BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, c.1460]138 x 98mm. 305 leaves: 113(of 12 + i, relocated ruled blank), 2-48, 56, 6-158, 162(probably of 4, iii and iv cancelled blanks), 17-388, 394, COMPLETE, a few catchwords in the lower margins of final versos, some modern signatures, modern pencilled foliation followed here begins after first relocated leaf, 14 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 15 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 69 x 45mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched with yellow, one-line initials and line-endings in burnished gold on grounds of pink and blue patterned with white, two- to four-line initials with staves of blue or pink patterned in white with foliate or flower infills on grounds of burnished gold, accompanied in the outer side margins of versos and the inner and outer side margins of rectos by borders of hairline tendrils linking burnished gold leaves between acanthus leaves and stems of flowers or fruit in shell gold, blue, red, pink and green, one similar five-line initial with similar border to three sides, EIGHTEEN ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES in burnished gold frames above similar three-line initials, surrounded by bars of burnished gold, most decorated with flowers or foliate designs, and full borders of blue and gold acanthus and sprays of flowers and fruit interspersed with gold disks (many faces retouched and some flesh areas redefined, a few borders lightly rubbed, slight wear to some margins, opening leaf of calendar rubbed, water damage to a few lines of text on four pages). 19th-century French red morocco gilt in Renaissance strapwork style, turn-ins gilt, signed by Hardy relieur and Marius-Michel doreur. Red morocco box.
1. The book was made for the lady kneeling before the Virgin and Child in the miniature on f.20. She lived in Paris from the appearance and liturgical content of her book: the very individual choice of suffrages includes the very rare De sainctes reliques du palais, ff.269v-271v, listing the crown of thorns and other relics treasured in the Sainte Chapelle of the royal palace in Paris, home to the Parlement de Paris and the royal financial adminstration. The owner may have belonged to a family that acquired wealth and status through the law or royal service, since she wears the black hood appropriate to a non-noble woman. Her name was possibly Julienne since, most unusually in a Parisian calendar, St Juliana is entered in gold on 16 February.
2. 'Genevieve .... place mautbert pres le pave', partly erased inscription, f.303v
3. Comte de Fresne, his sale, Porquet, Paris, 13 March 1893, lot 22
4. Sotheby's, 6 May 1909, lot 41, the property of an English gentleman recently deceased who lived abroad, a notable collection of illuminated manuscripts from which Huntington's collecting contemporaries Walters, Richardson and Lewis also benefitted; to Robson for £139.
5. HSA, B1146
Parisian calendar, with St Genevieve, 3 January and 26 November, and St Merri, 29 August, in gold, ff.1-12; Gospel extracts, ff.13-19v: John with suffrage f.13, Luke f.15, Matthew f.17, Mark f.18v; Obsecro te, with inconsistent masculine and feminine endings, ff.19-23v; O intemerata in the feminine, ff.23v-29; Passion according to John, ff.29v-41v; ruled blank f.42; Office of the Virgin, use of Paris, ff.43-122v: matins f.43, lauds f.72, prime f.86, terce f.93, sext f.99, none f.104v, vespers f.110, compline f.118v; Penitential Psalms, ff.125-139v; litany, including Merri and Marcel among the confessors and Genevieve among the virgins, ff.140-146v; Hours of the Cross, ff.147-156; Hours of the Holy Spirit, ff.156v-164v; Office of the Dead, use of Paris, ff.165-220v; Quinze joyes, ff.221-227v; Sept requestes, ff.228-231v; Suffrages to the Trinity, Sts Michael, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, Andrew, Christopher (in feminine, ff.234v-236), Sebastian, Martin, Nicholas, Anthony Abbot, Claud, Mary Magdalen, Katherine, Genevieve, Louis of France, Francis, Anne, All Saints, ff.232-244v; hymns and prayers, ff.245-303v: Deus patre qui creasti f.245, Dulcissime domine jesu christe in masculine (for assured deliverance from adversity) f.250v, prayer attributed to Bede on the Seven Last Words from the Cross f.256v, Deus propicius esto michi peccatori f.259v, confession f.261v, to Father, Son and Holy Spirit f.265v, to the Trinity f.267v, de sainctes reliques du palais. O rex glorie domine virtutum...peplum cum lacte virginis etc... f.269v, prayers before the consecrated bread and wine f.271v, verses of St Bernard f.275, on five feasts of the Virgin f.276v, Obsecro en francois in the feminine f.278, O intemerata in French in the feminine f.282v, E [sic] tres certaine esperance f.287, Belle tresdoulce pucelle marie in feminine f.290, Seven Joys of the Virgin f.296v.
The miniatures in this richly decorated manuscript are in a particularly refined version of the style associated with the Bedford Master, named from his work for John, Duke of Bedford and Regent of France (d. 1435), and evolved by the Dunois Master, named from the book of hours of Jean, comte de Dunois, of the early 1440s (London, BL. Yates Thompson Ms 3). The workshop continued to attract patrons of the highest rank and discernment as well as a more local clientele, to which the commissioner of this Hours with its celebration of the relics in the Sainte Chapelle probably belonged. In miniatures and borders, this luxurious Hours is very similar to the Hours of an unidentified noblewoman attributed to the Dunois Master from the Ritman Collection (Sotheby's, 6 July 2000, lot 21). Despite the much larger size of the Ritman Hours, its miniatures are simplified versions of the corresponding scenes here: for example, the Nativity, where not only two angels and another shepherd but two magpies have joined Mary and Joseph around the Child, f.76; the Flight into Egypt where the Miracle of the Corn appears in the background, f.110; the burial of the dead, where at least ten more figures attend, f.165.
In general, the painting has a delicacy and precision found in only a few books of hours in the Bedford style from the 1450s or 1460s, such as that bequeathed to the British Library by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, where the Annunciate Virgin's dwelling is depicted in gold and brown like David's elaborate palace in the present lot (for Add. MS 35312, see J. Backhouse, Illuminations from Books of Hours, 2004, no 111). The fine technique is particularly suited to the wealth of detail in settings like that of the Annunciation, where the Virgin's draped bench, crowded shelves and basin and ewer derive from Netherlandish panel painting. Compositions originated by the great Netherlandish masters, van Eyck, Campin, van der Weyden, are frequently found in Bedford style books of hours. The Virgin suckling the child between music making angels, here f.221, for instance, reappears in the Crémaulx Hours (London BL, Add. MS 18751) and an Hours in Paris (BnF, ms lat. 1176). Both these are set in interiors inspired by the same sources as the even more meticulously detailed Annunciation in the present lot (see C. Reynolds, 'Netherlandish patterns in fifteenth-century Paris: Campin, van der Weyden and the Bedford Workshop', Von Kunst und Temperament, Festschrift für Eberhard König, 2007, pp.217-25).
The soft painterly technique and white flesh tones characteristic of the later Bedford style caused a subsequent owner to have an orange tone applied to many faces and dark lines to facial features and other flesh contours. This had been done before 1909 when the Sotheby's sale catalogue referred to facial features as 'roughly drawn'. It is not, however, aleays clear what is an addition and what original, since painters in the Bedford style often used line to define and detail. Black lines, for instance, detail a shepherd's hair in the Nativity of the Duke of Bedford's Salisbury Breviary (Paris, BnF, ms lat. 17294) and are similarly employed in the present lot for the backview shepherd with head in profile, f.93, a pattern also used in the Dunois Hours. The certain additions were surely prompted by aesthetic considerations not damage: the manuscript is otherwise in very good condition, with the burnished gold of the finely executed borders sparkling on nearly every page.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 St John on Patmos
f.20 The female owner kneeling before the Virgin and Child
f.29 The Agony in the Garden
f.43 The Annunciation
f.72 The Visitation, in a landscape with Joseph attending the Virgin
f.86 The Nativity
f.93 Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.99 The Adoration of the Magi
f.104v The Presentation in the Temple
f.110 The Flight into Egypt
f.118v The Coronation of the Virgin
f.125 King David in Penitence
f.147 The Crucifixion
f.165 Burial in a chapel with an angel rescuing the soul from a devil
f.221 The Virgin suckling the Child with music-making angels
f.228 The Last Judgement
f.234v St Christopher