Associate of the Master of Cardinal de Bourbon and an anonymous Burgundian artist
Associate of the Master of Cardinal de Bourbon and an anonymous Burgundian artist
Associate of the Master of Cardinal de Bourbon and an anonymous Burgundian artist
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Associate of the Master of Cardinal de Bourbon and an anonymous Burgundian artist
5 More
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Associate of the Master of Cardinal de Bourbon and an anonymous Burgundian artist

Book of Hours, use of Tours, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Tours or Paris?, c.1480s]

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Associate of the Master of Cardinal de Bourbon and an anonymous Burgundian artist
Book of Hours, use of Tours, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Tours or Paris?, c.1480s]
An iconographically exceptional Book of Hours, with dramatic miniatures surrounded by accessory marginal scenes: an exquisite collaboration between two accomplished illuminators working in the ambit of the Master of Cardinal de Bourbon and the Master of the Burgundian Prelates.

132 x 92mm. 97 leaves, 27 lines, ruled space: 75 x 46mm, rubrics in red, every text page within a 3-sided floral border, initials in white on red grounds inhabited by birds, beasts and flowers, smaller illuminated initials in gold on red or blue grounds and line fillers throughout, 24 calendar miniatures with scenes from the Creation to the Life of the Virgin, 18 small miniatures, 15 large miniatures within full borders, several with corresponding panel scenes in the margins and the bas-de-page (lacking matins of the Cross with a miniature, a rubric introduces none of the Cross on f.44v but is followed directly by vespers of the Hours of the Virgin, the text for sext, vespers and compline of the Cross and Holy Spirit continuous with no space for miniatures, sporadic small losses of pigment, e.g. to the face of the Virgin and Joseph on f.31 and particulalry to the opening Calendar miniatures, marginal thumbing, some leaves cropped close to margins). French 17th-century red morocco elaborately gilt, with a wide dentelle, brass clasp and catches (lacking one clasp, edges and spine a little scuffed).

Provenance: (1) The liturgical use of these Hours is for Tours, which is unusual given that the principal illuminators at work are Parisian and Burgundian. The original owner is discretely and diminutively depicted twice: once in gold kneeling before the Temptation of Adam and Eve in the background of the Annunciation miniature; and again in a historiated initial with his guardian angel on f.87v. The manuscript evidently remained in France until at least the 17th century, when it was rebound. (2) Two modern pencil inscriptions on lower pastedown: one in a shaky Arabic hand that reads 'Shedel/Shadal' or 343 in the Abjad numerical system; the second a bookseller's code 'y UTN', possibly Dawson's, of Los Angeles. (3) Private American collection.

Content: Calendar ff.1-6v; Gospel extracts ff.7-10; prayer to the Virgin, Obsecro te, in the masculine, and O intemerata ff.10v-15; Office of the Virgin, use of Tours, with Hours of the Cross and of the Holy Spirit intermixed ff.16-54v: matins f.16, lauds f.23, Hours of the Holy Spirit f.30, prime f.31, Hours of the Cross f.34v, terce 35v, sext f.39; none f.42v; vespers 45, compline 51v; blank f.55; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.56-65; Office of the Dead, use of Tours, ff.65v-85; prayer to Jesus ff.85-86v; suffrages, including prayer to one's guardian angel, ff.86v-95v (f.88 an inserted leaf); prayer to All Saints f.96-97.

Illumination: There are at least two illuminators at work in this manuscript. First among them is a close associate of the Master of Cardinal de Bourbon, an enigmatic illuminator named after a Vie et miracles de monseigneur Saint Louis commissioned in 1482 by Cardinal Charles de Bourbon (Paris, BnF, Fr. 2829). His documented career spans the final decades of the 15th century, and his clients included Catherine de Chourses-Coëtivy, for whom he illustrated, between 1484 and 1496, a manuscript of the Douze Périls d’enfer (Arsenal, ms. 5207); a De Bello Judaico; and an Estrif de Fortune (Chantilly, Musée Condé, mss 1061 and 566). Localising his activity has proved difficult: a Book of Hours formerly in the Siraudin collection is for the use of Mâcon and another now at the Bibliothèque municipale in Caen is for the use of Amiens, whereas other Hours attributed to him are for the use of Paris (Paris, BnF, Lat. 1382; Leeds, University Library, Brotherton ms.5). This accomplished follower, who may even be the Master himself, seems to be responsible for the miniatures of the Annunciation, the Visitation, Pentecost, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Shepherds, Christ before Pilate, the Presentation in the Temple, the Coronation of the Virgin and Christ in Majesty with All Saints. We see similar densely-packed compositions set within rich architectural frames in the Master’s work in the Vie et miracles (especially f.47v) and in a deluxe Hours from the Rosenberg collection sold at Christie's, 23 April 2021, lot 12.The Master's style finds echoes in the work of Maître François, but the richness of his palette and greater sensitivity to dramatic perspective lays the foundations for a whole host of Parisian artists to follow, including the Master of the Chronique scandaleuse and Jean Pichore.

The second illuminator, responsible for the exceptional and startling grisaille miniature of Job on the dung heap opening the Office of the Dead should be situated towards eastern France, perhaps southern Burgundy. He favours more spindly and statuesque figures with domed foreheads, and his style recalls the work of the Master of the Burgundian Prelates, one of the most original and enterprising illuminators of the late 15th century, renowned for his shifting viewpoints showing distant towns, walled cities and varied landscapes, carefully drawn architectural features and figures with calm, meditative faces with down-turned eyes.

The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows: Annunciation, with, in gold in the background, the Temptation of Adam and Eve and the kneeling patron, the Tree of Jesse in the margins f.16; Visitation f.23; Pentecost with Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish in the margins f.30; Nativity with, in the margins, Jesus at the Temple, Virgin at the loom and Jesus making furniture with Joseph f.31; Christ before the High Priest with, in the margins, Judas’ betrayal and the Denial of Peter f.34v; Adoration of shepherds, with Annunciation to the Shepherds in the background f.35v; Christ before Pilate, with, in the margins, the crowning with thorns and Christ carrying the cross f.38; Adoration of the Magi, with the Magi's journey in the margins f.39; Presentation in the Temple f.42v; Flight into Egypt with, in the margins, the Massacre of the Innocents f.45; Coronation of the Virgin with, in the margins, the Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin f.51v; David in prayer with, in the margins, David and Uriah and Bathsheba bathing f.56; Job on the dung heap with, in the margins, the temptation of Christ and Job, a walled city and dead people, all in grisaille f.65v; the Last Judgement, with, in the margins, multi-coloured demons boiling a person in a pot f.68v; Christ in majesty with All Saints f.97.

The smaller miniatures are on ff.7, 7v, 8v, 9v (the first Gospel extracts illustrated with symbols of the Evangelists), 13, 85, 87, 87v, 88v, 89, 89v, 90v, 91, 91v, 92v, 94v, 95, and 95v.
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Julian Wilson
Julian Wilson Senior Specialist, Books, Maps & Manuscripts

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