BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
134 x 90mm. 267 leaves: 16(of 8, i & ii cancelled blanks), 2-36, 410, 5-118, 126, 138, 146(of 8, lacking vi & vii), 158, 163(3 final leaves of ?), 177(of 8, lacking iii), 188, 196, 204, 21-268, 276, 284, 297(possibly of 8, lacking vi), 305(possibly of 6, lacking iii), 317(probably of 8, lacking vi), 327(i a singleton), 33-358, 365(i a singleton), 3710, 384, at least three of the missing leaves with miniatures, 16 lines written in brown ink in lettre bâtarde between two verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 74 x 48mm, rubrics in red, versals alternately of blue and burnished gold respectively flourished red and blue, line-endings of one diagonal saw-tooth of pink and one of blue, two-line initials of burnished gold against grounds and infills of pink and blue patterned in white, three-line initials with staves of pink or blue against a ground on the other colour and with a flowerhead of that colour on burnished gold in the infill, THIRTY-SIX ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES FRAMED WITH GOLD AND ACCOMPANIED BY FULL-PAGE BORDERS with sprays of blue and gold acanthus and naturalistic fruit and flowers interspersed with gold disks, the inner border with hairline tendrils with golden disks and stylised flowerhead terminals of gold with pink or blue (a few miniatures with some small losses of pigment, usually to blue drapery, or smudges, the face of the darker-skinned magus abraded on ff.114 and 199). 17th-century brown leather, spine gilt, with ?18th-century silver filigree clasp and catch, gilt edges (worn, joints restored). Black morocco box.
1. The manuscript was made for a man called Florencius, perhaps a priest, who is named in the prayers to the Cross on f.164: 'ego florencius famulus dei' (f.164). The use of the Office of the Virgin is unidentified and the Office of the Dead is too abbreviated to be precisely localisable, but the style of illumination points to the origin of the manuscript in Bruges, and this is confirmed by the presence in red in the Calendar of the feasts of St Basil (14 June), whose relics are in the Chapel of the Holy Blood, and St Donatian (14 October), principal patron of the city.
2. Margreta van Vossen: her name engraved inside silver filigree clasp.
3. Entries from booksellers' catalogues, two French and one English, pasted inside upper cover.
Calendar ff.1-12; Gospel Extracts ff.13-18v; Stabat mater ff.19-21v; Obsecro te ff.22-25v; O Intemerata 26-28v; Hours of the Trinity for Sunday ff.29-37v; Hours of the Dead for Monday ff.38-47v; Hours of All Saints for Wednesday ff.48-55v; Hours of the Holy Spirit for Tuesday ff.56-63v; Hours of the Sacrament for Thursday ff.64-72v; Hours of the Cross for Friday ff.73-81v; Hours of the Blessed Virgin for Saturday ff.82-90v; Office of the Virgin ff.91-140: matins f.91, lauds (lacking opening) f.104, prime (final leaf only) f.113, terce f.114, sext (lacking opening) f.118, none f.122, vespers f.127, compline f.135; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.141-163; Prayers to the Cross ff.163v-164v; Office of the Dead ff.165-197v; Suffrages to Saints ff.199-220v: Three Magi f.199, James the Lesser f.200, James the Great f.201, George f.202, Lawrence f.203, Sebastian f.204, Erasmus f.206, Anthony f.207, Martin f.208, Christopher f.209, Jodocus f.210, Leonard f.211, Catherine f.212, Drogo f.213, Barbara f.215, Mary Magdalene f.216, Agnes (lacking opening) f.217, Apollonia f.217, Gertrude f.218, for peace f.219, All saints f.220; Prayer of St Augustine opening Dulcissime domine ihesu criste ff.222-231; Mass to the Wounds of Christ ff.231-244v; Psalms to be read after Mass ff.244v-263v; Daily prayer 'moult agreable a dieu nostre seigneur', opening Gracias ago tibi dominie ihesu criste salvator mundi ff.264-265.
Folios 198r&v, 205v, 266r&v and 267r&v ruled otherwise blank.
This Book of Hours is as rich in textual as in illustrative content. In addition to the extensive sequence of Suffrages it includes the cycle of individual Hours appropriate for each of the weekdays (ff.29-90v), a feature more common in Books of Hours from Flanders than elsewhere.
The charming and numerous miniatures of this Book of Hours are populated by the sweet-faced and demure figures characteristic of an illuminator who has been named the Mildmay Master from his work in a Book of Hours in Chicago (Newberry Library, Ms 35): N. Rogers, Books of Hours produced in the Low Countries for the English Market in the 15th century (M. Litt. dissertation, Univ. of Cambridge, 1982). This artist was also responsible for a Breviary/Prayerbook made for Adolph of Cleves and la Marck (Brussels, KBR, Ms ii 56460). He was an associate of Willem Vrelant, one of the most influential illuminators in Bruges in the third quarter of the 15th century, and he collaborated with him on commissions for the Duke of Burgundy and members of his court: B. Bousmanne, 'Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur', 1997, pp.322 and 236-237. The Mildmay Master's debt to Vrelant is obvious in the calm demeanour of his figures and their generalised, attractive faces; his figure-style is, nonetheless, distinctive and individual, and the miniatures in the present Hours are largely populated by stylish handsome blondes often in fashionable 15th-century dress.
There is an obvious relationship in composition and iconography with manuscripts associated with the Masters of the Gold Scrolls -- the illuminators, named after their frequent use of scrolling golden tendrils in miniature backgrounds, who dominated the production of Books of Hours in Bruges from around 1410 to the middle of the century -- and miniatures by the Mildmay Master are sometimes found in manuscripts containing subsidiary illumination by Masters of the Gold Scrolls: for example, Christie's, New York, 8 October 2001, lot 65. It has been suggested that Willem Vrelant took over this workshop shortly after his move from Utrecht to Bruges (M. Smeyers, Flämische Buchmalerei, 1999, p.252). The miniatures of the present Hours show the Mildmay Master's response to this situation: his combination of a polished and elegant figure-style with the decorative compositions and motifs of the earlier illuminators.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 St John on Patmos
f.19 Pietà at the foot of the Cross, with John the Evangelist to the right
f.29 Trinity, with God the Father enthroned holding the Cross with Christ crucified
f.38 Raising of Lazarus
f.48 All Saints, with Peter and Paul in the central foreground
f.64 Adoration of the Host, with a group of fashionably dressed men and women kneeling before an altar with a monstrance
f.73 Crucifixion with the Virgin and John the Evangelist
f.82 Virgin and Child enthroned
f.114 Adoration of the Magi
f.122 Presentation in the Temple
f.127 Massacre of the Innocents, with a man reporting to Herod on the left and a soldier killing an infant in front of its kneeling mother to the right
f.135 Flight into Egypt
f.141 Last Judgement, with Christ on a hillock above the dead rising from their graves, the Virgin and John the Evangelist in the foreground
f.165 Four black-habited mourners around a bier
f.199 Three Magi journeying to Bethlehem
f.200 St James the Lesser
f.201 St James the Great
f.202 St George
f.203 St Lawrence
f.204 St Sebastian
f.206 St Erasmus
f.207 St Anthony Abbot
f.208 St Martin dividing his cloak
f.209 St Christopher ferrying the Christ Child
f.210 St Jodocus
f.211 St Leonard
f.212 St Catherine
f.213 St Drogo
f.215 St Barbara
f.216 St Mary Magdalene
f.218 St Gertude of Nivelles
f.219 Pope censing an altar
f.220 All Saints
f.222 St Augustine enthroned