• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 12137

    Illuminated Manuscripts from the Collection of Maurice Burrus (1882-1959)

    25 May 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 15

    BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1470 and first quarter 15th century]

    Price Realised  


    BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1470 and first quarter 15th century]

    A Book of Hours from the workshop of the Maître François (fl. 1460-80), purportedly once owned by Marie Antoinette.

    (1) The presence of the feminine famule tue in the Obsecro te makes it likely this manuscript was made for a female owner. (2) An illuminated engraving by Jean de Courbes (1592-1641) – perhaps taken from a printed Book of Hours and added later as a title-page for the present manuscript, which it now erroneously introduces as ‘Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis Ad Usum Romanum’ – bears the arms of the King of France and Navarre, as well as an ‘L’ beneath a crown and the monogram ?‘BRAFS’. It has the date '1673' added. (3) A ?19th-century ownership inscription at base ‘M ?Serthy le R. DC.’ at the base of the title-page. (4) A 19th-century French inscription to a flyleaf suggests that the manuscript was found amongst the books of Marie Antoinette ‘après sa mort tragique’. (4) MAURICE BURRUS, no 15. Purchased from Rossignol in 1935.

    Illuminated engraved title-page iv; Calendar ff.1-12; Gospel extracts ff. 13-18; Passion according to John and related prayers ff.19-46 (these a post-1500 insertion); Obsectro te, in the feminine ff.47-50; O intemerata ff.51-53; blank f.54; Hours of the Virgin ff.55-115; blank f.116; Penitential Psalms ff.117-129; Litany ff.130-133; Short Hours of the Cross ff.134-140; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.138-140; Office of the Dead ff.141-171; 15 Joys of the Virgin, in French f.172-177; Seven requests to our Lord ff.178-180; Suffrages and prayers ff. 181-194.

    Apparently commissioned for a female patron, the personal customisation of these workshop Hours is seen in the addition of John’s account of the Passion and female-specific prayers, including the Stabat Mater, at least 30 years later.

    The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows: John on Patmos f.13; Annunciation f.55; Visitation f.78; Nativity f.90; Annunciation to the shepherds f.96; Adoration of the magi f.100; Presentation in the temple f.104; Flight into Egypt f.108; Coronation of the Virgin f.111; David in Prayer f.117; Crucifixion f.134; Pentecost f.138; Funeral Mass f.141; Pieta f.172; Trinity f.178; Mass of St Gregory f.192.
    The subjects of the small miniatures are as follows: Luke writing his gospel f.14v; Matthew and the angel f.16; Mark writing his gospel f.17v; Betrayal of Christ f.19; Pieta f.32v; Annunciation f.35v; Virgin and Child f.47; Virgin and angels f.51; St Michael f.181.

    145 x 105mm. vii + 194 + iii, apparently COMPLETE (28 ff. inserted during a later rebinding), ruled space: 83 x 55mm. SIXTEEN LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES with full borders, nine small panel miniatures (cropping affecting the borders and certain of the arch-topped miniatures). Parisian c.1620 brown morocco gilt (lacking clasps, wear to edges). Slipcase.

    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

    Contact the department

    Special Notice

    No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium.

    Pre-Lot Text

    This and the previous lot provide a fascinating insight into the commercial production of Books of Hours in Paris at the end of the 15th century. The artists responsible for their illumination must have been working from exactly the same patterns and models since the miniatures are compositionally almost identical. Both manuscripts were painted by a follower or workshop of the celebrated Maitre François (fl. 1460-80), now generally accepted as identifiable with François Barbier père (see lot 22). An oeuvre of around fifty manuscripts has been reconstructed for the master through comparison to his single documented work from 1475: a two-volume La Cité de Dieu, Raoul de Presles’ vernacular translation of St Augustine (Paris, Bib. Sainte-Genevieve, ms. 246). The light, clear tones, especially in the landscape, the liberal use of gold strokes to highlight, the porcelain-like complexions of the female figures and the swarthiness of the male faces are all reflect the master’s individual style and execution.