MISSAL -- BEAUVAIS MISSAL, three leaves, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Northern France, perhaps Beauvais or Amiens, late 13th or early 14th century]
c. 290 x 200 mm. Three leaves, written in 2 columns of up to 21 lines each, in a high-quality formal Gothic bookhand, justification: c.200 x 140mm, music in square notation on a 4-line red stave, TWENTY ILLUMINATED INITIALS: one 5-line in the form of a fish, one 4-line on which stands a wading-bird with an eel in its beak, one 3-line and ten 2-line, in blue and pink, some with gold, all with foliate extensions mainly in pink and blue, white highlighting and often gold, often filling the margins.
These leaves come from the third volume of a three-volume Missal of the use of Beauvais. They comprise one leaf (the last leaf of a quire, with catchword) with part of a mass for St. Lucy (December 13); another with the end of a mass for the Virgin Mary and the start of the mass for St. Peter (January 18), 'Deus qui beato apostolo tuo Petro'; the third with the end of a mass for St. Margaret, the whole of the mass for St. Praxedis (July 21), 'Indulgentiam nobis domine ', and the beginning of a mass for St. Mary Magdalene (July 22), 'Gaudeamus in domino [...]'.
The parent volume of 309 leaves had an undated inscription recording that it was given to Beauvais Cathedral by a former canon, the late Robert de Hangest, so that his death would be commemorated every year on November 3. We learn the date of Robert's death from later transcripts of medieval Beauvais registers, which recorded that 'en septembre Robert de Hangest, chanoine, nous donne son Missel, en 3 volumes, à la charge d'un obit, 1356' (see H. Omont, 'Recherches sur la bibliothèque de l'église cathédrale de Beauvais', Mémoires de l'Institut national de France, 40, 1916, at p.5); presumably Robert made the gift in September, knowing he was close to death, and died on November 3. The Missal was still at Beauvais in the 17th century, recorded as 'Missale Roberti Hangesto; en beau vélin et belles miniatures' (Omont, p.52 no.70), but the library was dispersed at the Revolution, and a group of manuscripts had found their way to Lyon by 1933, when several were bought by the Biblothéque nationale from the collection of M. Gay. The parent manuscript of the present leaves was in the collection of Henri-Auguste Brölemann (1775-1854), also of Lyon, and passed to his great grand-daughter, Mme Etienne Mallet, who sold it at Sotheby's, London, May 4, 1926, lot 161; it then passed within 20 years or so to Otto Ege (1888-1951) of Cleveland. It was doubtless Ege who broke up the volume, as leaves appear in his portfolios of Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts. The present leaves may also have been owned by the medieval art historian Harry Bober (1915-1988), as was one now at the Art Museum, Oberlin; other leaves are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Pierpont Morgan Library, and Houghton Library; acquired from Goodspeed's and Elmar Seibel, 1988 and 1989.
The historiated initials have sometimes been attributed to the artist of the Hours of Yolande of Soissons (Morgan Library, MS M.729), made at Amiens in the 1280s, and while this attribution has not been widely accepted, it is notable that Hangest is only ten miles north-west of Amiens, and this is a likely origin for the artist of the Missal. (3)