BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
172 x 119mm. 85 leaves (modern pencil foliation omits 49): 16, 24, 312(of 10, vii and x inserted miniatures), 49(of 8, i inserted miniature), 5-68, 710, 810, 94, 1012, 112(lacking one written leaf, stub either side of final leaf), 21 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 22 horizontals ruled in brown, justification: 96 x 67mm, rubrics in red, one-line initials and line-endings alternately in gold flourished with dark blue and blue flourished with red, two- and three-line initials in gold with grounds and infills of blue and pink patterned with white, five large initials with staves of golden acanthus fronds on red-brown, and infills of white fronds on blue, FOURTEEN HISTORIATED INITIALS, EIGHTEEN FULL BORDERS, TWO LARGE MINIATURES AND TWENTY FULL-PAGE MINIATURES, ALL WITH FULL BORDERS of acanthus, flower and fruit sprays interspersed with gold disks and ink dots (wear to some borders and miniatures, smudging of miniatures ff.20v, 59v and of borders ff.13v, 14, 42). Modern blind-stamped brown morocco (slightly rubbed at extremities).
1. Although the use of the Office of the Virgin has not been identified, it is clear that the book was made for use in Hainault, diocese of Cambrai, from the Picard orthography and from the saints in the calendar (Vincent, founder of Hautmont and Soignies, in red 14 July) and memorials (Hugh and Achard, relics at Haspres; Hermes, relics at Ronse; Adrian, relics at Geraardsbergen; Waldetrudis or Waudru, founder of the convent at Mons and wife of Vincent). The rare verse prayer to the Virgin, ff.69-72, recurs in a Hainault prayerbook of c.1490 (London, BL, Add. MS 31838). The illumination, influenced by Simon Marmion, the mixture of inserted and integral miniatures and the irregular quire structure all support an origin in Hainault.
2. The book seems to have stayed in the region, since obits were added to the calendar for members of a de Gosee family: Marguerite 2 April 1642, Jacques 26 Sept 1636 and Nicolas 3 Oct 1612. Also commemorated are Guillaume Jacques 17 Aug 1642, Corneille Henrie 30 Sept, Nicolas Henrie 12 Oct 1704 and Lambert Bertrand 23 Oct 1694. It was perhaps for a de Gosee with kidney problems that the prayer opposite the last miniature (intended for St Denis?) was removed and a petition to St Liborius added on a blank leaf.
3. Madame le Tellier: on paper label inside front cover.
Calendar ff.1-6; Sunday Hours of the Trinity ff.8-9; Monday Hours of the Dead ff.10-11v; Tuesday Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.12-13v; Wednesday Hours of All Saints ff.14-15; Thursday Hours of the Sacrament f.15v-16v; Friday Hours of the Cross ff.18-19v; Saturday short Hours of the Virgin ff.21-22v; Office of the Virgin, unidentified use ff.24-46: matins f.24; lauds f.29v, prime f.35 (ant. Assumpta est, cap. Quae est), terce f.37v, sext f.39, none f.40v (ant. Pulchra es, cap. sicut cynamomum), vespers f.42, compline f.44v; Hours of St Catherine ff.46v-48; Penitential Psalms ff.50-56; litany and prayers ff.56-58v; Office of the Dead, with three lessons as found in France and Netherlands, ff.60-66; prayer on the Seven Last Words from the Cross ff.67-68; verse prayer to the Virgin, O digne preciosite, ff.69-72; Memorials ff.73-84: Martin f.73, Nicolas f.74, Michael f.75, John the Baptist, Lawrence, Quentin, Hugh and Acarius, George, Hermes, Hubert f.77, Christopher f.79, Sebastian f.80, Anthony Abbot f.81, Adrian f.82, Barbara f.83, added prayer to Liborius f.85, ruled blank f.86.
The illumination of this Hours places it in a group of manuscripts made in Hainault in the years around 1480 by artists inspired by Simon Marmion, who died in Valenciennes in 1489. Its borders and miniatures are particularly close to those in two Books of Hours, one in the Renate König Collection, Ms 20, and one sold at Sotheby's, 8 August, 1974, lot 107, see J. Plotzek et al. eds, Ars vivendi, ars moriendi, (2001), no 20, with further references. In the present Hours the Annunciation, in composition and technique, resembles most nearly the work of the 'prince of illumination', as Marmion was named by a contemporary. The other miniatures are more typical of the group with their thin washes of more fluid paint in pastel colours, although the characteristically spacious settings are more attractively detailed. The unusually large number of miniatures and the sequence of Suffrages suggest a special commission, which seems to have been executed with exceptional care.
The subjects of the full-page miniatures are as follows: the Trinity f.7v, funeral service in a church f.9v, the Crucifixion f.17v, the Virgin and Child on a flowery bank f.20v, Annunciation f.23v, Last Judgement f.49v, Raising of Lazarus f.59v, Lamentation f.66v, Virgin and Child f.68v, St Martin f.72v, St Nicolas f.73v, St Michael defeating the devil f.74v, St Hubert f.76v, St Christopher f.78v, St Sebastian f.79v, St Anthony Abbot f.80v, St Adrian f.81v, St Barbara f.82v, St Waldetrudis sheltering her daughters Sts Adeltrudis and Amalberta under her cloak f.83v, a sainted bishop with the top of his head in his hands f.84v.
The subjects of the large miniatures: Pentecost f.11v, All Saints f.13v
The subjects of the historiated initials: the Dove of the Holy Spirit f.12, a monstrance held by two angels f.15v, Agony in the Garden f.18, Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple f.24, Visitation f.29v, Nativity f.35, Annunciation to the Shepherds f.37v, Adoration of the Magi f.39, Presentation in the Temple f.40v, Flight into Egypt f.42, Massacre of an Innocent f.44v, St Catherine f.46v, David f.50, Skull and bone f.60.