BREVIARY, for the use of Benedictine nuns, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Cologne, c.1480]97 x 74 mm. 333 leaves, mostly gatherings of eight, later partial pagination reflects a previous misbinding now corrected, 21 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals ruled in brown, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one- and two-line initials alternately in red and blue, large flourished initials in red, blue, and green, some with gold, twelve large initials in colours on grounds of burnished gold, five with borders of flowers and foliage, FOUR FULL-PAGE MINIATURES WITH FULL BORDERS facing four large initials of similar type, three with similar borders (miniatures and borders rubbed, some large initials rubbed, line excised from f.6, trimmed into borders and flourishing and into last line of calendar leaves, margins partly excised from f.237, offsetting from, and wear to, blue lettering, rubric largely erased f.240v, final leaf slightly shrunk). 19th-century black morocco gilt with blind stamped panels (upper cover and first two leaves detatched, lower joint split).
The calendar includes the commemorations of founders, benefactors, abbots and members observed in the Benedictine Order; the feasts of St Benedict on 21 March and 11 July are in red. St Scholastica, the sister of St Benedict appears in the calendar (10 Feb) and in the litany, f.36v. In the sanctoral, St Benedict is referred to as 'our most blessed father', f.251v. Since the prayer to St Gregory on f.239, an unusual text in a breviary, is in the feminine, the book was presumably commissioned by or for a nun, who specially asked for its inclusion together with a miniature. The feasts in the calendar show that the convent was in Cologne or its diocese: Gereon (10 Oct) and the 11,000 Virgins (21 Oct), both in red, and Panthaleon in black (6 Feb) and in red and blue (28 July).
The obit of Domina Eva de Troestdorp has been added to 23 November and dated anno xiiii. A Maes van Troestdorp appears in the late 14th-century armorial of the Herald Guelders as a follower both of the Duke of Berg and of the count of Mark, whose territory lay to the east of Berg, across the Rhine from Cologne (C. van den Bergen ed., Gelre, B.R. Ms 15652-15656, Leuven, 2002). The name may have come from the town now known as Troisdorf to the south of Cologne. Other additions to the calendar show that the breviary continued in use.
Sir Matthew White Ridley, 5th Bart, 1st Viscount Ridley (1842-1904): engraved armorial bookplate inside upper cover. For many years a Conservative Member of Parliament, and Home Secretary 1895-1900, Ridley began his career as a brilliant scholar at Oxford where he was a Fellow of All Souls. His family owned considerable estates in the north-east and his father, the 4th Baronet, was an active member of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to which he presented 17th-century pamphlets.
Loose typewritten bookseller's description, partly in French.
Benedictine Calendar with Cologne saints, ff.1-6; Temporal capitulary from Advent, ff.6-76; Psalter, ff.77-192v; canticles ff.192v-201v; hymnal for Temporal, Communal and Sanctoral, ff.201v-236v; litany, ff.236v-239; prayer attributed to St Gregory, Domine ihesu christi adoro te in cruce pendentem, and prayer to St Gregory, ff.240-241v; Sanctoral capitulary, running from St Stephen to St Lucy, ff.242-290v; Communal capitulary, ff.290v-299; dedication of a church, ff.299v-300v; antiphonal for Temporal, Communal and Sanctoral, ff.301-331v; office of the Compassion of the Virgin, ff.331v-332v.
The illumination of the breviary is closely related in style to a group of manuscripts securely localised to Cologne in the years around 1480 by Ines Dickmann ('Der Codex Hunolstein und die Kölner Buchmalerei in der zweiten Hälfte des 15. Jahrhunderts', Kurtrierisches Jahrbuch, 2002, pp.199-207). The breviary of Hermann of Hesse, who became Archbishop of Cologne in 1480 (Liverpool, National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, M.12010) and the prayerbook of Valentin Engelbart van Geltersheyn for the use of Cologne, probably completed by 1482 (Gotha, Forschungs- und Landesbibliothek, Ms Memb. II 75), share the rich colouring and decorative vocabulary of the present lot, as well as the more direct and comparatively unmodelled style of the miniatures. The illuminators responsible for these books also received commissions from outside Cologne, as shown by the office book of Philip von Hunolstein, dean of Trier Cathedral, dated 1480 (Trier, Priesterseminar, Hs 414).
The miniatures of the present lot directly reflect the concerns of its first owner. The office for the Resurrection is prefaced by the scene of the Magdalen's recognition of the resurrected Christ, one of the few incidents in the New Testament when a woman other than the Virgin Mary plays a major role. For the Trinity, an image of the Virgin's power to intercede with Christ and His to intercede with the Father is converted into a Trinity by including the Dove of the Holy Ghost flying over the head of Christ. The Mass of St Gregory is occasioned by the prayer attributed to him, which must have been specially requested. The miniatures retain much of their charm despite their worn state, while many of the handsomely decorated initials have survived in good condition to witness the original richness of this small, highly individualised volume.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
The noli me tangere, the Magdalen kneeling before the risen Christ with banner and gardener's spade, f.48v; Trinity of Intercession, the kneeling Virgin bares her breast to Christ, kneeling opposite, who displays His wounds to God the Father enthroned above, the Dove of the Holy Spirit hovering to the right, f.63v; Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and St John, f.77v; Mass of St Gregory f.239v.
The large initials with borders are on ff.7, 49, 64, 78, 240, 242, 254, 272v