ANNUNCIATION, historiated initial on a leaf from the Ghistelles Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
120 x 79mm. Recto and verso with 11 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 12 horizontals ruled in brown, justification: 45 x 62mm, rubric in red, line-ending in blue with animal-head terminal, 3 one-line initials, two in blue with red flourishing, one in burnished gold with blue penwork decoration, 2 two-line initials, one on recto with a blue stave on a dark pink ground with gold border, the infill inhabited by a hare, the other on verso in pink on a patterned blue ground, the infill with a female head, a LARGE HISTORIATED INITIAL with a dark pink and gold stave on a diaper-patterned blue ground with orange dots, with long branching full-page borders of pink, blue and burnished gold with vine-leaf finials, incorporating birds and animals, and supporting two jousting monkeys on horseback, the verso with similar three-quarter branching border incorporating an orange fox and horn-playing figure (some rubbing to recto, with loss of pigment and gold).
This was the opening of the Office of the Virgin, arguably the most important leaf, from the Ghistelles Hours. Various leaves from this manuscript, one of the earliest Flemish Books of Hours, were sold by or through Heinrich Eisemann in the 1950s and are now dispersed in public and private collections: see C. de Hamel in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections, 1989, pp.91-21 and Sotheby's, 1 December, 1998, lots 17-19. The present leaf is not included among them and is apparently unpublished. Other leaves provide the evidence for the book's origin in Flanders around 1300, and its original ownership or association with John III Ghistelles (d.1315), Lord of Ghistelles and Ingelmunster. Rosy Schilling identified the manuscript, already fragmentary, as having belonged to Sir Sydney Cockerell: it is likely that the inventory number 739 on the present leaf was added after its separation from the Calendar.
THE CALLING OF SAINTS ANDREW AND PETER, in an initial D, cut from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT GRADUAL ON VELLUM
[Italy, 14th century]
This attractive, though worn, initial opened the introit Dominus secus mare galilaeae of the Mass for the Vigil of the Feast of St Andrew (29 November). (2)