BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin and french, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1500].
180 x 120mm. 116 leaves, COMPLETE (lacking a calendar, perhaps never supplied): 110, 2-68, 76, 85 (v an inserted miniature), 9-148, 157 (of 8, final leaf a cancelled blank), ruled space: 106 x 61mm, illuminated initials throughout, FIFTEEN LARGE MINIATURES WITH FULL BORDERS and seventeen smaller miniatures within three-sided borders, EVERY PAGE WITH A BORDER (some loss of pigment to opening miniature, especially to figures in the lower margin, occasional light marginal staining and cockling, e.g. to final leaf, but generally in good condition). 19th-century English brown morocco gilt by Francis Bedford (1799-1883).
(1) The use of the Hours of the Virgin and of the Office of the Dead and the style of illumination indicate a Parisian production of c.1500. (2) Gift of JOSEPH WILLIAM DREXEL (1833-1888), banker, philanthropist, bibliophile and trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1889.
Gospel extracts ff.1-5; Obsecro te, in the masculine, and O intemerata ff.5v-9v; Hours of the Virgin, use of Paris, ff.10v-54v; Hours of the Cross ff.55-57v; Hours of the Holy Ghost ff.58-60v; Seven Penitential Psalms and litany ff. 61-73v; Office of the Dead, use of Paris, ff.74-107; Seven requests to our Lord ff.107v-109v; Suffrages ff.110-115v; blank f.116.
The miniatures in the present manuscript are attributable to the Master of Étienne Poncher, named after the French prelate, diplomat and bishop of Paris for whom the Master produced a Pontifical (Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat.956) and a second manuscript entitled Les empereurs de Rome et les roys de France (see I. Delaunay, Échanges artistiques entre livres d’heures manuscrits et imprimés produits à Paris vers 1480-1500, 2000, pp.289-310). Characteristic features of his style are the strong-nosed, ruddy-cheeked, fluffy-bearded old men and the snowy-skinned female figures with lips dotted in red. The manuscript presents iconographic choices – like the miniature with the Tree of Jesse – that were particularly in vogue at the turn of the 16th century. As with many Books of Hours illuminated in Paris in the final decade of the 15th century, the influence of the Master of Jacques de Besançon is clear, and it has been suggested that the Master of Étienne Poncher worked as his apprentice. Particularly close in style to the present manuscript are the Pixerécourt Hours in Nantes (Nantes, musée Dobrée, ms.14; see also P. Charron, ed., Trésors Enluminés des Musées de France, 2013, no 43) and a Book of Hours in New York (Morgan Library, MS H.5; attributed to a follower of the Chief Associate of Maître François).
The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows: John on Patmos f.1; Tree of Jesse f.10v; Annunciation f.11; Visitation f.25v; Nativity f.33v; Annunciation to the Shepherds f.37v; Adoration of the Magi f.40v; Presentation in the Temple f.43v; Flight into Egypt f.46v; Coronation of the Virgin f.57; Crucifixion f.55; Pentecost f.58; David in Prayer f.61; Job on the dungheap f.74; Throne of Mercy f.107v.
The smaller miniatures are on ff.2v, 3v, 4v, 5v, 8, 110, 110v, 111, 111v, 112, 112v, 113, 113v, 114, 114v, 115 and 115v.