PRAYERBOOK, in Latin and Italian, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Italy, Bologna, c.1490-1500]
95 x 70mm. ii + 144 + ii leaves: 1-28, 3-810 (f.31 in 4, apparently in original condition on a stub and with outer edge made-up), 98, 10-1510, COMPLETE, catchwords in lower margins of final versos, guide letters visible, foliation in black ink in upper corners from second to final flyleaves 1-146 (two leaves numbered 98 as also 136), followed here, 11 lines written in black ink in a round gothic bookhand between two verticals and twelve horizontals ruled in brown, justification: 60 x 45mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one-line initials in alternate blue and red, two-line initials of liquid gold on grounds of green, red or blue with scrolling decoration, LARGE ILLUMINATED FIVE-LINE INITIAL with stave of magenta and green including jewels and pearls, blue and gold ground, with accompanying panel border, and HISTORIATED INITIAL WITH FULL-PAGE BORDER of similar type (slight smudging to page with historiated initial). ?Italian 19th-century armorial brown morocco, both covers stamped in blind with shield within rope border, blue silk doublures (slight scuffing to extremities). Black cloth box.
The Calendar includes the feast of St Petronius, patron saint of Bologna, in red indicating that the manuscript was made in or for use in that city. It was written for a man who is named as 'jacobus' in prayers on ff.125v, 126v and 133. His coat of arms was presumably painted on f.31v but has been overpainted with a golden bird on a blue ground and the initials N.M.
A title 'Missa Beatae Virg. & aliae Orationes' on the second front flyleaf and the ownership inscription, 'Di Me Gracia Maria Isabella Sofia Comercati', on the lifted end pastedown are written in a 19th-century hand. This is likely to post-date or be contemporary with the current binding which has a blind-stamped shield per fess: 1) ?argent, a displayed double-headed eagle crowned, 2) ?gules.
Michael Tomkinson of Franche Hall, near Kidderminster (1841-1921): his bookplate pasted on front flyleaf, and a related stamp on a bookplate on inside upper cover. His collection, predominantly of Japanese art, was sold following his death and a note on the verso of the first endleaf presumably records the prayerbook's purchase then at 'Sotheby's price'.
Pamela and Raymond Lister: bookplate pasted onto front flyleaf, sold Sotheby's, 10 July 1967, lot 68.
Calendar ff.2-19v; Confessio generalis f.20-21; Gospel Extracts ff.21-31; Mass of the Virgin ff.31v-49; Prayer of St Augustine opening 'Deus propicius esto mihi peccatori' ff.49v-51v; Fifteen prayers on the Passion as said daily by St Bridget and indulgenced by Boniface VIII opening 'O domine iesu christe eterna dulcedo' ff.51v-80; Apostles Creed ff.80-81: sequence of prayers ff.81v-85, to be said daily kneeling before an image of Christ to keep from the pain of hell, to be said to gain divine assistance, counsel and favour, to be said when body or soul in danger; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.86-116v; Prayers and devotions addressed to God, opening with Psalm 68 and including two prayers naming the owner, 'famulo tuo jacobo' (ff.125v, 126v and 133) and ending with a prayer to protect when travelling and a prayer to a guardian angel ff.117-134; Prayers attributed to St Bernard and other indulgenced prayers ff.135-143v.
The Mass of the Virgin (f.31v.) opens with an initial with a half-length Mary adoring the Christchild, and has an elaborate and elegant full-page border. The palette combining dark red, blue, green, black and gold and the use of attenuated architectural forms, jewels and foliage places this manuscript alongside a group of Books of Hours made for members of the leading families of Bologna in the years around 1500: see M. Medica, 'La miniatura a Bologna al tempo di Giovanni II Bentivoglio', in Il Libro d'Ore di Bonaparte Ghislieri, 2008, pp.44-104. Many of these manuscripts were produced as a result of the association of illuminators in Bologna -- most influential among them the great, and highly individual, illuminator Francesco Marmitta -- with the calligrapher Pierantonio Sallando. Marmitta had collaborated with Sallando earlier in their careers and it was in their joint output that sophisticated architectonic borders -- such as those of the present prayerbook -- were developed in Bologna. The most luxurious and splendid result of their fruitful collaboration was the Offiziolo Durazzo (Genoa, Bib. Civ. Berio, m.r.cf.Arm.I, see Medica fig.23 and n.74).
The present prayerbook, also apparently written by Sallando, is the work of the illuminator who worked with Marmitta on the Rangoni-Bentivoglio Hours (Baltimore, WAG, ms W.469) and who was responsible for illumination in other Hours written by Sallando in Oxford (Bodleian Library, Canon. Lit. 260), Bassano del Grappa (Bib.Civ., Esp. 4 ms 1564) and the Hours of Giovanni II Bentivoglio (NY, Morgan Lib. ms 53): see Medica figs 29, 32, 38.
Perhaps the most famous of Sallando's manuscripts is the Hours of Bonaparte Ghisilieri (BL, Yates Thompson 29) illuminated by Amico Aspertini, Perugino and Matteo da Milano -- with some borders closely related in style to those of the manuscript offered here.
The large initial and part border on f.86 is of similar forms and colours to the border and initial on f.31v.