ANTIPHONAL OF MARGUERITE DE BACONEL, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[South Flanders, 1539-42]
202 x 135mm., 178 leaves including 3 at the front and 3 at the end added by 1542, in addition to added paper leaves at end, COMPLETE, collation: 13, 2-168, 176, 18-228, 234+1, 244, many catchwords and signature marks, original foliation on gatherings 2-23 runs 1-175 jumping 127-8 and 166, 7 lines of gothic textura written in brown ink between 7 lines of music on a 4-line stave of red, justification 137 x 85mm., rubrics in red, calligraphic initials throughout, many with cadels into the margin or caricature faces coloured with washes of pink, blue, yellow and green, approximately 150 illuminated initials the height of one line of text and music on grounds of burnished gold infilled with a flower-spray, one full border of fruit and flowers on a gold ground, EIGHT LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS WITH FULL BORDERS of similar type, 18th-century sheepskin stamped with a mottled design, printed floral endpapers, edges gilt, in a brown quarter morocco cloth case gilt.
1) Marguerite de Baconel, nun at the Carthusian convent of Mont-de-Ste-Marie, Gosnay near Houdain in the diocese of Arras. The manuscript was written and illuminated for her between 1539 and 1542. The first section of text ends 'Scriptum 1539' (f.125v.). Some of the calligraphic initials include Marguerite's name and this date. Two scribes made additions to the text and the second wrote a detailed colophon giving Marguerite's name and convent, the year 1542 and his own identity as Loys de Villebecq, Vicar to the nuns.
2) The Carthusian nunnery of Ste Anne in Bruges, the ownership note 'aen de Chartreusinnen van brugge' on the first folio.
3) Nineteenth-century notes in French on the flyleaf include a coded price and 'provenant de Marquier'
4) John Carter Brown Library, Providence, Rhode Island, the gift of Mrs. Jesse H. Metcalf. Sotheby's, 18 May 1981, lot 12.
Antiphonal with Responses and Antiphons for Feasts from the Temporal (ff.1-128v) and the Sanctoral (ff.129-172), with contemporary additions for other feasts (ff.a-c and ff.172-178), and with later additions for the Feasts of Sts. Joseph and Anne on 4 paper leaves at end.
Examples of small-scale illuminated choirbooks for individual use are extremely rare. This manuscript is even more remarkable for being so fully documented an example of late illumination. The presence of the owner's names in scrolls threaded through calligraphic initials - 'Marg' (f.22), 'de Bacoel' 1539 (f.25), 'de bacon' (f.157v) and 'Marguerite de baconel' (f.158) - suggests that Marguerite herself may have written the major part of the manuscript and provided the lively calligraphic initials. A professional artist was responsible for the high quality illuminated and historiated initials. There are similarities in style with the miniatures of a South Flanders Book of Hours written in 1548 (Sotheby's, 24 June 1986 lot 118) but the more telling comparison is with the monumental Antiphonal made for the Cathedral of St. Omer (Sam Fogg Rare Books, Medieval Manuscripts, Catalogue 12, 1989, no. 28). In spite of the grander provenance and scale of the latter manuscript, Marguerite de Baconel had her Antiphonal more extensively illuminated and provided with a greater number of historiated initials.
THE SUBJECTS OF THE HISTORIATED INITIALS ARE:
folio 1. Adoration of the Christ Child by Virgin and Joseph, an Angel flying above, classical ruins behind.
folio 22v. Marriage of the Virgin.
folio 84. Three Maries at the Empty Tomb.
folio 98. Pentecost.
folio 103v. Sacramental wafer above a chalice held by two angels.
folio 129. Processing bishop and choir dedicating the church.
folio 146. Virgin surrounded by metaphors of the Virgin, for example, the rose without thorns, the lily and the enclosed garden.
folio 156v. All Saints.