BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[The Marches, probably Camerino, 1460s]113 x 74 mm. iii paper + 108 + iii paper leaves: 112, 29(of 8 + i with miniature), 3-88, 99(of 8 + iii with miniature, 10-128, ?132, ?144, framed catchwords at right of lower margins of central versos, ff.21-61, and in centre, ff.78-94, COMPLETE, 18-20 lines written in black and brown ink in an Italian bookhand between two verticals and 18-20 horizontals ruled in metalpoint, rubrics in red, not executed from f.86v, text capitals touched red ff.1-71 and yellow from f.73, one- and two-line initials in red, one flourished in blue f.92v, one blue initial f.103v, two historiated initials on burnished gold grounds with borders of large acanthus fronds and gold disks, seven large initials with chequered infills on burnished gold grounds, one with the Dove, with full borders of curling acanthus enlivened by putti, animals and grotesques, FIVE FULL-PAGE COLOUR WASHED MINIATURES WITH LIQUID GOLD (opening and final folios wormed, trimmed just into calendar text and some borders, some slight rubbing). 19th-century brown morocco gilt, spine in four compartments gilt, signed F. Bedford (upper corners slightly bumped).
The calendar and litany show that the manuscript was made for a patron in the Marches, probably Camerino: in red in the calendar are Sts Ansovinus, Bishop of Camerino (13 March), Venantius, patron of the city and diocese of Camerino (18 March), Cyriacus, Bishop of Ancona (4 May) and Anatolia, whose relics gave her name to modern Esanatoglia to the north of Camerino (6 July); in the litany Venantius and Cyriacus are joined by Liberius, the second patron of Ancona. The sequence on the Cross, ff.89v-101, may also reflect a local cult, since Cyriacus of Ancona was identified with Judas, the Jew who converted after helping St Helena to discover the True Cross. Camerino flourished in the 15th century under the rule of the Varano and this elegant book could have been made for a member of the ruling family or their court. The scribal colophon, f.71, gives no name -- 'Laus deo. pax.vivis et requiem defunctis. Manus scriptoris benedicatur omnibus horis. Amen' -- and the date of 1450 above the miniature of St Jerome, f.103, is unlikely to be the date of execution. It is written in gold, as is the saint's name, as 'moccccoL an[n]no gibilei' to commemorate the year of the papal jubilee in 1450.
Sir Henry Hope Edwardes, Bart (1829-1900): armorial bookplate inside upper cover
Calendar, ff.1-12v; Office of the Virgin, use of Rome, ff.14-55: matins f.14, lauds f.20, prime f.26v, terce f.29, sext f.31l, none f.33, vespers f.35, compline f.40, variants through the year f.43v; ruled blank f.55v; Office of the Holy Spirit ff.56-71; ruled blank f,71v; Penitential Psalms and Litany with prayers ff.72-88v; ruled blank f.89; prayers to the cross incorporating the Invention of the Cross taken from St Ambrose De obitu Theodosii (CSEL, 73, p.362) ff.89v-101; ruled blanks ff.101v-102v; prayer to St Jerome f.103v; Office of the Cross ff.105-107; ruled blanks ff.107v-108v (unfoliated).
The miniatures are clearly intended as aids to devotion supplementing the texts. Gold inscriptions eternalise the invocations of the devout -- ave virgo and avemaria gratia plena on f.13v and ave yh[es]u christe on f.72 - or label the subjects rex Davit profeeta f.72v, S Jeronimus f.103. Only the Crucifixion miniature has a light frame in gold; the others are simply delimited by the page, enhancing the delicacy of the technique of applying soft pink, blue, green and liquid gold to leave the vellum exposed to act as the highest tone. Red is used for the cardinal's hat of St Jerome and, more startlingly, for the radiance around the monogram of Christ, as in the symbol of St Bernadino, and the blood pouring from the crucified Christ. The generally subdued colouring and subtle lines of the miniatures contrast with the richness of the historiated initials and borders where strong blues, pinks, greens and reds are set against burnished gold. The miniatures reflect the grace and delicacy of figures in the paintings of Arcangelo di cola, who was recorded as active in Camerino from 1416-1429.
Apart from ff.13v and 73, where there are historiated initials, the borders are peopled by delightful putti with rainbow wings who play and fight, with each other and with a range of splendidly inventive beasts and grotesques. The bright palette and some of the forms relate to manuscript illumination in Siena, although interpreted with a playful and novel fantasy.
The miniatures are as follows:
f.13v The Virgin and Child enthroned; f.72 Monogram of Christ incorporating a crucifix; f.72v David enthroned; f.103 St Jerome at his desk with the lion; f.109v Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and St John
The historiated initials are as follows:
The Virgin and Child f.14, the Dove of the Holy Spirit f.56, David f.73.