BOOK OF HOURS, in Latin, use of Rome, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Bruges, c.1410, 1430s, c.1460]170 x 130mm. 185 leaves: 112, 26, 38(of 9, i a singleton with miniature, ii cancelled), 56, 68, 7-116, 128, 136, 14-158, 164, 17-188, 196, 20-258, 265(of 6, vi final pastedown), signature marks in lower corners of a few rectos, 14 lines written in black/brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 15 horizontals ruled in dark pink, justification: 94 x 60mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one-line initials in burnished gold flourished with black, and in blue flourished with red, two-line initials of burnished gold on blue or red grounds with infills in the contrasting colour with white decoration, a bifolium with full-page borders comprising vertical bar-borders with accompanying sprays with ivy-leaf and flowerhead terminals in blue, pink and burnished gold, a few leaves ruled for similar decoration with preparatory underdrawings, scorings or painting for placing of terminals, ELEVEN LARGE MINIATURES WITH LARGE INITIALS AND FULL-PAGE BORDERS comprising bar-borders and hairline tendrils linking leaves, disks and flowerheads in burnished gold, and blue, green and pink, and ONE LARGE INITIAL WITH SIMILAR FULL-PAGE BORDER with a stave of blue with white decoration on a burnished gold ground with scrolling foliate infill in blue, pink, red and green, and FULL-PAGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURE with three-quarter border of scrolling blue and purple acanthus and naturalistic fruit and flowers, interspersed with black penwork and gold disks (?lacking one miniature, replaced by miniature of Virgin and Child enthroned, occasional slight rubbing with small losses of pigment, light smudging to miniature of Massacre of the Innocents, crease to one large initial). 19th-century calf, the upper and lower covers applied with identical blind-stamped leather panels signed by Frater Johannes de Weesalia, comprising two scenes of the Entry into Jerusalem, with a middle register in 3 compartments, showing St Margaret with cross in joined hands issuing from a dragon, a wyvern rampant at left and a griffin rampant at right [Germany, 15th-century], cf. Gruel I, 113 (binding worn, upper board partially detached).
1. The style of the miniatures and of the different stages of illumination suggest that they were all carried out in Bruges. Although the use of the Hours of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead is that of Rome, the calendar is a typical Bruges composition.
2. Prayers added in a 16th-century hand, (f.108v and f.132) include an oration to St Barbara, perhaps an indication that a subsequent owner was female.
3. The manuscript was rebound in the 19th-century, incorporating the panels by Johannes of Weesalia, which may have formed part of the existing binding. The middle register on the panels, showing St Margaret, is identical to that on a replacement binding of a northern Netherlandish Hours now in the Walters Art Gallery (Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts..., vol.III, Cat. 251, Walters Ms 168; See also S. Fogelmark, Flemish and Related Panel-Stamped bindings, 1990, plate XLII). Johannes of Weesalia has been identified as a monk of the order of Chartreux, in the monastery at Wesel, now North Rhine-Westphalia.
4. John Broadley (1774-1832?), armorial bookplate (torn with loss); his library was dispersed in sales Evans, 12 July 1832 and 19 June 1833.
5. Acquired from the Library of E.R. Fardell, 1868, by Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), flyleaf inscribed '4073 and 22128', remains of his label on spine; British Library, Loan 36/28.
Calendar ff.1-12; Hours of the Holy Cross 13-18v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff. 19-24v; Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome, ff.26-90: matins f.26, lauds f.39, prime f.53, terce f.59, sext f.65, none f.71, vespers f.77, compline f.85, with variations for advent ff.91-108v; prayers to the Holy Spirit in a different hand ff.109-110; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.111-132; Office of the Dead, use of Rome, ff.133-184v; prayer to the Virgin, in a different hand f.185r+v.
There appear to have been three stages of illumination. The first comprises the border decoration of several leaves, only two of which were completed, and is datable to c. 1410. Signs of preparatory layouts for similar decoration on further leaves are still visible, some erased to make way for the next stage of illumination, the ten miniatures. The miniatures show the distinct characteristics of manuscript production in Bruges in the 1430s and are the work of two masters of the Gold Scrolls group. In addition to the workshop's hallmark of gold-patterned backgrounds, there are landscape settings with the characteristic sloping outcrops of rocks, appealing details of distant buildings and trees, and familiar compositions such as that of the Last Judgement. The miniature of the Massacre of the Innocents presents an interpretation particularly associated with Bruges conventions: as in a manuscript now in the Fitzwilliam museum (Ms no. 52), the Massacre of the Innocents shows Herod with a sword in his hand and therefore as an active participant in the slaughter. A final stage in the decorative scheme is the insertion of a miniature on f.25v, to mark the opening of the Office of the Virgin, which is datable to c. 1460.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.25v Virgin and Child enthroned
f.59 Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.65 Adoration of the Magi
f.71 Presentation in the Temple
f.77 Massacre of the Innocents
f.85 Flight into Egypt
f.111 Last Judgement
f.133 Funeral Service