BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in French and Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
165 x 127mm. i + 158 + i leaves, modern foliation in pencil 1-158 followed here, line-endings in burnished gold on pink and blue grounds patterned in white, one-, two- and three-line initials in burnished gold on similar grounds, one extending into a partial vine-leaf border, TWELVE LARGE MINIATURES WITH FULL BORDERS, one other initial with full-page vine border (lacking the opening and probably a miniature from the Office of the Dead, some marginal cropping and smudging affecting borders, slight rubbing and smudging to some miniatures and their facing text leaves, occasional fading of text). 18th-century French red leather gilt (edges slightly scuffed).
The style of illumination, liturgical use and the saints in the Calendar all demonstrate the origin of the manuscript in Paris. Prayers are in the masculine.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel extracts ff.13-6v; O Intemerata, in French, ff.17-20v; The Office of the Virgin, use of Paris ff.21-82; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.83-94v; Litany and prayers ff.95-9v; The Hours of the Cross ff.100-4; The Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.104v-8; Fifteen Joys of the Virgin Mary and Prayers on the Five Wounds of Christ, in French, ff.108v-15v; Office of the Dead ff.116-58; prayer to the Virgin beginning 'Glorieuse dame de bonne grace...' added in a 16th-century hand on f.158v.
A STRIKING BOOK OF HOURS BY THE BOUCICAUT MASTER AND HIS WORKSHOP. The intense blues, vibrant oranges and bright pinks are typical of the Parisian palette of the early 1400s, as are the delicate borders of burnished gold leaves on hairline tendrils. The miniatures in the present manuscript are evidently by the Boucicaut Master, the foremost illuminator in Paris at the turn of the fifteenth century, and his workshop. The figures with complex draperies forming elegant, slender silhouettes are set against colourful diaper grounds, as in the Boucicaut Hours itself (Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André Ms 2) and present scenes with texture and vivacity.
The simple settings in the present manuscript act as a foil to the carefully modelled and ambitiously posed figures. The Master's hand is particularly evident in the twisting bodies of the shepherds on f.58v and in the subtle modulations of the graceful group of the Virgin and Child with the Magi on f.62v. The beautiful Virgin and Child on f.108v seems stylistically distinct, while following the same conventions.
While working for the most important patrons, such as Charles VI, and John, Duke of Berry, the Master also produced a number of Books of Hours for the open market. The present manuscript, with its prayers in Latin and in the vernacular (the 'O tres enternie et perdurablement benoite singuliere non comparable Vierge Marie...' being a particularly uncommon instance) constitutes a fascinating example of how the Boucicaut Master and his workshop catered for their clientele by a flexible range of standard texts which could be personalised for the wealthier or more demanding purchaser. It is a most attractive example of the books which made him such an influential figure in Parisian illumination, an influence which spread, with his designs, throughout France and into the Netherlands.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.58v Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.62v Adoration of the Magi
f.67 Presentation in the Temple
f.71 Flight into Egypt
f.77v Coronation of the Virgin
f.83 God Enthroned
f.100 Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John the Baptist
f.108v Virgin and Child