BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[?Tours c.1470s and Paris, c.1490s]
127 x 90mm. 111 leaves in 15 gatherings mostly of 8 leaves (lacking at least 6 folios, 5 with miniatures), 15 lines written in brown ink in a lettre bâtarde between 16 horizontals and two verticals ruled in dark pink, rubrics in dark pink, one-line initials of liquid gold on grounds alternately of red and blue, two- to four-line initials with staves made up of frondy foliage of liquid gold against red or blue grounds and infills of the contrasting colour with golden sprays and flowerheads, line-endings of similar type, every page with a panel border of blue and gold curling acanthus and sprays of naturalistic flowers and fruit interspersed with gold dots and squiggles and, occasionally, a bird or insect, one full-page border of the same type, FOUR LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES accompanied by full-page borders with sprays of fruit, flowers and acanthus on grounds of liquid gold (opening folio: slight rubbing of outer and lower border and small pigment loss to cloud in miniature). English 19th-century straight-grained red morocco gilt and stamped in blind, spine gilt in five compartments, tools used include interlocked C, gilt edges (head and foot of spine rubbed).
1. Cutting from an English sale catalogue, apparently of 18 January 1906, pasted to front flyleaf
2. Charles Butler, collector of pictures and books, whose fine library was sold in five sales between May 1911 and July 1921: the present manuscript lot 2379, Sotheby's 19 March 1912, cutting from catalogue pasted to front flyleaf
Seven Penitential Psalms ff.1-15; Litany ff.15v-21v; Obsecro te ff.22-26v; O Intemerata ff.27-29 (lacking final folio); Office of the Virgin ff.30-110v with abbreviated Hours of the Crucifixion and Holy Spirit following each Hour from prime: matins f.30 (lacking opening folio), lauds f.56, prime f.68 (lacking opening folio), terce f.77, sext f.84 (lacking opening folio), none f.90 (lacking opening folio ), vespers f.95 (lacking opening folio), compline f.104
Presumably the manuscript originally also contained a Calendar, Gospel Extracts and Office of the Dead.
The decoration and illumination of this manuscript appears to have been undertaken in two campaigns: both of high quality. The initials are in the style named by Gregory Clark as belonging to the Master of the Lacy Initials; such initials are usually found in manuscripts illuminated in Tours, most commonly those by the Master of Jean Charpentier: see for example the Book of Hours sold in these rooms 29 June 1994, lot 38. This painter was active in the 1470s and this seems likely to have been the date when the exquisite, delicate borders were provided throughout the text pages of the manuscript; these too conform with illumination in other manuscripts produced in Tours. The border on folio 1, unlike the borders surrounding the other miniatures, are of the same type as the panel borders except that a ground of liquid gold replaces the bare parchment, and shadow-casting pearls are substituted for the golden disks.
All four miniatures and the other three full-page borders are, in contrast, clearly later in style: they are confident, colourful and attractive examples of Parisian illumination of the final decade of the 15th century.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.1 David slaying Goliath with the armies of the Philistines in the background
f.77 Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.104 Coronation of the Virgin