PSALTER WITH FESTAL BREVIARY, in Dutch, use of Utrecht, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Delft, c.1450]160 x 110 mm. iii + 351 + ii leaves: 112, 2-188, 194(of 5, lacking v, decorated singleton), 20-298, 3010, 3110(i and x singletons), 32-4010, 419(of 8 + viii), some catchwords in lower margins of final versos, 23 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand in two columns between four verticals and 24 horizontals ruled in red, prickings for verticals and horizontals, justification: 104 x 33-7-33mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one- and two-line initials alternately in red and blue, three-line initials in blue with red flourishing embellished with green extending into borders, large puzzle initials in red and blue similarly flourished, two with full borders of red flourishing heightened with green, blue and yellow, incorporating scrolls or animals (lacking a decorated inserted leaf perhaps with a devotional diagram before f.153, slightly cropped into flourishing at top and side). 19th-century brown calf (spine and text block split in two, worn).
1. The Breviary was written for Franciscan Use: St Francis heads the confessors in the litany, f.142, and is titled 'our holy father', f.231v. The calendar includes saints particularly venerated in the diocese of Utrecht, with feasts in red for Sts Pontiaan (14 January), Odolf (12 June), Lebuinus (25 June and 12 November), Willibrord (7 November). The presence of the martyr Jeroen in the litany points to the county of Holland, while the 'scallop' flourishing, typical of Delft, indicates that the manuscript was written and decorated in Delft in the mid-15th century. The explanation of the calendar gives 1435 as the current year but the text may have been copied verbatim from an earlier manuscript. The use of Dutch and the limited selection of offices make a Franciscan nun or tertiary a more likely owner than a friar, who could be expected to know Latin. Within Delft, there was a convent of Poor Clares -- St Clare is invoked in the litany -- and three houses of female Franciscan tertiaries: St Agatha, St Barbara and St Ursula, where the chapel was dedicated in 1454. Although the feasts of St Barbara and the 11,000 Virgins, led by St Ursula, were selected for inclusion, these were popular saints and the manuscript may have been made for sale outside Delft. Convents produced books for their own use and as a way of raising revenue.
The first, or a slightly later, owner has recorded family deaths in the calendar: Claes Spiker,'my brother', 15 April 72; Adriaen Smit, 'my father', 15 July 75; Lijsbet Ariaens, 'my mother', 28 November 38.
Annotated in Dutch 'geprent 1435'; the date 1435, from the explanation of the calendar, is repeated on one of the added leaves.
The property of a religious institution
Calendar, for the use of Utrecht, ff.1-8v; hier bi mach men weten waneer die maen ontfanghet, how to relate the information in the calendar to a specific year, from 1435, ff.8v-10v; preface to the Psalter Die souter is een suet horen..., ff.10v-12v; the Psalter in duutsche, ff.13-130; canticles, ff.130-141; litany ff.141-146v; prayer to the Trinity, ff.146v-147; commendation of souls ff.147-152v; 26 offices for feasts from the temporal and sanctoral running from Easter to Palm Sunday, the saints included being John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Paul, Francis, Katherine, Andrew, Barbara, John the Evangelist, Agnes, ff.153-328v; offices of Mary Magdalen, the Nine Choirs of Angels and of the 11,000 Virgins, ff.329-350v; ruled blank f.351.
The decoration is very like that in a book of hours dated 1456 (Utrecht, Rijksmuseum het Catharijneconvent, BMH 64) and localised to Delft, see A Korteweg, Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen, 1992, p.65. The inscribed scrolls in the full border opening the Psalter, f.13, are characteristic of Delft flourishing. Two are reminders to govern behaviour with death in mind: Quiquid agas prudenter agas respice finem, a quotation from the Gesta Romanorum, 103, compiled c.1300, and Sic disce quasi semper victurus. Sic vive quasi cras moriturus, a tag based on Seneca, Epistolae, V, 76. The third inscription was read by Ker (see vol. I, pp.322-3, Ms 3) as: Assit in hoc opere michi gratia pneumat[is] almi. The full border for the festal Breviary, f.153, is enlivened by a stag. The extensive flourishing of large initials and puzzle initials makes this an attractive and functional volume, guiding the reader round the most essential texts of the divine office.