manuscript illumination, J. W. Bradley (1830-1916), published by the Chiswick Press: Notes on the de Maillard Livre de Prieres, London nd. A copy is included with the manuscript.
Calendar ff.2-13v: Gospel extracts ff.14-21: John f.14, Luke f.16, Matthew f.18, Mark f.20; Obsecro te ff.21v-24v; O intemerata ff.25-27v; Office of the Virgin, use of Geneva, ff.28v-85v: matins f.29, lauds followed by suffrages f.44v, prime f.58, terce f.63, sext f.67, none f.70v, vespers f.74, compline f.81; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.86-102v; Hours of the Cross ff.103-113v: matins f.103, prime f.104v, terce f.106, sext f.107v, none 109, vespers f.110v, compline f.112; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.114-124v: matins f.114, prime f.115v, terce f.117, sext f.118v, none f.120, vespers f.121v, compline f.123; Office of the Dead, use of Geneva, ff.125-162v; indulgenced prayers to be said on entering a cemetery, opening with Avete omnes anime fideles ff.162v-164; Suffrages to Trinity f.164v, God the Father f.165v, the Son f.166v, the Holy Spirit f.167v, St Michael f.168v, John the Baptist f.169v, John the Evangelist f.170v, Sts Peter and Paul f.171v, St James f.172v, Apostles f.173v, Evangelists f.174v, St Stephen f.175v, St Lawrence f.176v, St Vincent f.177v, St Christopher f.178v, St Sebastian f.180, several martyrs (not illustrated) f.181, St Nicholas f.182, St Claud f.183, St Anthony f.184, St Roche f.185v, St Anne f.186v, St Mary Magdalene f.187v, St Catherine f.188v, St Margaret f.189v, St Barbara f.190v; Seven prayers of St Gregory ff.192-193v; sequence of indulgenced prayers to the Virgin.
The miniatures impress by their sheer number but even more by their forceful and imposing figure style and luxuriant colour. Strongly featured faces and emphatically muscled bodies make single figures as effective as multi-figured scenes, all depicted with bold areas of pink, green and blue. Although miniatures like the striking Dove of the Holy Spirit, f.164v, show a strong sense of abstract design, the preference in general is for narrative. Even the iconic individual saints are ususally engaged in some activity, notably St Claud about to raise the dead, f.183, and St Anthony Abbot weaving baskets in which a devil lies trapped, f.184v. The rich palette and energy of the miniatures are enhanced by the borders with their more delicate flowers, fruits and decorative motifs. Enlivened with animals, birds and grotesques, they are thoroughly French in design: one of the divided grounds forms a partial gold fleur de lys, f.81, while the crown hovering over the Trinity, f.164v, is formed of fleur de lys. Philibert de Viry might have ordered his book from a French centre, perhaps Lyon to the west, where the Master of Guillaume Lambert had established a tradition of rugged faced, strongly drawn figures, or even from Paris, where the bold outlines of woodcut design had also influenced miniature painters. Alternatively, artists familiar with French traditions of illumination, in both manuscript and printed books, were employed more locally.
Wherever they worked, they produced an exceptionally richly illustrated manuscript with all the miniatures expected in a book of hours as well as extended cycles providing a miniature for each of the hours of the Cross and of the Holy Spirit and for each of the extensive sequence of suffrages. The profusion of illustration is a feature of contemporary printed Horae, here being extravagantly emulated in manuscript. Although the overall model seems French, a German source was used for sixteen of the miniatures: the small woodcut Passion of Albrecht Dürer, published in 1511. Indeed, it is possible that Philibert de Viry even requested this, since Dürer's cuts are followed not just for the Hours of the Cross but for the Hours of the Holy Spirit, which most unusually continue the narrative sequence through the appearances of the resurrected Christ to conclude with Pentecost, the scene that usually opens the hours of the Holy Spirit. In addition to these fourteen miniatures, between ff.103 and 123, the small woodcut Passion provided models for the Annunciation and the Nativity, ff.29 and 58. The woodcuts, roughly similar in height but broader in width, are often varied in the miniatures, whether by simplifying and omitting to strengthen the impact of the scene in a narrower format, or by adding detail to interiors and lanscapes. Two, the Nativity, f.58, and Christ appearing to his Mother, f.117, are reversed. Dürer's small Passion was the most influential of all his works and circulated in prints by imitators as well as paintings and drawings so that the designs may have reached the artists of the de Viry hours through an intermediary.
The borrowings from Dürer date the book to after 1511, when the small woodcut Passion was issued, making it a splendid witness to tradtional devotional practices in Geneva at the eve of the Reformation. Geneva determinedly asserted its independence from Savoy, where Philibert de Viry's lands lay, yet his book of hours with its fusion of French and German artistic influences is also emblematic of 16th-century Savoy, caught between French king and Habsburg emperor.
The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows:
St John on Patmos with the Beast of the Apocalypse f.14; St Luke with his ox f.16; St matthew with an angel f.18; St mark with his lion f.20; Lamentation at the foot of the Cross f.21v; Holy Family with the Christchild at the virgin's breat f.25; Annunciation f.29; Visitation (Virgin's face and hem smudged) f.44v; Nativity with the shepherds f.58; Annunciation to the shepherds f.63; Adoration of the Magi f.67; Presentation in the Temple f.70v; Flight into Egypt f.74; Coronation of the Virgin f.81; David in penitence f.86; Arrest of Christ f.103; Christ before Caiaphus f.104v; Christ carrying the Cross f.107v; Crucifixion f.109; Deposition from the Cross f.111; Entombment f.112; Descent into Limbo f.114; Resurrection f.115v; Christ appearing to his mother f.117; Noli me tangere f.118v; Supper at Emmaus f.120; Doubting Thomas putting his fingers into Christ"s wound f.121v; Pentecost f.123; Job on the dungheap f.125; Trinity, three identical figures beneath a large crown f.164v; God the Father f.165v; Man of Sorrows in a landscape f.166v; Dove of the Holy Spirit f.167v; St Michael f.169; St John the Baptist f.169v; St John the Evangelist f.173v; Sts Peter and Paul f.171v; St James the Greater f.172v; Male saints f.173v; God the Father with the four symbols of the Evanglists f.174v; Stoning of St Stephen f.175v; St Lawrence f.176v; St Vincent f.177v; St Christopher with Christchild and hermit f.178v; St Sebastian f.180; St Nicholas and the three boys f.182; St Claude outside a church blessing two bodies f.183; St Anthony with the devil in a basket f.184v; St Roch showing his wound to the angel f.185v; St Anne with the Virgin and Child f.186v; Sy Mary Magdalene f.187v; St Catherine f.188v; St Margaret f.189v; St Barbara f.190v; Mass of St Gregory f.192.
The subjects of the Calendar scenes are January f.2r&v A couple feasting and a child Aquarius, February f.3r&v A man warming before a fire and Pisces, two fish in a lake, March f.4r&v Two men pruning and Aries, a sheep grazing, April f.5r&v A couple courting and Taurus, a bull in a wood, May f.6r&v A couple riding out on a horse and Gemini, a naked couple caressing in treetops, June f.7r&v A man cutting corn and Leo, a lion in a landscape, July f.8r&v A man shearing a sheep and Cancer, a crayfish in a lake, August f.9r&v A man threshing and Virgo, a young woman holding two palms, September f.10r&v A man and a woman gathering grapes and Libra, a balance held by a hand, October f11r&v A man sowing a ploughed field and Scorpio, a scorpion in the sky, November f.12r&v A man shaking acorns down for his hogs and Sagittarius, December f.13r&v A man about to stun a hog and Capricorn, a goat standing up to eat leaves from a tree. (2)