OFFICE BOOK, in Latin, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[likely Albi, second half 15th century]
265 x 175mm. 112 leaves: 1-148, lacking at least one leaf at end, 18 lines written in a gothic bookhand in brown ink between 19 horizontals and two verticals ruled in grey, justification: 188 x 127mm, some pages with ruling for musical notation of four-line staves in red with square neumes, rubrics in red, numerous two-line initials alternately red and blue with penwork flourishing of brown and red respectively many of the infills containing profile heads (thumbing and darkening of margins, occasional spotting and smudging). English 18th-century brown morocco gilt, spine in seven compartments with tools including greek key and daffodils (some stains, surface losses and scuffing to joints and edges).
1. Dominican convent, Albi: their contemporary ownership inscription in a scroll in the lower margin of f.11. The manuscript was evidently made for, and probably at, the Dominican house at Albi. The Calendar includes the feast of St Cecilia, patron saint of Albi in red (22 November) and the feasts of many Dominican saints -- Thomas Aquinas (7 March), Peter Martyr (29 April), Translation of Dominic (24 May) Blessed Dominic 'our father' (5 August) -- as well as specifically Dominican anniversaries: of the fathers and mothers of Dominicans (4 February), of all those buried in our cemeteries (12 July), of deceased friends and benefactors of the order (5 September), of all the brothers of the order (10 October). St Vincent Ferrar, is also entered in red in the original hand (5 April). He died in 1418 and was only canonised in 1455, suggesting that the manuscript was made after that date. An obit entered in the margin against 15 October records the death of the Master of the Dominican order, Jean du Feynier, in Toulouse in 1538. St Dominic founded his Order of Preachers to combat the heresy of the Cathars, also known as Albigensians since Albi was considered one of its centres. The convents around Toulouse and Albi were the earliest Dominican foundations.
2. Sir Edward Davies Davenport of Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire (1778-1847): his armorial bookplate inside front cover. Sir Edward Davies Davenport acquired a rich collection of works of art and books during the course of his travels in Europe -- one of these, in 1814, included Elba, where he interviewed Napleon. A Whig MP for Shaftesbury between 1826 and 1830 he was often described as provocative and rebellious and stood across the House from his father Davies III who was Tory MP for Cheshire. It was for Edward that Capesthorne Hall was built.
Dominican calendar ff.1-6; prefatory material ff.7-10v: frequent prayers and parts of the office, some noted f.7, order for confession 'to God, the Virgin, St Dominic, all brothers and you brothers' present f.8v, benedictions f.10, added prayer for the presentation of the Virgin f.10v; Capitulary and Collectary ff.11-88v: temporal f.11, sanctoral with Dominican feasts f.37v, for the Virgin throughout the year f.77, for the Office of the Dead f.79v, communal f.81v, for receiving novices f.84v, for the election of a Provincial and for a General Chapter f.85, benediction of travellers f.85, for receiving someone into the benefits of the Order f.85v, benedictions for the table and for a meal and for the clothing of the professed f.87v; noted Antiphonal ff.89-112: temporal f.89, sanctoral f.103v, communal f.111; office for bringing communion to the sick (lacking end); f.112v.
Designed to be used in conjunction with a Psalter, Lectionary and Hymnal, this manuscript provides the other elements of the Breviary necessary for the performance of the Divine Office. The ordering of the components of the Breviary into distinct units was an unusual convention that seems particularly associated with dioceses in southern France: V. Leroquais, Les bréviaires manuscrits des bibliothèques publiques de la France, I p.LV. This manuscript incorporates other matter essential to the Dominican convent at Albi and its large clear script suggests that it was designed for communal use by the friars; some of the heads in the initials are tonsured, as on f.12v. The vigorous immediacy of the decoration suggests that the book may have been produced within the convent.