BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[south-eastern France, c.1460]
182 x 130mm. 176 leaves: 1-26, 3-108, 119(of 8 + ix), 1210, 13-148, 1511(?of 10 + vii), 16-218, 226, COMPLETE, catchwords in lower margins of most final versos, later pentrials to margin of one calendar leaf, 14 or 15 lines written in black ink in a lettre bâtarde between two verticals and 15 or 16 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 105 x 65mm, with occasional cadelles to the upper margins comprising interlacing and male or female heads, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one- and two- line initials of burnished gold on blue and/or dark pink grounds with white tracery with infills in the contrasting colour, similar line-endings, four-line initials of blue or dark pink with white tracery against grounds of burnished gold with ivy-leaf infills, TWELVE LARGE MINIATURES with compressed ogee-shaped tops with text and miniature surrounded by three-sided baguette with ivy-leaf and geometric patterns or naturalistic flowers on burnished gold, with elaborate full-page borders of blue, gold and red acanthus, sprays of naturalistic flowers and fruit and hairline tendrils with trefoil and disk terminals of burnished gold, many linked by rings, interspersed with numerous birds and drolleries (opening recto darkened, minor marginal dampstain to two calendar leaves, occasional small losses of pigment or gold, noticeably to some birds in the margins and to the cloth of honour in the miniature of David praying, smudges to miniature on f.53 affecting shepherd's face and baguette border, silver leaf oxidised). 20th-century brown blind-tooled leather.
The Offices of the Virgin and of the Dead follow the universal use of Rome; an origin in south-eastern France is suggested by the presence among the red letter days in the calender of 1 April, the feast of St Hugh, bishop of Grenoble, capital of the Dauphiné. This is most unusual: the saint is not noted in the calendars of the books of hours catalogued by Leroquais in the Bibliothèque nationale de France. As St Hugh enabled the foundation of the first Charterhouse, he was especially venerated by the Carthusians but Carthusian affiliations are unlikely to explain his presence here: the Carthusian St Hugh of Lincoln is absent from the calendar. It is more probable that the book was made for a patron in the Grenoble area, who would also have had particular reason to venerate the widely popular St Anthony Abbot, whose relics were at St-Anthoine-en-Viennois -- he is in red in the calendar and also appears in the Suffrages with St Sebastian, the other great patron of the sick, as the only male saints. The presence in the Litany of St Bernadino, canonised in 1450, and of St Vincent Ferrer, canonised in 1455, supports the dating c.1460 indicated by the the illumination and the costume of the Magi.
Idiosyncrasies in the text, like the misordering of the Gospel extracts so that the Annunciation follows the Adoration of the Magi, suggest that the scribe was not working in a major centre of book production where a better model would have been available. Other uncommon features, like the additional extract from St Luke's Gospel of the Adoration of the Shepherds, may reflect the specific demands of the patron.
This first owner was female, since the prayers to the Virgin are in the feminine and female saints predominate in the Suffrages, where they precede the hierarchically superior men. After the Virgin comes her mother St Anne, then the Magdalen and the Virgin's half-sisters, Maries Jacobi and Salome. The title of the Three Maries was applied to the three sisters and also to the Magdalen with Maries Jacobi and Salome. The latter triad was especially revered to the south of the Dauphiné, at the shrine of the Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer where they had arrived in Provence, along with St Martha, the Magdalen's sister; Martha follows Mary Salome in the Litany of the present lot. Beyond Provence, the growing popularity of St Anne, as a model for family life, encouraged devotion to her daughters, as had the Carmelite Order with their Marian focus. Nonetheless, they appear rarely in books of hours before the later fifteenth century; one of the earlier instances is in the Hours of Louis of Savoy (Paris, BnF, ms lat. 9473) of the mid-fifteenth century. The divisions in the Litany use the same titles as another Savoyard book of hours, now in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, ms W.292 (L. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Walters Art Gallery, France 1420-1540, II, 1992, no 137; J. Plummer, The Last Flowering, French Painting in Manuscripts 1420-1530, 1982, no 74). The style of the illumination is closely comparable to the work of illuminators active in Savoy.
The manuscript entered the Foljambe Library with Francis Ferrand Foljambe's marriage to Mary Arabella Thornhagh.
Calendar in French, ff.1-12v; Gospel Extracts ff.13-20: John f.13, Matthew f.14v, Luke f.16v, Mark f.18, Luke II 15-20 f.19; Office of the Virgin, use of Rome, ff. 21-85: matins f.21, lauds followed by prayers to All Saints f.34, prime f.48, terce f.53, sext f.57, none f.61, vespers f.65, compline f.72; Hours of the Cross, ff.86-89v; Hours of the Holy Spirit, ff.90-95; Penitential Psalms and Litany, ff.96-117v; Office of the Dead, use of Rome, ff.118-156; Obsecro te and O intemerata, ff.156v-163; Suffrages to the Trinity, on the Annunciation, on the Assumption, to Sts Anne, Mary Magdalen, Maries Jacobi and Salome, Margaret, Catherine, Apollonia, Agatha, Sebastian, Anthony Abbot, ff.163-171; Passion according to John, followed by prayer, ff.171v-174; added prayers in French, ff.174v-175v.
The finely crafted miniatures with their minutely detailed settings seem to be more refined works by the miniaturist of a Book of Hours in the collection of the Société des Manuscrits des Assureurs Français. Notable for its text, which is entirely in French, this book has been localised to Provence from the style of its illumination (D. Courvoisier ed., Manuscrits du Moyen-Àge et manuscrits littéraires moderne: la collection de la Société des Manuscrits des Assureurs français, 2001, pp.57-62). The text of the present lot suggests an origin in the Dauphiné, which had many links to neighbouring Provence, but its richer borders and miniatures, worked with both gold and silver, are closer to illuminations produced in Savoy. The meticulous style of the unknown illuminator shows all the imagination à la fois decorative et narrative, typical of Savoyard painters (F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520, 1993, pp.209-10).
The origin of the entrancingly detailed landscapes lies ultimately in Netherlandish painting, perhaps transmitted through the First Master of the Hours of Louis of Savoy, whose tiny figures, animals, birds and boats not only enliven the scenes but help to demarcate their space. (For BnF, ms lat. 9473, see Leroquais, plates LVII-LXIII; Avril and Reynaud, pp.208-9.) Here the vertiginously rocky hills and silvered lakes, typical of Savoyard illumination, contribute to the rich surface patterning rather than to a sense of depth. The delight in pattern is most evident in the exquisitely rendered cloths of gold that ornament interiors or clothe the protagonists, a taste also evident in the Hours of Louis of Savoy. In addition, silver is used to highlight hilltops, roofs, skies and mountain streams. The extent of minute and skilfull detailing in both narrative and setting is remarkable; the realistic detail found in the main compositions, such as the richly coloured marble facing the walls and floor of the chapel in the Annunciation, the muscial notation visible on the leaves of the choirbook in the burial service, extends to the secondary scenes in the backgrounds: a tiny swan glides on a distant moat, smoke emerges between the trees from a fire in the woods behind the Adoration of the Magi and a shepherd tends his flock of sheep in the hills behind the Flight into Egypt.
The figures surrounded by this wealth of anecdotal incident have neatly delineated faces within their simplified contours, perhaps derived from the figure style of Perronet Lamy, painter to the Dukes of Savoy, who had died by 1453. The Master of the Prince of Piedmont, who worked for Amadeus IX before he became duke, takes the simplification of figures even further and places them in comparatively empty settings where they lose the vivid interactions evident in the present Hours. This displays a superior sense of both narrative and design, executed in a superior technique, and can be dated to c.1460, when the career of the Master of the Prince of Piedmont was just beginning.
The density and refined execution of the border decoration match that of the miniatures. Numerous finely painted naturalistic birds and playful grotesques inhabit borders of foliage and fruit, richly illuminated with both burnished and shell gold. The broad bars breaking to join the large initials are also found in the Master's other known work in the Collection des Assureurs Français but the borders there are sparse and routine in comparison. The Hours of Louis of Savoy provides parallels for the delightful grotesques and birds which inhabit the borders of the present lot. The borders are, however, closer to those in the name work of the Master of the Prince of Piedmont, the book of hours for the future Amadeus IX of Savoy, now in Stuttgart (Württembergische Landesbibliothek, ms HB I 175), completed by 1465 (A. Paravicini Bagliani ed., Les manuscrits enluminés des comtes et ducs de Savoie, pp.109-120, pls.XLVIII-XLIX). The comparable drolleries and grotesques are joined there by the distinctive thick gold stems, outlined in black; interlacing knotwork is found in the initials of the Piedmont Hours and in the bars and initials of the Foljambe manuscript.
Illumination in Savoy was the result of the rich cross-fertilisation of Netherlandish, Germanic, French and Italian developments. The specifically Savoyard style that resulted had a wider influence extending into the Lyonnais and south-eastern France. This beguiling manuscript could have been written in the Dauphiné, perhaps at Grenoble, and illuminated there by an artist who had worked earlier in Savoy. Alternatively, it was sent for decoration to a Savoyard centre, such as Bresse, the capital of the Prince of Piedmont. Wherever executed, the resulting illumination is an exceptionally rewarding blend of the narrative and decorative traditions dominant in Savoy.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.21 the Annunciation, f.34 the Visitation, f.48 the Nativity, f.53 the Annunciation to the Shepherds, f.57 the Adoration of the Magi, f.61 the Circumcision, f.65 the Flight into Egypt, f.72 the Massacre of the Innocents, f.86 Pentecost, f.90 Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and St John, f.96 David, f.118 a burial, with clerics singing the office beside the coffin by the freshly dug grave