BOOK OF HOURS, use of Sarum, in Latin [Flanders, perhaps Ghent, c.1460-75, and ?eastern France, c.1480]
An archetypal example of the Books of Hours produced in Flanders for the English market, with illumination by local artists – working here in the style of the Masters of the Beady Eyes – while English liturgical observances shape the text.
(1) The illumination points to a Flanders production, with the liturgical use and choice of saints for the calendar and litany signalling its ultimate destination, the English market. That the name of St Thomas Becket is intact in the calendar and suffrages suggests the volume may not have reached England or that it may have been in recusant ownership at the time of the Reformation (2) MAURICE BURRUS, no 53.
Inserted frontispiece miniature f.1; Calendar ff.2-7; Suffrages ff.8-17; Fifteen Oes of St Brigid ff.17v-24; Hours of the Virgin, with suffrages at the end of Lauds ff.25-63; Penitential Psalms ff.64-73; Litany ff.74-79; Office of the Dead ff. 80-104; devotions to the Cross, Christ’s Wounds, the Virgin and St John ff.105-108.
The miniatures are in the style of the Masters of the Beady Eyes (Maitres aux Yeux-Bridés), named from their distinctive manner of delineating eyes with firm dark lines and a beady dot. Although their work relates to that of the earlier Masters of the Gold Scrolls, localised to Bruges, the Masters of the Beady Eyes were active mainly in Ghent in the third quarter of the 15th century. The stylistic and formal vocabulary employed in the miniatures is close to two Books of Hours in Cambridge (Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 142 and Clare College, MS Kk.3.1), with formulaic patterned backgrounds, comparable compositions and a palette dominated by reds, blues and pink recognisable across the manuscripts. The unusual French miniature that opens the manuscript – a full-page depiction of Mark writing his gospel, frontally-presented behind his desk – was inserted at a later stage.
Small miniatures are on ff.8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 12v, 13v, 14v, 15v, 105 (2), 105v, 106 (2), 106v, 107 (2), 107v, 108 (2).
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION AND CONDITION:
188 x 135mm. i+108+i: COMPLETE. 19 lines, ruled space: 123 x 72mm. TEN LARGE MINIATURES with full borders and TWENTY HISTORIATED INITIALS surrounded by borders on three sides (water damage to two miniatures: the Arrest of Christ and Mark writing his gospel). 19th-century brown calf (losses at top and base of spine, edges worn).
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows: Mark writing his gospel f.1; Christ blessing 17v; Agony in the Garden f.25; Arrest of Christ 32v; Christ before Pilate f.46; Christ carrying the cross f.52; Crucifixion f.54v; Entombment f.58v; Christ in judgement f.64; Funeral Mass f.80.