BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
215 x 142mm. 187 + ii leaves: 1-26, 38, 4-98, 102, 11-138,
142, 158(originally 8 + i, now lacking vi), 167(of 8, lacking i), 17-258, 268(v-vii blank, viii pastedown), later foliation ff.1-195, followed here, includes two paper guards and omits ff.55, 65, 97, 102, 106-7, 128, vertical catchwords on final versos of each gathering, 18 lines written in brown ink in a lettre bâtarde between two verticals and 19 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 108 x 66mm, rubrics in red, one-line decorated initials in liquid gold on alternate grounds of blue and red, similar line-endings, two- to three-line initials and two five-line initials with blue or red staves with white decoration on liquid gold grounds with infills of flowers, A PANEL BORDER ON EVERY PAGE with blue and gold acanthus scrolls and sprays of flowers and fruit on variously divided fields of liquid gold or parchment inhabited with birds, creatures and grotesques, ONE HALF-PAGE AND TWENTY-EIGHT SMALL MINIATURES and ELEVEN FULL-PAGE MINIATURES IN ARCHITECTURAL FRAMES OF CAMAïEU D'OR inscribed with incipits, on marbled grounds of purple, red or green (lacking two leaves, probably with miniatures, some losses of pigment, most noticeably to the face and hands of John the Baptist on f.13, drapery of the Angel on f.25 and the outer borders or incipits on some miniatures, occasional smudging, including the background of the suffrage miniature on f.178v, small tear at inner
lower margin of f.56, upper half of textblock split at f.86).
Old red velvet (raised bands on spine rubbed). 20th-century morocco-backed cloth box.
1. The style of illumination places the origin of this Hours in Lyons. The full calendar is for widespread use, although of note is St Annemundus, bishop of Lyons (28 September).
2. Jean-Baptiste Dessaignes: an inscription on the front endleaf, 'Ex bibliotheca Ioan. Bapt. Dessaignes MDCLXI' and a note in the calendar on 29 October records the date of his birth, 1630.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel extracts ff.13-19; Obsecro te ff.19-22v; O Intemerata ff.22v-24v; Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome, ff.25-87: matins f.25, lauds f.44, prime f.56, terce f.60v, sext f.66, none f.70, vespers f.74v, compline f.82; with variants for the liturgical year ff.87v-96v; Hours of the Holy Cross ff.98-101; Hours of the Holy Spirit (lacking opening) ff.103-105; Seven Penitential Psalms (lacking opening) and Litany ff.108-127; Office of the Dead, use of Rome ff.128v-169; suffrages, ff.169v-192.
This striking manuscript was illuminated by Guillaume II Leroy, one of the most prolific and sought-after Lyonnais artists of his day. Guillaume, often specified 'flammand' or 'peintre', is recorded in the city archives from 1493 to 1528. He was the son or nephew of Guillaume Leroy of Liège, who in 1473 was the first printer practising in Lyons. The linking of the name with an oeuvre resulted from the recognition that the documented career of Guillaume II corresponded to the dates of editions printed in Lyons with woodcuts attributed, until then, to a Mâitre au Nombril. It was on the basis of the style of these woodcuts that illuminated manuscripts were also attributed to the artist.
At the time of Guillaume II Lyons was the third capital of the realm and the artist undertook numerous commissions from the courts of Louis XII and François I (see Avril and Reynaud, p.357). A series of literary manuscripts show that throughout the first quarter of the 16th century when prominent authors and humanists visited Lyons and the court it was to Leroy that they turned to illustrate their work. His artistry is found for example, in Johann von Morsheim's Chronique des Rois de France written for Louis XII in 1503 (Paris, BnF, All. 84), in Michel Nagonius's celebratory poem, Prognostichon Hierosolymitanum in honour of Pope Julius II (Vatican City, BAV, Vat.Lat.1682) and in three manuscripts by his eminent and exact contemporary, Pierre Sala.
The present manuscript was the first Book of Hours to be attributed to Leroy (see Avril and Reynaud, p.363); in recent years other devotional, as well as secular manuscripts, have been added to his oeuvre: see E. Burin, Manuscript Illumination in Lyons 1473-1530, 2002, p.33 and for this manuscript pp.212-3, no 95.
This richly illuminated and handsome Hours, with it lavish use of gold throughout, bears all the hallmarks of Leroy's style. Large, rather heavy figure types with wide faces dominate each miniature, distant landscapes with tiny towns perched on hilltops are rendered in soft blue tones. The miniature of St John on Patmos in particular shows the artist's characteristic treatment of mid-grounds with mounds covered in dense clumps of trees and scattered tufts of vegetation, all painted in broad brushstrokes. Classicised gold architectural frames inhabited with putti, typical of Lyonnais illumination and familiar from the workshop of Guillaume Lambert, surround each full-page miniature. All are placed on emulated porphyry grounds of green, red, grey or purple, to striking effect. The delightfully rich and varied borders present on every page have been attributed to Leroy himself (see Burin, p.213). Full of invention, they contain carefully drawn naturalistic flowers, fruit, birds, frogs, grasshoppers and grotesques placed upon variously shaped grounds of liquid gold.
The subjects of the full-page miniatures are as follows:
f.25 Annunciation, within architectural frame incorporating fictive sculptures showing scenes from the life of the Virgin
f.60v Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.66 Adoration of the Magi
f.70 Presenation in the Temple
f.74v Flight into Egypt
f.82 Coronation of the Virgin
f.128v Job on the dungheap
The subject of the half-page miniature: Trinity (f.169v) and the small miniatures, St Luke f.15, St Matthew f.16v, St Mark f.18, Virgin and Child f.19, Pietà f.22v, God the Father f.171v, Ecco Homo f.172, Pentecost f.173, St Veronica f.173v, Crucifixion f.175, St Michael Archangel f.177, St John the Baptist f.177v, St John the Evangelist f.178v, Sts Peter and Paul f.179, St James the Greater f.179v, St Stephen f.181, St Laurence f.181v, St Christopher f.182v, St Sebastian f.184, St Nicholas f.185, St Claude of Besançon f.185v, St Anthony f.187, St Anne f.187v, St Mary Magdalene f.188v, St Catherine f.189, St Margaret f.189v, St Barbara f.190v, St Appolonia f.191v.
BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR THIS MANUSCRIPT:
F. Avril & N. Reynaud, Les Manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520, 1993, pp. 357-363.