JOYS OF THE VIRGIN AND OTHER DEVOTIONS, fragment from a Book of Hours, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
191 x 135mm. 27 leaves: 1-28, 34, 42, 54+1, final leaf on a guard but text continues and is complete, 13 lines in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 14 horizontals ruled in pink, top and bottom lines across margins, justification: 90 x 54mm, rubrics in red, text capitals washed yellow, one-line initials of burnished gold against grounds and infills of pink and blue with white penwork decoration, line-fillers of the same colours, two- to four-line initials with staves of pink or blue against grounds of burnished gold with ivy-leaf tendrils in the infill, a four-line initial of blue against a ground of pink outlined with a fillet of gold and with infill of burnished gold with ivy-leaf tendrils, the outer margin of every text-page with a bar border of pink, blue and gold terminating in paired sprays of ivy-leaf rinceaux in the upper and lower margins and with sprays of hairline tendrils with golden trefoils into the side margins, FOUR MINIATURES WITH CHEQUERED GROUNDS of blue, gold and pink and ACCOMPANIED BY FULL-PAGE BORDERS with patterned baguettes on three sides and rinceaux in all margins (slight flaking from some garments and fleshtones, with retouching to garments and possibly several faces, especially those of the Virgin on ff.19v and 23, slight rubbing and smudging to border sprays on f.1 and to f.27, minor spotting and yellowing of margins, small stains in outer margin of f.24). French 17th-century morocco gilt à l'éventail, ?du Seuil (recased and rebacked, corners slightly rubbed). Green cloth-covered box.
1. Made for the man shown kneeling before the Virgin on f.1, this manuscript was once part of a Book of Hours now in Baltimore (Walters Art Museum, W.273): L.M.C. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, I, France, 875-1420, 1989, no 89, pp.249-252, fig.173. The Office of the Virgin in the Walters manuscript is for the extremely rare use of the Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem and the patron shown before the Virgin on f.1 of this fragment was presumably a member of this order of infirmarians and military knights. Some of the prayers here seem particularly relevant to these concerns, for example the prayer invoking the intercession of Julian, another hospitaller, the suffrage to the plague saint, Sebastian and the prayers for those making voyages. Furthermore the patron wears a long black hooded gown, appropriate garb for an Hospitaller.
2. Robert Hoe (1839-1909): his ex libris inside upper cover; [C. Shipman], A Catalogue of Manuscripts forming a Portion of the library of Robert Hoe, 1909, p.119; the sale of his library at Anderson Auction Company, New York, 24 April, 1911, lot 2172. The manuscript was already separated from the main section of the Hours by this date. It seems likely that the present binding was that of the intact Hours and that it was remodelled for use on this section at the time of the division.
3. HSA B1149.
Fifteen Joys of the Virgin ff.1-7v; Prayers on the Five Wounds of Christ ff.7v-12; Suffrage to Saint Sebastian ff.12-13v, followed by other prayers In viam pacis salutis, a prayer for those making a voyage opening Adesto domine supplicationibus nostris in viam famulorum tuorum and one calling on the intercession of Julian and the Virgin for 'bonum iter bonum viagium bonam viam fidelem hospitem' and opening Deus quidas escam iumentes et pullis corvorum ff.13v-15v; Litany of the Virgin ff.16-19; Salve mundi d[omi]na et celi regina mater dei integra ff.19v-20v; Five Joys of the Virgin opening Gaude virgo stirps regia, ff.21-22 followed by the prayer Deus omnipotens iustus et misericors f.22r&v; Christi virgo dilectissima virtutum operatrix f.23r&v; prayers to the Virgin opening with Sancta virgo maria mater domini nostri ff.24-27v.
The manuscript has all the characteristics of a luxurious book of hours produced in Paris around 1400. The miniatures are by a follower of the Boucicaut and Mazarine Masters, both of whom produced similarly successful portrait figures on a tiny scale. The Hospitaller kneeling before the Virgin, with his carefully detailed features and slightly untidy hair, has all the apparance of a specific individual. Even though he cannot be named, he shares the individuality given to the Maréchal de Boucicaut in his book of hours or, by the Mazarine Master, to Charles VI and the Dukes of Berry, Burgundy and Anjou in the Dialogues de Pierre Salmon (see E. Taburet-Delahaye and F. Avril, Paris 1400, 2004, pp.120-3, 280-2). The extremely elegant secondary embellishments combine decorative forms seen also in the Duke of Berry's Belles heures, completed by 1409: the newer type of gilded ivy leaves on hairline tendrils with the earlier painted stems of red and blue bearing both gilded and painted leaves. These spring from attractively varied baguettes around miniatures and from finer bars on every text page, often with additional tendrils extending from large initials into the inner margins of rectos. The initials and line endings are equally finely executed, demonstrating the skills of book craftsmen in Paris at the height of its fame as a centre of illumination.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.1 portrait of the Hospitaller patron kneeling before the Virgin and Child
f.19v Virgo lactans, the Virgin seated on a cushion suckling the Christ Child
f.23 Virgin and Child standing in front of a cloth of honour held by angels, the Christ Child holding a bird
f.24 Virgin and Child, flanked by Sts John the Evangelist and John the Baptist, all seated on the ground