BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1490 and third decade of the 16th century]
These accomplished and iconographically-rich Parisian workshop Hours from the early 16th century are notably elevated here by an exquisite inserted miniature in the hand of the Master of Jacques de Besançon (fl. 1480-1500).
(1) Apparently produced in Paris, as suggested by the liturgical use, the choice of saints for the suffrages and calendar (St Geneviève appears in the suffrages, as patron saint of the city), and the style of the illumination. (2) LUCIEN GOUGY, antiquarian bookseller; his sale, pt. I, 3 April 1934, lot 9. (3) MAURICE BURRUS, no 18. Purchased from Vénot, Lyon, in 1934.
Calendar ff.1-6; Gospel extracts and Passion readings ff.7-23v; mixed Hours: of the Virgin, the Cross, and the Holy Spirit ff.24-92v (lacking compline from the hours of the Virgin); Penitential psalms ff.93-106; Litany ff.106v-110; Office of the Dead ff.110v-143; Suffrages ff.144-165.
The Crucifixion miniature painted by the Master of Jacques de Besançon (see lot 22) represents an important addition to the Master’s known oeuvre, to be seen alongside two of his renderings of the same subject: in a 1492 missal held in Paris at the Bibliothèque Mazarine (ms. 412) and on a single leaf now held in Prague (Národní galerie, K. 36879), originally part of another missal – smaller, less rich and perhaps slightly earlier – illuminated by the Master (Paris, Bib. Maz., ms. 410; see F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, 1995, pp.259-261 for discussion of these works). To note the formal variations in this trilogy is to observe the Master’s own process of experimentation and self-improvement: here, the head of one of the thieves is thrown back in agony, elsewhere it hangs down. The smaller format of our Hours necessitates the omission of the six passion scenes that surround the miniatures in Paris and Prague, but the figure of Mary Magdalene has been transported from those borders to the foot of the cross in the present miniature. This miniature has been inserted into a vibrant Book of Hours, painted in the third decade of the 16th century, featuring a notably broad programme of illumination: in particular, the unusual inclusion of a fully-illustrated Long Hours of the Holy Spirit has allowed for an innovative cycle of illumination, including the various appearances of the resurrected Christ and the supper at Emmaus. At least two hands can be identified, working in the style of the Parisian court painter Etienne Collault (fl. 1523-1541), whose richly contrasting palette and muscular figures crisply delineated in liquid gold or black attracted the patronage of French royalty and the court. The miniatures are of comparable quality to a Book of Hours illuminated by the Master himself, sold at Christie's, 15 July 2015, lot 34.
The subject of the large miniatures are as follows: John on Patmos f.7; St Luke f.8v; St Matthew f.10; St Mark f.11v; Agony in the garden f.12v; Arrest of Christ f.16v; Annunciation f.24; Visitation f.41v; Betrayal of Christ f.50; Harrowing of Hell f.53; Nativity f.54v; Christ before Pilate f.59; Resurrection f.60v; Annunciation to the shepherds f.61v; Flagellation f.65; Christ appears to Mary f.66v; Adoration of the magi f.67v; Christ carrying the cross f.71; Christ appears to Mary Magdalene f.72v; Presentation in the temple f.73v; Crucifixion f.77; Supper at Emmaus 78v; Flight into Egypt f.79v; Deposition f.84v; Doubting Thomas f.86; Entombment f.90; Pentecost f.91v; Bathsheba at her bath f.93; Job on the dung heap f.110v.
The suffrages contain a further 37 small miniatures, measuring 45 x 40mm, on ff.144, 144v, 145, 145v, 146, 146v, 147, 147v, 148, 148v, 149, 149v, 150, 150v, 151, 151v, 152, 153, 154v, 155, 155v, 156, 156v, 157, 157v, 158, 158v, 159, 159v, 160, 162, 162v, 163, 163v, 164, 164v, 165.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
176 x 116mm. iii + 165 + iv. Bound too tightly to collate: apparently lacking compline from the hours of the Virgin, else complete. 20 lines, ruled space: 100 x 65mm. TWENTY-NINE LARGE MINIATURES, 28 of these in architectural frames, one with a full panel border, illuminated initials throughout (small losses to the white pigment of the Crucifixion miniature, elsewhere very occasional instances of rubbing to the miniatures, light marginal wear). 18th-century red gilt morocco (scuffed at edges and with wear to the spine).