BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Utrecht, c.1425]151 x 115 mm. 218 leaves: 16, 27(of 6 + vi, miniature singleton), 3-58, 67(of 8 lacking vii), 76, 88, 95(of 4 + v, miniature singleton), 109(of 8 + i, misbound leaf), 118, 129(of 8 + v, miniature singleton), 137(of 8, vii misbound as f.130), 148, 159(of 8 + iii, miniature singleton), 167(of 8, vii misbound as f.64), 178, 186(of 4 + i, miniature singleton, and ii, misbound leaf), 197(of 8 lacking i), 20-218, 224, 239(of 8 + ii, miniature singleton), 248, 256, 26-298, 302(i+ii), three catchwords in lower margins of versos, 15 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 16 horizontals ruled in brown, justification 82 x 57 mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one-line initials alternately in light blue flourished with red and in burnished gold flourished with blue, numerous two-line initials in burnished gold on blue and red grounds patterned with white and marginal extensions of short sprays of small green leaves, twelve large initials similarly executed with full bars of burnished gold and three-sided borders of small green leaves and trefoils in burnished gold, pink and blue on hairline tendrils, three very large initials in pink or blue on grounds of burnished gold with foliate or interlace infills surrounded by full borders of ivy leaves in burnished gold, pink and blue and smaller green leaves on hairline tendrils enclosing burnished gold bars to outer margin and below, ONE HISTORIATED INITIAL ON BURNISHED GOLD WITH A SIMILAR FULL BORDER, SIX FULL-PAGE MINIATURES WITH GROUNDS OF BURNISHED GOLD AND FULL BORDERS of sprays of burnished gold trefoils and green leaves (lacking leaves from the Office of the Dead, two leaves with large initials and borders and five miniature singletons, other leaves possibly lost in rebinding when some leaves and gatherings misbound, miniatures rubbed, the first severely, some wear to borders, staining to some margins). 17th or 18th-century vellum over pasteboard (upper joint detached from bookblock, with short split at head, some wear).
1. The book was made for use in the diocese of Utrecht; the saints in the calendar and litany perhaps indicate Utrecht itself, although Sts Honesta (11 October) and Candida (1 December) might point to the south. The border decoration is in the bonte stijl localised to Utrecht (A. Korteweg, Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen, 1992, pp.36-37, 40-41).
2. Births of members of the Willems family were recorded in the 16th century on ff.132v-133v.
3. 19th-century ownership inscriptions of E. Asbury, the antiquarian Alfred Zouch Palmer of Sonning, Berks, and Oswald Zouch Palmer.
4. Charles E. Roseman Jnr of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, bought from George Gregory of Bath in 1925 (de Ricci, Census, II, 1937, pp.1960-61).
Calendar, ff.1-12; Office of the Virgin, use of Utrecht, ff.14-58, 65-72, 59-62: matins f.14, lauds f.26v, prime f.39v, terce (lacking opening leaf) f.44, sext f.47v, none f.51v, vespers ff.55v-58v and 65-70, compline ff.70-72 and 59-62; Sunday Hours of the Trinity, ff.73-84; Monday Hours of the Dead, ff.86-95; Tuesday Hours of the Holy Spirit, ff.130, 96-100v; Wednesday Hours of All Saints, ff.101-106v; Thursday Hours of the Holy Sacrament, ff.108-112; Friday Hours of the Cross, ff.113-119; Saturday Hours of the Virgin, ff.64, 120-122; prayers to the Virgin, ff.122-127; long Hours of the Holy Spirit, lacking opening leaf, ff.135-149, 131-132; ruled blanks with later birth records of the Willems family, ff.132v-134v; Suffrages to Sts John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, John the Evangelist, prayer attributed to St Augustine, to the Virgin, Sts Barbara, Katherine, Agnes, ff.150-160v; ruled blank f.161; Penitential Psalms, ff.163-178; Litany, fff.178-184; short Office of the Dead with three lessons, lacking some leaves before the final leaf of prayers, ff.185-218.
Apart from a few incipits in Latin, the book is entirely in Dutch, including some less usual rubrics. The Tuesday Hours of the Holy Spirit is signalled as vander dope ons heren, f.195, reflecting the prayers that follow the life of Christ from the Baptism; the Wednesday Hours of All Saints are headed van dat onse here verraden wert, f.101, again reflecting the content of the prayers which extend the theme of Christ's betrayal. The heading to the Friday Hours, vander passie ons heren, completes the sequence of Christ's life on earth. Headings of similar meaning are found in a book of hours in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, ms Buchanan f.3, with border decoration in the same style but miniatures by a different hand (P. Kidd, Medieval Manuscripts from the Collection of T.R. Buchanan in the Bodleian Kibrary, Oxford, 2001, pp.129-138).
The glowing miniatures are by the Master of the Brno Speculum, named from a copy of the Speculum humanae salvationis in Brno (Statni Vedecka Knihovna, Fonds Nova Rise ms 80), who was active c.1415-1425, For the Brno Master and the other Masters mentioned below, see H.L.M. Defoer et al., The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting, 1989, pp.67-116). His technical skill in deploying burnished gold and silvery metals is matched by his iconographic inventiveness. The Monday Hours of the Dead allowed him to go beyond the normal subjects for a book of hours to show two souls tantalisingly positioned just within the hell mouth representing purgatory, from which they could be released through the prayers of the living, f.85. At the Last Supper, Judas is dramatically isolated from the other Apostles as he receives the sop from Christ (f.107v).
The Master's work is rare, having been identified in only a few other manuscripts, but he forms a crucial link between two of the most important styles in Dutch illumination in the first half of the 15th century, those of the Master of Mary of Guelders, his contemporary, and the Masters of Otto van Moerdrecht, active into the 1450s. These miniatures are probably the latest known by the Brno Master: the soft painterly delicacy of the Master of Mary Guelders is here tempered by the Moerdrecht Masters' stronger tonal contrasts -- especially evident in the black hair of Christ at the Last Supper and Last Judgement (ff.107v, 162v) -- and their greater reliance on line to detail faces.
Arguments have been made for Utrecht or the Duchy of Guelders as the centre for this group of related illuminators. The Utrecht style of the borders and text decoration of the present lot support localising the Brno Master to that city, since the manuscript appears to be the product of one centre: the Brno Master was responsible not only for the miniatures on singletons but also for the appealing historiated initial of the Virgin and Child, integral to the text block. Borders in this style are particularly associated with the Masters of Zweder van Culemborg; miniatures by the Brno Master and the Zweder Masters occur together in a book of hours in Rotterdam (Gemeente Bibliotheek, ms 96 G 12), which predates the apparent development of the bonte stijl borders c.1425. A comparatively new style of border coupled with late works by the Brno Master make this book a significant witness to illumination in Utrecht.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13v The Annunciation (severely rubbed); f.63v The Trinity with the Father enthroned supporting Christ on the Cross, the Dove between; f.85v Pugatory: two devils tormenting two souls in a hell mouth; f.107v The Last Supper; f.162v The Last Judgement.
The subject of the historiated initial on f.14 is the Virgin at half-length with Child on the crescent moon.