THE BOWET HOURS, use of Sarum, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Bruges, c.1410 and 1420]
203 x 144 mm, ii + 95 + ii leaves: 16, 28 (of 4 + i, iii, v, vii), 39 (of 8 + ii and vi, lacking i), 411 (of 8 + iii, vi, ix), 510 (of 8 + i and v), 69 (of 8 + vii), 78, 89 (of 8 + i), 99 (of 8 + v), 1010 (of 8 + iv and viii), 116, all miniatures on inserted leaves. 24 lines written in brown-black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 25 horizontals ruled in grey, justification: 128 x 82mm, rubrics in red, line endings in red and blue, text capitals touched red, one-line initials alternately in burnished gold flourished with dark blue and blue flourished with red, two-line initials in burnished gold on divided grounds of pink and blue patterned in white, similar four- and five-line initials leading to bars in burnished gold and pink and blue patterned with white with terminals of burnished gold disks on hairline tendrils, THIRTEEN LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS WITH BARS AND FULL BORDERS, of small flowers, leaves and disks in gold and colours on hairline tendrils, SIXTEEN FULL-PAGE MINIATURES WITH BORDERS TO THREE SIDES (lacking one leaf before f.16 and probably two tipped-in miniatures before ff.31 and 34,slight wear to some miniatures and to margins, tarnished silver and smudging to miniature f.51v). Late 16th-century brown calf over pasteboard, with initials H and W on each cover (lacking two ties, slight wear, repaired by Roger Powell for Major J.R. Abbey). Grey cloth box, spine in brown morocco gilt.
(a) Text and decoration show this to be one of the many books made in Flanders, probably Bruges, for export to England. The use is Sarum with English saints in Calendar and Litany alongside saints favoured in the southern Netherlands. St Thomas Becket is in red on 29 December, as are Remy and Bavo on 1 October. The feast of St David, made universal in the English Church in 1415, appears at 1 March. Edward Martyr and Milburga are in the litany with Remy and Bavo. The English saints are southern rather northern but were all widely venerated. (b) THE BOWET FAMILY: in the Calendar are added, in different hands, the obits of Joan Yong, widow, 23 July 14?70 (septuagesimo written in a different hand); Elizabeth, wife of John Bowet, 4 August 141?1 (erasure and addition); Elizabeth, wife of John Bowet, 11 October 1470; Katherine, wife of John Bowet, 4 November 1446; John Bowet, 21 November 1427; Alicia de Neuby, 3 December 1422. An obit could be added at any point and the book is most unlikely to predate 1411 and Elizabeth Bowet's death; it may have been owned by the John Bowet, whose death in 1427 was recorded and who may have been her husband. He has been identified with John Bowet or Bonet, Member of Parliament for Guildford and Surrey between 1385 and possibly 1421, although it is possible that the later references are to his son, also John. The MP had certainly died by 29 August 1425 and his son was still alive in 1429, so that neither of them can be the John Bowet who died in 1427 (see www.historyofparliamentonline.org). The record of Alice de Newby, a place name in Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire, might indicate that these Bowets were connected to the family of Henry Bowet, Archbishop of York 1407-1423, who came from Cumbria. (c) On the second fly leaf is added IN MIDDLE ENGLISH 'amedecyne for the mygrynne'. (d) The feast of Thomas Becket in the Calendar and the miniature and prayer devoted to him were not erased as required by order of Henry VIII, so that the book must have remained in Catholic hands. (e) Bound for someone with the initials HW, conceivably of the family of Wynn of Bodysgallen, Llandudno, Wales; the heiress Margaret Wynn married Sir Roger Mostyn in in 1776. (f) Given by the Rev. Hon. Hugh Wynn Mostyn (1838-1930) to Henry Richard Lloyd Mostyn in 1927, as inscribed on flyleaf. (f) Sale of the late J.L. Mostyn, Bodysgallen Hall, Christie's, 5 April 1967, lot 117a. (g) MAJOR JOHN ROLAND ABBEY (1894-1969): his bookplate on first endleaf, his number J.A. 7377 inside lower cover; sale of his collection, part XI, Sotheby's, 19 June 1989, lot 3016.
Calendar ff.1-6; Memorials to saints ff.8-14: St Christopher f.8, St Thomas Becket f.10, St Mary Magdalene f. 12, St Catherine, f.14; Office of the Virgin, use of Sarum, interspersed with the Hours of the Cross, ff.16-38: matins (lacking opening), f.16, lauds followed by memorials to Sts John the Baptist, Andrew, Lawrence, Thomas Becket, Nicholas, Catherine, Margaret, and matins of the Cross f.20; prime f.27, terce f.30, sext f.31, none f.33, vespers f.34, compline f.36; Prayers ff.40-50v; Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.52-55v; Gradual Psalms ff.55v-61; Office of the Dead, use of Sarum, ff.63-74; Commendation of Souls ff.76-82; Psalms of the Passion ff.84-86v, Psalter of St Jerome ff.88-94v; ruled blank f.95; added prayer in 15th-century hand f.95v (flyleaf).
The miniatures with their gracefully elongated figures are by an illuminator who shared many stylistic traits with the Master of the Beaufort Saints, named from the southern Netherlandish miniatures added to the Beaufort Hours (London, BL, Royal 2 A XVIII, see S. McKendrick, J. Lowden, and K. Doyle, Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination, 2011, no 25). Dubbed the Master of the Tall Figures, he is also distinguished by his rich colouring, adding reds to the pinks and blues favoured by the Beaufort Group and setting goldagainst black, as on f.51v. To represent his work, the present lot was one of only two non-exhibited items illustrated in the catalogue of the ground-breaking exhibition of pre-Eyckian illumination, Vlaamse Miniaturen voor Van Eyck, M. Smeyers ed., Leuven 1993, p.81.
Miniatures by the Master have been identified in a second Sarum Book of Hours -- Cambridge, Trinity College, ms B 11. 14 (N. Morgan and S. Panayatova, A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges, Part I, vol. ii, 2009, pp. 60-62) -- and in another, smaller Hours from the Abbey Collection (Sotheby's. 9 June 1989, lot 3017). Pinpointing individual hands is difficult when the group shared compositional patterns and collaborated with the same scribes and border decorators. The scribe of the present lot also wrote the Trinity College Hours and another Sarum Hours, Ushaw College ms 14; the distinctive miniature borders are found in the Trinity Hours and around Beaufort Group miniatures in the Sarum Hours given to Stonyhurst College, ms 70 (Vlaamse Miniaturen voor Van Eyck, no 20; Sotheby's, 17 June 2003, lot 89).
The Beaufort Group was active in the first two decades of the 15th century; the miniatures in the present lot, datable c.1410, may not have been used until the 1420s, the date suggested by the text pages. There the borders are of a type associated with the Masters of the Gold Scrolls, active in Bruges from about 1420, as seen in a Missal of c.1425 (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, M 374, Vlaamse Miniaturen voor Van Eyck, no 41,; M. Smeyers, Flemish Miniatures, 1999, p.233). The combination of styles in this book is further evidence for the continuity between the Beaufort and Gold Scrolls Groups (see B. Bousmanne and T. Delcourt eds, Miniatures flamandes 1404-1482, 2011, p.130).
The present lot is a fine example of the illuminated books that made Bruges book producers such a presence in the English market, its significance enhanced by having the names of its owners, probably the first purchasers, recorded in its calendar.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
St Christopher f.7v, Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket f.9v, St Mary Magdalene f. 11v, St Catherine, f.13v, the Annunciation f.15v, the Arrest of Christ f.19v, Christ before Pilate f.26v, the Flagellation f.29v, Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and St John f.32v, the Entombment f.35v, the Virgin and Child f.39v, the Last Judgement f.51v, Vigils of the Dead f.62v, God lifting three souls heavenwards f.75v, the Man of Sorrows with the Instruments of the Passion f.83v, St Jerome writing f.87v.