BOOK OF HOURS, use of Angers, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
181 x 135mm. ii (i as pastedown) + 186 + ii leaves (ii as pastedown): 112, 2-58, 66(of 8, lacking vii + viii), 7-118, 126, 13-148, 1510(of 8, ix +x singletons), 16-238, 12 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 13 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 93 x 58mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one- and two-line initials of burnished gold on blue or dark pink grounds with white tracery and infills of the contrasting colour, similar line-endings, three-line initials with dark pink or blue staves with white decoration and ivy-leaf sprays in the infills against burnished gold grounds, fifteen full-page borders of hairline tendrils with terminals of painted flowers and burnished gold leaves with vertical bar baguettes with large flower and acanthus terminals and one similar three-sided border with single bar baguette, THIRTEEN LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES accompanied by decorated baguettes and full-page borders of hairline tendrils and flower and acanthus sprays (some leaves partially detached, a few repaired, loss to margin of f.1, small hole to margin of f.2, unobtrusive scored line across f.36v, some rubbing to most miniatures, a few with losses of pigment). French 17th-century calf gilt with triple fillet border with a flower at each corner, the spine in six compartments, red morocco lettering-piece in the second, with foliate and floral tooling (worn, spine cracked, worm-hole to upper cover). Modern slipcase and box.
1. The style of illumination suggests that the manuscript was made in Angers, while the liturgical evidence shows that it was intended for a local client. The Hours of the Virgin are for the use of Angers; St Renatus appears in red in the Calendar and Renatus, Maurilius, Albinus and Magnobod are among the saints in the Litany. The Obsecro te is in the masculine.
2. Guillaume Prevoust and his wife Jeanne Miret: partially erased records of the births of their children between an erased date, followed by 1443, and 1449 (February 1448 o.s.) were added to f.186v and retranscribed on the added leaf facing. The first two original entries do not appear to have been made at the same time. The second child, Isabeau, was named for her godmother, the Queen of Sicily, Isabel of Lorraine, wife of René, Duke of Anjou and from 1434 King of Sicily. In 1442 René had abandoned Sicily to his rival Alfonso of Aragon and returned to his lands in France. Isabeau's godfather was Monsieur de Beauvau, probably Louis of Beauvau, one of René's closest associates and author of the Pas d'armes de la bergère of 1449, a text illuminated by the Master of René of Anjou, identified with Barthélemy d'Eyck. Godparents of the other children are less exalted, although in 1446 they included the juge de la prevoste d'Angers and the wife of the lieutenant of Angers, and it is possible that one or both of the couple may have been attached to the households of the Duke or Duchess of Anjou.
3. Louis Gaspard Joseph de Clermont-Gallerande: ownership inscription on front pastedown, 'De La Biblioteque De Louis Gaspard Joseph De Clermont Gallerande Ancien Chef Descadron Au Regiment de Cavallerie D'Orleans', in an early 18th-century hand. The Clermont-Gallerande originated in Maine; by the eighteenth century the Marquis de Gallerande had risen to high office in the service of the Duke of Orléans.
4. Handwritten notes by a previous French owner tucked inside upper cover.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel Extracts ff.13-20v: John f.13, Luke f.15, Matthew f.17, Mark f.19; Office of the Virgin ff.21-91v: matins f.21, lauds f.36v; Hours of the Cross: matins ff.51-2; Hours of the Holy Spirit: matins ff.52v-53; prime of the Virgin f.54, of the Cross f.61v, of the Holy Spirit f.62; terce of the Virgin f.63, of the Cross f.67v, of the Holy Spirit f.68; sext of the Virgin f.68v, of the Cross f.72v, of the Holy Spirit f.73; none of the Virgin f.74, of the Cross f.78, of the Holy Spirit f.78v; vespers of the Virgin f.79v, of the Cross f.83, of the Holy Spirit f.83v; compline of the Virgin f.84, of the Cross f.90, of the Holy Spirit f.91; Obsecro te ff.92-96v; Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.97-122v; Office of the Dead ff.123-172; Suffrages ff.172-186: to Sts John the Baptist f.172v, John the Evangelist f.173, Andrew f.173v, Sebastian f.174v, Lawrence f.176v, Julian f.177, Martin f.177v, Mary Magdalene f.178v, Katherine f.179, Margaret f.180, Apollonia f.180v, Anne f.181v, Agatha f.183, Cecilia f.184, to Peace f.184v, All Saints f.185.
The distinctive and vivid miniatures are important datable examples of manuscript illumination in Angers, which had become an active centre of book production by the mid-15th century. The return of King René and the Angevin court from Naples in 1442 gave new impetus to the city's importance as a commercial and cultural centre. In the miniatures, the expressive attitudes of the long-limbed, narrow-headed and angular figures resemble those of the Master of Charles of Maine, named from two manuscripts illuminated for René of Anjou's younger brother, the Count of Maine (Paris, BnF, lat.6749A and Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 968; for Angevin illumination see F. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520, 1993, pp.104-127). While the decorative and expressive elongation of the human form probably derives from the Rohan Master, both the Master of Charles of Maine and the illuminator of the Prevoust Hours seem to have learnt much from the Parisian Bedford Master. In the Prevoust Hours Elizabeth at the Visitation follows a standard Bedford Master type, as does the landscape with a windmill set against a starry sky. Unusually St John appears in the dress of a contemporary scholar, perhaps indicating a painter as yet unpractised in the routine illustration of Books of Hours. The Master of Charles of Maine has so far been charted in the two decades from around 1450: whether or not the Prevoust Hours can be considered an early work from his hand, they show that traits evident in his work were current in Angers by about 1440.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 John writing in his study
f.63 Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.68v Adoration of the Magi
f.74 Presentation in the Temple
f.79v Flight into Egypt
f.84 Coronation of the Virgin
f.97 David praying
f.123 Cleric sprinkling holy water on coffin in church