BREVIARY, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[north-east Italy, second half 15th century]95 x 60 mm. ii paper + 331 + ii paper leaves: 1-410, 58(of 10 lacking iii and iv), 6-810, 96(of 8, vii and viii cancelled blanks), 109(of 10 lacking i), 11-2310, 249(of 10 lacking iii), 25-3010, 31-328, 33-3410, 353, catchwords in lower margins of final versos, some early and modern signatures, 29 lines in two columns written in a gothic bookhand in brown ink between four verticals and 30 horizontals ruled in brown, rubrics in red, blue paragraph marks, one-line initials alternately in blue and red, two-line initials alternately in blue extensively flourished with red and in red extensively flourished with violet, three- to five-line initials in gold on divided grounds of blue and green or in colours on burnished gold grounds, some with purple and green acanthus leaves extending into the margins, all with burnished gold disks linked by hairline tendrils, eleven large initials of similar type leading to a burnished gold bar termimating in coloured acanthus and burnished gold disks on hairline sprays, one large historiated initial with pink staves on a burnished gold ground leading to a burnished gold bar enclosing the text with a full border of acanthus in pink, green and blue flowing from a renaissance pedestal flanked by two putti (lacking four leaves, some text faded, opening leaf with full border worn, initials on ff.32v, 113v, 193 and 293 rubbed). 19th-century brown leather by James Toovey, his stamp on first added paper leaf (joints split, worn).
The text of the breviary suggests some connection with the Franciscans: in the litany, St Francis appears before St Dominic and St Clare is one of only six virgins invoked, f.75; there are offices for Sts Anthony of Padua and Francis in the sanctoral (Ker, I pp.321-22). Since the feast of St Francis is given with only one lesson and no especial decoration it is unlikely that the book was made for a member of the Franciscan Order. The office of Sts Peter and Paul, however, is marked by especially handsome decoration, f.259v, and each hour of the office of the Virgin concludes with a prayer to Sts Peter and Paul so that the breviary was probably written for someone attached to a church with this fairly common dedication. Apart from Marian feasts, the only other offices distinguished by an illuminated initial are those for Sts Romanus and Laurence, f.277, and Michael f.293. Michael and Laurence were universally revered; the cult of the martyr Romanus, thought to have been converted by St Lawrence, was especially active in Ferrara where some of his relics had been translated in 1143. The style of the illumination would be consistent with an origin in north-east Italy.
Inscription dated 1576, f.225v.
Daniel Rock (1799-1871): engraved bookplate as canon of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Southwark, an office he held from 1852. Rock was an historian of the liturgy, whose pioneering study of the Sarum rite appeared between 1849 and 1854, and an expert in the material remains of the medieval church, who advised Pugin and catalogued artefacts for what became the Victoria and Albert Museum. He may well have purchased the volume from the bookseller James Toovey (1813-1891), who published many of Cardinal Newman's works and was well known in English Catholic circles.
The property of a religious institution.
Liturgical Psalter, lacking two leaves, breaking at Psalm LXXVI, 2, and resuming at Psalm LXXVII, 59, ff.1-74; Te deum, cues of the Penitential Psalms, Litany, ff.74-76v; hymns for selected feasts, including the conversion of St Paul and the Chair of St Peter, ff.76v-84; Temporal, lacking opening leaf, ff.85-225v; Sanctoral, lacking opening leaf, ff.226-303; Communal, ff.303-318; dedication of a church, ff.318-320; Office of the Virgin, use of Rome, ff.320-323v; Office of the Dead, use of Rome, ff.323v-326v; rubrics for celebrating feasts in relation to the calendar, ff.326v-329v; tables for the anthems to be used depending on the day of the week on which Christmas falls, ff.330-331v.