[Rouen, c.1480s]
175 x 125mm, ii + 117 + ii, early foliation 1-26, COMPLETE, 16 lines written in a bâtarde hand in brown ink between two verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 105 x 67mm, text capitals touched yellow, rubrics in red, one-line initials and line-endings in liquid gold on grounds alternately of red or blue, two-line initials in blue on liquid gold grounds with infills of flowers and foliage, four-line initials with white acanthus staves on similar grounds, EVERY WRITTEN PAGE WITH FULL BORDERS of acanthus, flowers and fruit, TWENTY-FOUR CALENDAR MINIATURES of the occupations of the month and religious scenes related to the zodiac sign, SIX SMALL MINIATURES depicting saints in the suffrages, SIXTEEN LARGE MINIATURES WITH BORDERS INCORPORATING SMALLER MINIATURES, fifteen on liquid gold grounds each containing two smaller miniatures, with acanthus, fruit- and flower-sprays enriched by animals, birds and grotesques, one half-page with three smaller miniatures beneath (Hours of the Cross misbound, occasional smudging, particularly in the borders, a few small losses of pigment from miniatures on ff.27, 36, 48, 55, 91, small tear in the margin of f.90). Modern blind-stamped calf.

The Paris Calendar adapted for Rouen use with the feast days of Sts. Martial (July 3), Sauveur (August 6), and Romain (October 23) in gold, the inclusion of Sts Mellon and Vivien in the Litany, and the use of the Office of the Virgin indicate that the book was made in Rouen. The original owner of the manuscript is depicted kneeling beside the Virgin and Child in the miniature preceding the O Intermerata; the added leaves at the beginning include a faint inscription containing the name of an early, perhaps 16th-century owner: '[li]vre isi apartienne a demoiselle de saint leger Louise de Poullain [...]'; acquired from Goodspeed's Book Shop, 1980.

Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel extracts ff.13-18; Obsecro te and O Intemerata ff.18v-25v; blank f.26; Hours of the Virgin, use of Rouen, ff.27-68: matins f.27, lauds (including suffrages) f.36, prime f.48, terce f.52, sext f.55, none f.57, vespers f.60, compline f.65; Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.69-84v; Hours of the Cross: none, vespers and compline f.85r-v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.86-88v; Hours of the Cross: matins, lauds, prime, terce and sext ff.89-90v; Office of the Dead, use of Rouen ff.91-115; Stabat mater ff.115v-117.

A REFINED AND ICONOGRAPHICALLY RICH EXAMPLE OF AN HOURS MADE IN ROUEN, A LEADING CENTER OF MANUSCRIPT PRODUCTION at the end of the fifteenth century. The elaborate decorative program, with its linear compositions, textured gold patterns and emphatically gesturing figures drawing on stock models established by the Master of the Geneva Latini (or Master of the Échevinage de Rouen), is associable with the wide group of Rouen manuscripts discussed by Rowan Watson in The Playfair Hours, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1984, and is the work of at least three distinct illuminators: Robert Boyvin, favored artist of Cardinal Georges d'Amboise, Archbishop of Rouen, whose career is documented between 1487 and 1503; the Playfair Master, responsible in part for the Book of Hours at the V&A (MSL/1918/475) and a follower of the Master of the Geneva Latini.

There are many points of comparison between the present manuscript and the Playfair Hours: most notably the virtually identical quadripartite compositions representing the Four Evangelist (f.13). The presence of scenes from classical mythology in two of the borders -- Nessus abducting Deianeira from Hercules, f.36, and Orpheus and Eurydice, f.55 -- relate this Hours to one also from Rouen sold at Sotheby's, London, July 8, 2008, lot 32, where Orpheus again appears beside the Adoration of the Magi (but the Visitation, where Nessus might have been, is one of several missing miniatures from that manuscript). The popularity of Ovid's Metamorphoses had led to its interpretation as Christian allegory, most influentially in the early 14th-century Ovide moralisé, which was very popular and often illustrated; by the late 15th century this had been joined by a French translation of the more scholarly Ovidius moralisatus of Pierre Bersuire (d.1362). Their content had also circulated indirectly through the work of authors like Christine de Pizan. Orpheus's descent into Hades to rescue Eurydice was taken to stand for Christ's harrowing of hell, while Nessus stands for those who break God's commandments but can be saved through Christ, with whom Hercules was equated for his triumph over death. The presence of such scenes in Books of Hours is extremely unusual.

The iconography of the calendar is equally resourceful and rare. The conventional pairing of scenes representing signs of the zodiac with the occupations of the month is here interpreted through Biblical or apocryphal scenes: Aquarius is indicated by John the Baptist baptizing Christ with a pot of water; Pisces by the whale swallowing Jonah; Aries by the ram provided to replace Isaac as the victim in Abraham's sacrifice; Taurus by the (unseen) cattle specified as aboard Noah's ark; Gemini by Adam and Eve, still joined (as in many representations of Gemini whether both male or male and female) as God forms Eve from Adam's rib; Cancer by the ulcer which afflicted Job from head to foot and which he sat on the dung heap to scape with a potsherd; Leo by Daniel in the lions' den; Virgo by the Assumption of the Virgin (the feast for August 15); Libra by moneylenders weighing coins; Scorpio by Moses leading his people through the wilderness with scorpions (as in Deut. 8: 15) though the drowning of Pharaoh's troops predominates; Sagittarius by a centaur abducting a lady, leaving ?Absalom hanging from his hair (a similar scene can be found in another Rouen Book of Hours at the Morgan Library, MS M.32, f.14v); Capricorn by the roasted kid brought by Jacob to the dying Isaac as part of Rachel's successful plot to disinherit Esau.

The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows:
Quadripartite miniature of the four evangelists; in the borders St. John the Evangelist with serpent and poisoned chalice and a Vision of Virgin appearing for St. Luke to paint f.13; The Pietà; in the borders the Deposition and the Entombment f.18v; The Virgin and Child, with a female patron kneeling; in the borders a group of three angels and Anna and Joachim meeting at the Golden Gate f.22; The Tree of Jesse; in the borders the Temptation of Adam and Eve, the Annunciation, the Marriage of Mary and Joseph f.27; The Visitation; in the borders Nessus abducting Deianeira from Hercules and the Gathering of the Manna from Heaven f.36; The Nativity; in the borders the Shepherds in prayer and Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl f.48; The Annunciation to the Shepherds; in the borders Moses and the Burning Bush and Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers f.52; The Adoration of the Magi; in the borders Orpheus and Eurydice and the three Kings with Herod f.55; The Flight into Egypt; in the borders soldiers interrogating a reaper and Christ's Entry into Jerusalem f.57; The Coronation of the Virgin; in the borders music-playing angels and men gathering around an idol atop a pillar.60; King David; in the borders David and Bathsheba, David and Uriah and David and Goliath f.65; Pentecost; in the borders Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene as a gardener and Christ rising from his tomb f.69; The Crucifixion; in the borders the suicide of Judas and the soldiers casting lots for Christ's robe f.85; The Three Living and the Three Dead; in the borders a woman's death, a funerary Mass and a burial f.91; The Entombment f.115v

The small Suffrage miniatures are on ff.34v, 35, 35v, 36, 36v and 37v.

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