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Anonymous French artist
Anonymous French artist
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Anonymous French artist

Book of Hours, use of Poitiers, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [France (presumably Poitiers), c.1430s-40s]

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Anonymous French artist
Book of Hours, use of Poitiers, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [France (presumably Poitiers), c.1430s-40s]
Although damaged and incomplete, this volume is of an unusual liturgical use, has significant amounts of text in the vernacular, and its textual disarray would make it an excellent educational tool.

173 × 140mm, iii + 111 + ii leaves, collation impractical: many leaves and gatherings bound out of correct sequence, leaves with miniatures, and probably others, missing, 16 lines per page, illuminated throughout with initials and line-fillers, two large and one full-page miniature (extensively water-damaged, causing staining of many margins, and some text and decoration including miniatures). 19th or early 20th-century leather over pasteboards, each cover stamped with foliate designs and a hunting-dog(?) within a lattice. Modern quarter-calf box with slip-case.

Provenance: (1) Made for use in the diocese of Poitiers: the Prime and None antiphons and capitula indicate this liturgical use, as does the placement of St Hilary first among the confessors in the litany and Radegund third among the virgins (ff.68v-69). (2) Traces of pilgrim-badges on f.1. (3) 15th/16th-century ownership inscriptions on the front flyleaves; crossed-through but possibly legible under UV. (4) Clipping from an unidentified 20th-century Sotheby’s(?) catalogue at the front.

Content: The contents are very disordered, but include: a Calendar in French, with an entry for every day, f.1; Gospel extracts, f.12; Hours of the Virgin, with the Hours of the Cross and of the Spirit intermixed, f.14; the Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany; the Office of the Dead, f.72; the Seven Prayers of St Bernard; Mass prayers, the rubric of one mentioning Pope Boniface VI; suffrages to Sts Barbara, Eutropius (of Saintes, south-west of Poitiers), and Fiacre, and several prayers to St Sebastian (probably in his role as a plague saint) in verse and prose, f. 96, in Latin and French, e.g. ‘O saint Sebastien de cuer piteux […]’; ‘Les quinze ioiez nostre dame’, f.92; Les cinq sens naturelx. Les yeux de veoir […] Les vii peches mortels. Orgueil contre dieu son souverain […] Les vii vertus contre les pechies mortelz. Humilite contre orgueil […]’, f.101v; devotion to St Margaret in French verse, f.108v; and a long series of Latin prayers with rubrics in French; ending on fol.111, the verso blank.

Illumination: There are three surviving miniatures, in two very different styles; the first is perhaps re-used from another late 14th- or early 15th-century manuscript. The subjects are as follows: St Catherine, with sword and palm of martyrdom, within a full foliate border incorporating a fox playing bagpipes, a clown(?) and an archer, f.11v; The Presentation in the Temple f.31; Funeral Service f.72.
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