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[Utrecht, c.1425]

124 x 90mm. 176 leaves, including 2 blanks + vellum binding fragment from a 14th-century Breviary: 18, 25(of 8, vi-viii cancelled blanks), 3-118, 124(of 6, v-vi cancelled blanks), 13-158, 168(of 9, i cancelled blank, probably added), 178, 188(of 9, i cancelled blank, probably added), 19-228, 236, 241(of 2, ii cancelled blank), apparently COMPLETE, prickings visible in some margins, 13 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 14 horizontals ruled in plummet, justification: 77 x 49mm, versal initials touched red, rubrics in red, one-line initials on blue with red penwork, one- and two-line initials in burnished gold with elaborate red or black flourishing, three-line initials of burnished gold on blue or red grounds with infills of the contrasting colour, each with one or two bar-borders and accompanying sprays of disks and leaves in burnished gold and green, four large initials with foliate infills on burnished gold grounds with full-page borders of leaf sprays in burnished gold, red, pink and blue on hairline tendrils, NINE HISTORIATED INITIALS WITH SIMILAR FULL-PAGE BORDERS with single and double bar-borders (slight offsetting opposite the cancelled blanks at four openings suggests that prints were pasted on the blanks, slight cropping touching borders, occasional smudges or light stains, face of angel on f.14 smudged, initial on f.90 slightly rubbed, some rubbing to burnished gold). 17th-century vellum over pasteboard (worn, ties lacking).

The saints in red in the Calendar and the style of illumination and flourishing all place the origin of this Hours in Utrecht. St Jeroen, patron saint of Noordwijk and venerated throughout the county of Holland has been added to the calendar (17 August), perhaps for the van der Laen family of Leiden.
Diewer or Dieber van der Laen, daughter of Gerrit van der Laen (c.1480-1568), who moved from Haarlem to Leiden, and wife of Hendrik van Assendelft, the son of Barthout van Assendelft, secretary to the Court of Holland, and Alijt de Vriese Nicolaesdr. He died on 10 February 1573 and was buried in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. His widow returned to Leiden, where she died 19 November 1600 and was buried in St Peter's Church. On f.176, Diewer recorded her husband's death and on f.175v is a record of her death: 'ons moeder Joffrou[w] diwer van der lan veduwe van Jo[n]cker hendrick van Assendelft is in den heere gerust op den negentienden novenbris tuschen negent ende achten Smorgens Anno sestien hondert ende leijt begraven inde piters kerck achter het hoge oulter tot Leiden alwaer wij het graf gekoch hebbe. God geef de zijl rust ende vrede'. They apparently had children, who inherited the book, since these accounts are labeled 'our father' and 'our mother'. Further notes on f.176v record the deaths of Diewer's brother and sister: Joffrou Anna van der Lan weduwe van Joncster Johan van basserode is inder heer gerijst opdy xxix mart Anno sestien hondeet ende ?vijf [in a different hand: 1605] smiddag het half elffs
Jonckheer hendrick van der lan is in der heer geriist opdy ix may Anno xvi c acht ?ontrent negen vrey inder hage ende is begraven tot Voorhout in de capel van der van der Lan
Anna van der Laen married Johan van Bassenrode, drossaert van Montfoort, son of Willem van Bassenrode and Margriete van Montfoort, who had died by May 1601, when his inheritance was settled and Hendrik represented his sister's interests. The inscription gives her death date as 29 March 1605. Her heir, Hendrik van der Laen, b.1537/8 in Leiden, recognized as noble in 1566, married Maria Suys and died in The Hague on 9 May 1608. He was buried in the Van der Laen chapel at Voorhout.
H. F. von Aussem, no 40: his signature in an 18th-century hand on pastedown. If his numbering related only to manuscripts he had a significant collection, of which the following have been identified: a Delft Book of Hours of c.1470, his no 18 (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, ms Mc Clean 97), a German manuscript prayerbook now in The Hague (KB, 134 C 63) and a devotional text (The Cornelius J. Hauck Collection, Christie's, New York, 16 June 2006, lot 136), a 16th- century psalter text from St Amand (Gaebelein collection) and a 15th-century German Missal (McGill University), see de Ricci, Census, II pp.1672, 2205.

Walter Hirst (bookplate, by descent)

Calendar for the use of Utrecht ff.1-13v; Sunday Hours of the Trinity ff.14-22; Monday Hours of the Dead ff.22-35v; Tuesday Hours of Holy Spirit ff.35v-46; Wednesday Hours of All Saints ff.46-54v; Thursday of the Sacrament ff.54v-66v; Friday Hours of the Cross ff.66v-78; Saturday Hours of the Virgin ff.78-89v; prayers to Christ: O ewighe alemachtighe alre coninghen ff.90-96, O alre sueste here ihesus christe die gheseynt biste wt ff.96v-106; prayer to God the Father: Voer die voeten dijnre hoechste almachtighe vader legghe ic ff.106-111, prayers to the Three Persons of the Trinity: O du hemelsche vader aelmachtich god ontferm di over mi arme sondaer ff.111-113; indulgenced prayer to be said before an image of the Virgin: O edel coninghinne der hemeenl ende reyne maghet ff.114-124v; prayer to the Virgin to be said for thirty days: Oc bidde w vrouwe sinte maria doer die vruechde die ghi hadt ff.125-127v; prayer to the Virgin: O maechdelike moeder des almachtigen Godssoen ff.127v-129v; prayer to be said daily to the Virgin to ensure warning of death: O heilighe ende sonder smette maghet ende moeder des levenden gods sone ff.130-136v; prayers to the Virgin: O onbeulekte ende ewelike ghebenedide eenpaerlike... ff.136v-140v, Fonteine der duechden sonder ghelijt ff.141-141v; prayers to St Michael the Archangel: Here god weset mi arme mensche goedertieren ff.141v-144, O sinte Michael heilighe weerde ff.144-145; prayers to St Erasmus: Heer sinte herasmus martelear gods... ff.146-148, the Three Kings: O heilighe drie coninghe Jasper Melchior ende balthaser ff.148-151v, St George: O edele martelaer ende ridder ons heren ff.151v-152v; prayer attributed to St Jerome: Here ihesu christe aendenke huden aen mi endeff.152v-156v; prayers to St Sebastian: O heilighe sebastiaen groot is dijn ghelove ff.157-158, St Mary Magdalene: O heilighe maria magdalena ff.158v-159v, St Barbara: Siet en wise ionfrouwe ff.159v-160v; blessings, marked for signing with the cross: Die keiserlike moghentheit gheven... ff.161-162, Die benedixi des vaders... ff.162-163v; prayers to one's guardian angel: Ic bidde u heilighe weerde enghel ff.163v-166, Heilighe enghel dien ic bevolen bin... ff.166-167; Seven Verses of St Bernard ff.167-169; added prayers: with indulgence from Pope Boniface: O heer ihesu christe die aen naemste ff.170-171, the Magnificat: Mijn siel maect groot den heer ff.171v-172v; ruled blanks ff.173-175; added van der Laen and Assendelft inscriptions ff.175v-176v.

The illumination is by the Masters of Zweder van Culemborg, named after a Missal made around 1425 for Zweder van Culemborg, one of the contenders for the bishopric of Utrecht (Bressanone, Biblioteca del Seminario Maggiore, Ms C 20, see E. Scheiber, Niederländische Buchmalerei, die Miniaturen des Culenborch-Missales in Brixen, 1992) and a style which dominated Dutch manuscript illumination in the 1420s and 1430s (see H. Defoer et al. eds, The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Illumination, 1990, pp.98-116). The tiny figures follow patterns seen in the Missal, including the very idiosyncratic formula for the crown of thorns, but on this very small scale show a greater use of line to detail and define the soft brush strokes characteristic of the Masters. Size probably also explains the only significant difference from the Missal in the motifs and design of the borders: the wider vertical bars in the Missal are divided into separate bands of gold, pink and blue with white patterning on the pink and blue. All other aspects of the decoration are extremely close to those in the Missal: the shaping and outlining of the large illuminated initials and the penwork of the flourished initials.

The manuscript was perhaps commissioned to accompany a conventional Book of Hours with the full Office of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead. It received a modest yet beautiful programme of historiated initials which follows the Instruments of the Passion through the weekday Hours, irrespective of their subject, then opens a prayer to Christ with the Man of Sorrows and a prayer to the Virgin with a Virgin and Child.

Offsets show that at some point the pictorial content was supplemented by pasting prints to the original blanks opposite ff.14 and 90 and adding new blank leaves to carry prints before ff.114 and 140. These traces offer a fascinating insight into the changing role of the book: from aid to devotion to art object, when the added prints were removed either for a print collector or for a manuscript collector, who felt printed material interrupted the integrity of a finely crafted handmade book.

The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows: angel holding the veil of Veronica f.14, angels holding the Instruments of the Passion: the pillar f.22, the spear f.35v, the sponge f.46, the hammer f.54v, the nails f.66v, the crown of thorns f.78, Christ as the Man of Sorrows standing in the tomb f.90, Virgin and Child f.130.

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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni

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