LE TELLIER DE COURTANVAULX HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, c.1460]172 x 118mm. iii paper + 222 leaves + iii paper: 112, 2-138, 14-156, 168, 179(of 8 + ix replacement blank), 18-248, 254, 262, 276, 28-294, 309(of 8 + ix), 15 lines written in dark brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 16 horizontals, ruled in red, justification: 84 x 56mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one-line initials and line-endings in burnished gold on grounds of pink and blue patterned with white, two-and three-line initials in blue or pink patterned in white with foliate infills on burnished gold grounds, EVERY TWO-LINE INITIAL WITH A GOLD BAR AND BORDER TO LEFT MARGIN of fine burnished gold leaves and disks on hairline tendrils between acanthus leaves in gold and blue and sprays of flowers and fruit in pink, blue, green and red, TWENTY-SIX LARGE MINIATURES WITH FULL BORDERS (lacking one leaf after f.136, replaced with blank, damage to head of St Matthew f.17, slight flaking to some miniatures, small offsets on miniature f.62v, staining to lower corner of margin ff.64-65 and to some text ff.179v-180, a few borders with slight wear). 17th-century French red morocco gilt (two worm holes to spine, slightly rubbed). Brown solander box.
1. Illumination and texts indicate that the manuscript was produced in Paris. The Office of the Virgin is for the use of Paris and the Calendar is Parisian, with St Marcel of Paris (26 July and 3 November) and in gold St Genevieve (3 January and 26 November) and St Denis (9 October). These three saints are also invoked in the Litany and there is a suffrage to St Genevieve. Sts Genevieve and Denis are among the tiny yet distinguishable saints in the miniature on f.107. The Office of the Dead follows the use of Paris except that Responses V and VI are reversed. This conforms to no recorded use and may be an error. The prayer Obsecro te is in the masculine, while the choice of saints honoured with suffrages indicates a concern with ill health. A cloth with the royal fleur-de-lys of France is shown behind the coffin on f.155.
2. François-Michel-César Le Tellier, marquis de Courtanvaux (1718-1781): his armorial bookplate inside upper cover, a more elaborate version of the armorial stamp framed by military trophies used on his bindings (Manuel de l'amateur de reliures armoriées françaises, VIII, 1929, pl.1758), above EX LIBRIS D. D. LE TELLIER DE COURTANVAUX; his armorial book stamp with scroll LE MIS DE COURTANVAUX on ff.1 and 221v; French description on f.ii. When ill health caused him to leave his successful military career in 1745, he actively pursued various branches of science: his book collecting was concentrated on science and voyages of exploration. In this he was stimulated by the inheritance in 1764 of the considerable library of his son, Charles-François-César, marquis de Montmirail. The marquis de Courtanvaulx continued to acquire books to form 'one of the outstanding libraries of the age'(op. cit.). After his death it was sold by Jean-Luc Nyon, Catalogue des livres de la Bibliothèque de feu François-César Le Tellier Marquis de Courtanvaux, Paris, 1782, le 4 mars et les jours suivants, who prefaced the catalogue with a tribute to the library and both father and son 'who had no other object in its formation than to satisfy their liking for the Sciences and Arts and to contribute as far as they could to their perfection'. The sale included ten manuscript books of hours, in addition to three more recent ones written by Nicolas Jarry. The Arcana volume was lot 41, distinguished as 'très bien conservées'.
3. Charles Barclay of Bury Hill, Dorking, Surrey (1780-1855): his armorial bookplate inside upper cover of Barclay impaling Kett, for his wife Anna Maria Kett, whom he married in 1804; inscribed 'Charles Barclay Bury Hill' on verso of front flyleaf. Bury Hill, bought in 1812 by Charles's father, Robert (1751-1830), with a fortune acquired from his brewery in Southwark, was famed for its gardens; the family owned some fine manuscripts in addition to the Arcana volume: an hours illuminated in the workshop of the Master of Claude of France has the bookplate of Robert Barclay of Bury Hill, presumably Charles's grandson and heir of line (1837-1913), which was sold at Sotheby's, 25 June 1985, lot 104.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel extracts ff.13-20v; Hours of the Virgin, use of Paris, interspersed with the Hours of the Cross and Holy Spirit ff.21-99: matins of the Virgin with nine lessons f.20, lauds of the Virgin f.43, matins of the Cross f.53v, matins of the Holy Spirit f.55, prime of the Virgin f.56v, of the Cross f.62v, of the Holy Spirit f.63v, terce of the Virgin f.65, of the Cross f.69, of the Holy Spirit f.70, sext of the Virgin f.71, of the Cross f.75, of the Holy Spirit f.75v, none of the Virgin f.77, of the Cross f.87, of the Holy Spirit f.87v, vespers of the Virgin f.83, of the Cross f.89v, of the Holy Spirit f.90v, compline of the Virgin f.92, of the Cross f.97, of the Holy Spirit f.98v; Sunday Hours of the Trinity ff.99v-102v; Monday Hours of the Dead ff.103-106v; Tuesday Hours of All Saints ff.107-110v; Thursday Hours of the Sacrament ff.111-115v; Saturday Hours of the Virgin ff.116-120v; Passion narrative extracted from John XIX as prelude to prayer ff.121-123; Passion narrative according to John XVIII-XIX ff.123v-133v; Stabat mater and prayer lacking end ff.134-136v; blank replacement leaf f.137; Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.138-154v; Office of the Dead ff.155-197v; prayers including the Seven Verses of St Bernard ff.198-202; Mass of the Holy Spirit ff.202v-205; Obsecro te and prayers ff.205-209v; suffrages to the Holy Spirit, the Cross, the Trinity, the angels, Sts Christopher, Sebastian, Anthony Abbot, Cosmas and Damian, Claude, Margaret, Genevieve and All Saints ff.210-216; prayers to Christ ff.216-218v; prayers to be said at various points in the day, including when hearing the church bells and ending with going to bed ff.218v-222.
The content was individually and systematically planned: standardly if offices are given for the days of the week, they run right through the week; here the Wednesday and Friday Hours of the Holy Spirit and the Cross were omitted because they had already been interspersed with the Office of the Virgin, an uncommon feature in a Parisian Book of Hours.
This meticulously crafted book has an unusual sequence of miniatures. Passion scenes open the Hours of both the Cross and Holy Spirit to combine with the miniatures for prime and vespers of the Cross and the three miniatures for Passion texts to create a Passion cycle, with the rarer Ecce homo replacing the usual Carrying of the Cross, ff.53v, 55, 62v, 89v, 121, 123v and 124. Perhaps confused by this break with convention, the illuminators placed the haunting Deposition from the Cross, f.121, before the animated narrative of the Crucifixion, f.123v.
The soft painterly style of one illuminator is instantly recognisable on ff.43, 56v, 65, 83, 138 and 155 as that of a close follower of the Dunois Master, the Bedford Master's successor as the leading illuminator in Paris, named from the Hours of Jean, comte de Dunois (BL, Yates Thompson ms 3). The Nativity, for instance, is based on that in the Dunois Hours, in turn dependent on that for the Duke of Bedford himself in the Salisbury Breviary (Paris, BnF, ms lat. 17294). The exquisitely fine borders are in the best tradition of the Bedford Workshop.
In some sense, the Master named from two Missals made for Jean Rolin II inherited the Bedford Workshop from the Dunois Master: his greater use of line is reflected in the remaining miniatures. Apparently the work of more than one hand, their distinctive style may also derive in use of gold and patterning from the late work of the Master of the Munich Golden Legend, a frequent collaborator with the Bedford Workshop. The best miniatures, like the Annunciation, f.21, and the Adoration of the Magi, f.71, show a masterly control of detail in terms of technical skill -- a minute shepherdess tending her sheep and a mounted falconer are seen through the Virgin's window, f.21 -- and of the orchestration of complex compositions through patterning of colours and shapes. In the miniature of All Saints, the different ranks of tiny figures are clearly distinguished: the prophets and patriarchs led by John the Baptist and David to the Virgin's right, the Apostles, with Peter, Paul and John the Evangelist on her left, below are the martyrs with Christopher, Stephen, Lawrence and Sebastian, the Confessors with the Four Fathers of the Church, and the Virgins with Agatha, Scholastica, Margaret, Catherine, Barbara and Genevieve, f.107. A less accomplished hand may have provided the miniatures with larger figures, ff.13, 111 and 116. A related hand seems to have contributed the two miniatures on ff.53v and 55.
Despite the sharper definition and feeling for surface decoration that clearly distinguishes this style from that of the Dunois Master, models from the Bedford Master still recur. The Corpus Christi procession is parallelled in the lost Pontifical of the Duke of Bedford and in the Hours of Admiral Prigent de Coëtivy, Dunois's comrade in arms (Dublin, Chester Beatty Library). THIS BOOK OF HOURS SHOWS THE CONTINUING VITALITY OF ONE OF THE MAJOR STYLISTIC TRENDS IN 15TH-CENTURY PARIS.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows: St John on Patmos f.13, St Luke painting the Virgin f.15, St Matthew f.17, St Mark f.19, the Annunciation f.21, the Visitation f.43, the Arrest of Christ f.53v, Christ before Pilate f.55, the Nativity f.56v, the Ecce homo or Christ shown to the people f.62v, the Annunciation to the Shepherds f.65, the Adoration of the Magi f.71, the Presentation in the Temple f.77, the Flight into Egypt f.83, Christ nailed to the Cross f.89v, the Coronation of the Virgin f.92, the Trinity enthroned, Christ as the Man of Sorrows between the persons of the Father and the Holy Spirit f.99v, Funeral Mass f.103, All Saints in the Court of Heaven around the Virgin and the Child f.107, Corpus Christi procession f.111, the Virgin weaving as a girl in the Temple f.116, the Deposition f.121, the Crucifixion f.123v, the Entombment f.134, the Last Judgement f.138, the Office of Dead f.155