BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
208 x 143mm. 302 leaves: 1-26, 3-78, 8-96, 102, 116, 124, 13-158, 169(i a tipped-in singleton), 17-198, 204, 213(of 4, iv cancelled blank), 22-248, 256, 26-418, 424, COMPLETE, catchwords at foot of final versos up to f.97v, 16 lines written in black ink in lettre bâtarde, by at least two scribes, between two verticals and 18 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 145 x 82mm, rubrics in pink, text capitals touched yellow, one- and two-line initials of liquid gold on grounds of pink, blue or brown with gold decoration, line-endings of the same colours, three- and four-line initials with staves of blue on grounds of pink or brown with liquid gold or white decoration, after f.100 some two- to four-line initials with curling staves of pink, blue and white against grounds of liquid gold with grotesques or sprays of fruit and flowers in the infills, LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURE and TWO HISTORIATED INITIALS accompanied by FULL-PAGE BORDERS with sprays of fruit, flowers and acanthus against grounds of liquid gold or divided fields and including grotesques and birds (spotting and darkening of first two leaves, small pigment loss to Gabriel's face and slight smudging of border on f.21, offsetting on facing verso).
Late-17th-century French calf over pasteboard, gold-tooled c.1880 to a mid-16th-century Parisian strapwork design. Most of the tools imitate late Renaissance decoration, such as the solid tool of a leaf and the considerable variety of hatched tools, others are inspired by Louis XIV ornament, such as the pointillé tools. An unusually successful bookbinding pastiche.
1. The style of illumination would suggest that the manuscript was produced in Tours, and such an origin is confirmed by the Calendar. Two feasts of Gatian, first bishop of Tours (2 May and 18 December), are included among the major feasts written in blue. He is also included in the Litany, along with Avertinus, the companion of Thomas Becket, who died at Tours. Prayers are in the masculine.
2. De Souvré family: partially erased marginal notes on ff.141-142 appear to record births and baptisms of the children of one branch of this family and 'Monsieur le Marechal' and 'Madame la Marechalle de Souvre' acted as godparents on at least two occasions. Souvré, a loyal servant of Henry III and Henry IV, was governor of the Touraine from 1585 and appointed maréchal de France in 1613. He died in 1626. The baptisms took place in the churches of St Germain l'Auxerrois in Paris and St Saturnin in Tours. The final entry is dated 1632.
3. Society of Jesus, Paris: ownership inscription in an 18th-century hand in the upper margin of the first folio. The inscription 'Colleg. Paris. Societ. Jesu.' shows that the manuscript had once been in the great library of the Jesuit Collège de Clermont, subsequently the Collège Louis-le-Grand. In March 1762 the order was suppressed and all their books were seized and offered for sale in 1764, as authorised by the annotation 'Paraphe au desir de l'arrest du cinq juillet mil sept cens soixante trois', signed Mesnil, in the outer margin of the first folio; the catalogue number 297 appears in the upper margin.
Calendar ff.1-12; Gospel Extracts ff.13-20; Office of the Virgin, use of Paris ff.21-75: matins f.21, lauds f.31, prime f.40, terce f.45v, sext f.49, none f.52v, vespers f.56, compline f.61v; Short Hours of the Cross ff.67-71v; Short Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.71v-75; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.77-95; Office of the Dead, use of Rome ff.95v-140; Hours of the Passion ff.141-170v; Hours of the Compassion of the Virgin ff.171-194; followed by an extensive sequence of Prayers and Devotions to Christ and the Virgin ff.194-242, including the Twelve Joys of the Virgin f.210, two versions of O Intemerata... f.228v and f.233v, Obsecro te... f.237; Passion of Christ according to John ff.243-244v; followed by further Prayers and Devotions ff.244v-267; Gospel Extracts ff.267v-273v; followed by further Prayers and Devotions ff.273v-301v, including Suffrages to St Sebastian f.275 and St Michael f.281.
The manuscript was evidently written in two campaigns. The work of the first scribe came to an abrupt end in the Office of the Dead on the recto of f.101, a single leaf. A second scribe left the remainder of the folio blank and continued the Office on the opening recto of a fresh gathering of eight leaves. This division of work is likely to be the cause of the inconsistencies of content; the fact that there are two sets of Gospel Extracts, that the Office of the Virgin is use of Tours while the lessons and Responses of the Office of the Dead are those of the use of Rome.
Although the type of the subsidiary decoration and illumination is the same in both parts of the manuscript, from f.101 onwards it is slightly broader in execution and seems to be the work of a different craftsman. The large initials with grotesque beasts in the infills are found only in this second section of the manuscript, while the work of the fine illuminator responsible for the historiated initials, miniature and foliate borders is confined to the first hundred folios. His attactive figure style, accomplished finish and use of half- or three-quarter-length compositions show the clear influence of the great Tours artist Jean Bourdichon and the manuscript seems likely to have been produced in his workshop.
The subjects of the miniature and initials are as follows:
f.21 Annunciation, framed as though seen through an arched window embrasure
f.77 King David in Penitence
f.95v Job on the dungheap with tormentors