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Master of the Ghent Privileges (active middle third 15th century) and Jacquemart Pilavaine

Book of Hours, use of Rome, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Tournai and Mons, mid to late 1450s]

Master of the Ghent Privileges (active middle third 15th century) and Jacquemart Pilavaine
Book of Hours, use of Rome, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Tournai and Mons, mid to late 1450s]
An exquisite manuscript brilliantly illuminated by the Master of the Ghent Privileges (identified as Jean Ramont the Younger, 'alumineur de livres'), active in Ghent and Tournai, with richly decorated borders attributable to Jacquemart Pilavaine, scribe, illuminator and book-binder, active in Mons.

232 x 155mm. ii + 207 + iii, collation: 13, 25 (of 6, with i likely a canceled blank), 38, 44 (of 8, lacking i-iv, between ff.12–13), 5-98, 107 (of 8, lacking iii, between ff.58–59), 11-268, 2712, 17 lines of text in at least two hands, ruled space: 101 x 67mm., some catchwords survive, prickings occasionally still visible, rubrics in red and some Calendar entries in burnished gold and blue ink, line-fillers in dark pink, blue and burnished gold, illuminated initials throughout, 18 large miniatures within full illuminated borders (lacking five leaves: four leaves between ff.12–13 and one leaf between ff.58–59 with miniature introducing Lauds of the Hours of the Virgin, small restoration in lower right corner of f.11, ink occasionally faded, a few minor stains and slight smudges, but otherwise in exceptional condition with very wide and uncropped margins). 17th-century Parisian gold-tooled olive-brown morocco over wooden boards, with quadrilobular central motif and gilt-tooled sprays.

(1) The manuscript was produced in Tournai and likely made for the use of Mons: among the Saints inscribed in gold in the calendar there are two for the diocese of Cambrai particularly honoured in Mons - St Waudru (patron Saint of Mons, on February 3 and April 9; in red on August 12); and St Vincent (husband of Waudru and abbot-founder of Hautmont and Soignies, on July 4 in gold and in blue on January 22). Other Saints venerated in Tournai and Cambrai are given prominence: Giselnus (October 9), Nicasius (December 14), Aubert, Altegunde, Veronus, Aldetrudis, Landericus, Humbert, Aichardus, Amatus, etc. The illuminator of the miniatures, the Master of the Ghent Privileges, was active in Ghent and Tournai, whereas the scribe, Jacquemart de Pilavaine, was active in Mons c.1445-1464.

(2) Princes de Ligne, their collection at Beloeil (Wallonie, province de Hainaut). A considerable library was housed in Beloeil, boasting a number of important manuscripts. See Félicien Leuridant, La Bibliothèque duchâteau de Beloeil, Bruxelles, Bureau des Annales Prince de Ligne, 1923; see also C. A. Voisin, Souvenirs de la bibliothèque des princes de Ligne à Beloeil, 1839.

(3) H.P. Kraus: his catalogue 117, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts [c.1967-8], pp.31-37. no 10. According to G. Clarke (2000), Kraus purchased this manuscript from the Prince de Ligne in 1967.

(4) Beurret Bailly Widmer Auktionen AG, Basel, 23 March 2022, lot 1.

(5) European private collection.

ff. 1–12v, Calendar, ff. 13–21v, Prayer, Stabat Mater; followed by another prayer to the Virgin Mary beginning 'Cogitanti michi O sanctissima Virgo Mater […]” [first four leaves of this gathering missing]; ff. 22–27, Mass of the Virgin; ff. 27v–31v, Gospel Sequences; ff. 31v–32v, Passion sequence according to Saint John; ff. 33–40v, Hours of the Cross; ff. 41–48v, Hours of the Holy Spirit; ff. 49–103, Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome: matins f.49, lauds f.59 (lacking beginning with miniature), prime f.69, terce f.74, sext f.79, none (with erroneous rubric 'A tierce') f.84, vespers f.89, compline f.98; f. 103v, blank ruled leaf; ff. 104–124v, Penitential Psalms and Litany (ff. 115v–121); ff. 125–125v, Hymn of the Holy Spirit; ff. 125v–127, Eight Verses of Saint Bernard, followed by prayers; f. 127v, blank ruled leaf; ff. 128–172, Office of the Dead, use of Rome; f. 172v, blank ruled leaf; ff. 173–177, Prayer in honor of Corpus Christi; ff. 175–178, Prayers in French; ff. 178–180, Seven Verses of Our Lord; ff. 180–183v, Psalms, rubric in French, Le psalme de le foy; ff. 184–198, Suffrages; ff. 198v–203, ruled blank leaves.

The Master was first identified in 1915 by Friedrich Winkler, and named after a richly illuminated copy of the Statutes and Privileges of Ghent and Flanders made for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy (Vienna, ÖNB, Cod.2583). His style is characterised by dense, spatially ambitious compositions and fanciful landscapes, tubular draperies and rounded, jolly faces. The present manuscript is without a doubt one of the finest examples of his work. In their 2017 study on the Masters of Guillebert de Mets, Vanwijnsberghe and Verroken suggest that archival testimony secures the existence of a Johannes Ramont the Elder, established in Ghent, perhaps identifiable as one of the 'Master of Guillebert de Mets' and his son,Johannes Ramont the Younger, from Ghent who is recorded as an illuminator in Tournai. The Master of theGhent Privileges could very well be the individual named Johannes Ramont the Younger and recorded in thearchives (Vanwijnsberghe in Bousmanne and Delcourt (2012), p.151; Vanwijnsberghe and Verroken (2017),pp. 119–136).

To quote G. Clark: 'This Horae, the Brussels City of God, the Vienna Privileges, the Lille Missal, Walters 719, a leaf sold at Sotheby’s in 1983 (13 June, lot 27), and the Paris Valerius Maximus contain the most fully mature miniatures of the Privileges Master and were most likely painted between around 1453, the post quem for the Vienna codex, and about 1460 the ante quem for the Lille manuscript' (Clark, 2000, p. 214; see also the section entitled: “The Mature Miniatures of the Ghent Privileges Master” (Clark, 2000, pp. 29–37). Following Clark’s study, the manuscripts closest in style to the present ex-Kraus Horae are: Brussels, BR, MS. 9016, Augustine, City of God; Vienna, ÖNB, Cod. 2583, Privileges and Statutes of Ghent and Flanders; Lille, Médiathèque Jean Lévy, MS. 626, Missal of Jean de Lannoy; Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, MS. 719; Paris, BnF, fr. 6185, Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta memorabilia (frontispiece miniature). Clark remarks on the superior quality of this group of codices: 'In the first chapter of this study, I observed that the most spatially ambitious and refined miniatures are found in the Vienna Privileges itself, in the Brussels Aegidius Romanus and City of God, Lille Missal, Kraus Hours, and Walters 719; and on the cutting with Saints Francis and Bernardinus sold as part of lot 27 at Sotheby’s on 13 June 1983 [ …] However, the miniatures in the five Privileges manuscripts with Montois characteristics do not stand alone as a coherent oeuvre, but instead are integral parts of the stylistic continuum that I traced in the first chapter of this study within the body of codices by the Privileges Master, the overwhelming majority of which seem to have been made in the diocese of Tournai. In light of this, it seems more likely that the five manuscripts with Montois characteristics were written an decorated in Mons and then illustrated by the Privileges Master in the diocese of Tournai' (Clark (2000), p. 135 and p. 139).

Recent studies have confirmed that the decorator responsible for the script of these Horae is identifiable with Jacquemart Pilavaine of Mons and the lavish border decoration was certainly made in Mons whereas the miniatures were painted in Tournai, one of the mainstays of the Master of the Ghent Privileges.

Identifiable scribes and decorators are of great rarity and the fact that one can ascribe this codex to the talented Jacquemart Pilavaine is of importance. Jacquemart Pilavaine signed the colophons of three manuscripts commissioned by Philip de Croÿ. One colophon reads: 'Expliciunt les histoires martiniennes escriptes par Jacquemart Pilavaine escripvain et enlumineur demourant a Mons en Haynaut, natif de Peronne en Vermandois' (Brussels, BR, ms. 9069, fol. 274). Esch has also compiled and published archives in which Pilavaine’s trade is described with precision and he is effectively paid as a scribe, decorator of codices ('vignetteur' or 'historieur') and binder (pour l’escripture …, pour avoir enluminé …, pour relier, dorer et armoier …) (see Esch, 2002, pp. 642–643). Clark discusses in his 'Excursus' the borders of manuscripts which contain miniatures attributed to the Master of Ghent Privileges and in particular the present 'Kraus' Hours. In the study dedicated to Pilavaine, Esch signals that the refined border decoration in the present Horae (referred to as the 'H.P. Kraus Book of Hours', sold in 1970) can be compared to other known codices, including Gilles de Rome, Le livre du gouvernement des princes (Mons, circa 1450–1452; Brussels, BR, MS 9043), other listed codices (see Esch, 2002, p. 649) and two other Book of Hours, including Arras, Médiathèque, MS 1030 and Warsaw, BN, MS II. 8005. Also close in style are the borders of a Book of Hours in New York (PML, MS. M.82), which also contains miniatures by the Master of the Ghent Privileges but is datable slightly earlier (in the 1440s): the borders are surprisingly close. The borders are very recognizable, presenting a number of ornamental idiosyncrasies, such as the characteristic treatment of acanthus leaves with colored drop-like fillings at the base of the acanthus before it splits into swirls or such as the varied bestiary and birds (storks, cranes, parrots, peacocks, waterfowls, owls etc) their heads turned over and beaks tucked in their feathers. Texts are framed in thick decorated and patterned baguettes that add to the general impression of lavishness and luxury. Clusters of flowers are set on little “islands” of green earth. A vast menagerie of naturalistic and imaginary animals or grotesques pepper the borders (noteworthy the beautiful dragonfly in the lower border on fol. 33), some perhaps related to models found in engraved works attributed to the Master of the Playing Cards, Germany, c. 1450–1455 (see for example the waterfowl that grasps a knotted snake in its beak, found in the present manuscript on fol. 197) (Clark (2000), pp. 179–180). Clark remarks that the former “Kraus Hours” presented here stand out amongst the known codices of this group attributable to the Privileges Master and his workshop, with a page layout that offers very wide margins and ample marginal ornamentation: “In contrast, all but two of the eighteen half-page illuminations in the Kraus Hours are almost perfectly square and have modestly curved apices. The consequences of those reductions are generous bands of flora in the upper margins and horizontally compressed compositions that sometimes burst the confines of their narrow gold frames” (Clark, 2000, p. 35). A fine example of this overflow of the image outside of the miniature frames is for instance the image of Saint Barbara, interestingly depicted in profile, with the tower extending in the margin (fol. 197).
Bousmanne, Bernard and Thierry Delcourt (eds.). Miniatures flamandes 1404–1482, Paris and Brussels, 2012, see pp. 182–187.

Clark, Gregory. Made in Flanders: The Master of the Ghent Privileges and Manuscript Painting in the Southern Netherlands in the Time of Philip the Good, Turnhout, Brepols, 2000.

Clark, Gregory. 'Made In Flanders and the Master of the Ghent Privileges: A Second Coda', in Jeffrey F. Hamburger & Anne S. Korteweg (eds.), Tributes in Honor of James H. Marrow. Studies in Painting and Manuscript Illumination of the Late Middle Ages and Northern Renaissance, Turnhout 2006, pp. 155–161 and pp. 614–615.

Clark, Gregory. 'Beyond Jacquemart Pilavaine, Simon Marmion, and the Master of Antoine Rolin. Book painting in the Hainaut in the penultimate decade of the fifteenth century', in Manuscripts in Transition. Recycling Manuscripts, Texts and Images, Leuven, Peeters, 2005 (Corpus of illuminated manuscripts, 15), pp. 391–398.

Esch, A. “La Production de Livres de Jacquemart Pilavaine à Mons Nouvelles Perspectives” in Bert Cardon, Jan Van der Stock & Dominique Vanwijnsberghe (eds.), Als ich can. Liber Amicorum in Memory of ProfessorDr. Maurits Smeyers (Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts, 11–12), Leuven 2002, pp. 641–668.

Jezler, Peter (dir.). Himmel, Hölle, Fegefeuer. Das Jenseits im Mittelalter, Münich, 1994, no. 84 [entry written by Bodo Brinkmann]. Catalog for the exhibition held in Köln at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museums.

Kren, T. and S. McKendrick, eds., Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, Los Angeles, Getty Museum / Royal Academy of Arts, 2003. On the Master of the Ghent Privileges, see pp. 258–261.

Pächt, Otto, Ulrike Jenni and Dagmar Thoss, Flämische Schule I (Tafelband und Textband), Vienna 1983.

Pächt, Otto, Ulrike Jenni and Dagmar Thoss, Flämische Schule II (Tafelband und Textband), Vienna 1990.

Vanwijnsberghe, Dominique. De fin or et d’azur, Les commanditaires de livres et le métier de l’enluminure à Tournai à la fin du Moyen Age (XIVe-XVe siècles), Leuven, Peeters, 2001 (Corpus of illuminated manuscripts, 10).

Vanwijnsberghe, Dominique and Eric Verroken. A l’escu de France. Guillebert de Mets et la peinture de livres à Gand à l’époque de Jan van Eyck (1410–1450), Bruxelles, Institut royal du Patrimoine artistique, 2017 (Scientia artis, 13).

Winkler, F. Die Flämische Buchmalerie des XV. und XVI. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1925.

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