BOOK OF HOURS, Premonstratensian use, in Latin and Dutch, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[?Antwerp, 1420-30]R 146 x 111mm. i (lifted pastedown) + 231 + i leaves: 18, 26, 311(i, iv & ix inserted singletons with miniatures), structure uncertain from f.25 to f.38, likely two gatherings and lacking two text leaves, one after f.34 and another after f.38, and with ff.26, 28, 33 & 35 inserted singletons with miniatures, 66(i inserted singleton with miniature), 76(of 7, i an inserted singleton with miniature, lacking ii), 8-148, 157(of 8, viii cancelled blank), 168, 176(of 8, lacking iv/v), 18-208, 219(i singleton with miniature), 22-308(including final blank and lifted pastedown), horizontal catchwords in lower margins of many final versos, some cropped, 16 lines written in black/brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and seventeen horizontals ruled in lilac, prickings survive in outer margin, justification: 88 x 59mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one-line initials alternately of burnished gold flourished with dark blue or blue flourished with red, the flourishing sometimes extending into the upper and lower margins and terminating in a caricature head, two- to four-line initials of burnished gold with grounds of pink or blue with infills of the opposite colour with white decoration, accompanied by bar-borders in the outer margin with sprays of foliage and flowerheads of orange/red, pink, blue and burnished gold on hairline tendrils extending to the upper and lower margins, TEN FULL-PAGE MINIATURES framed with burnished gold and blue and pink fillets and surrounded by borders of scrolling tendrils with small flowerheads and leaves of gold and colours and, at the corners, large four-petalled flowers of red and blue, ELEVEN LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS with staves of blue patterned with white on grounds of burnished gold, with similar full-page borders, the inner margins with bar-borders of burnished gold, three richly decorated with flowerheads, ivyleaves or acanthus, and two large illuminated initials with borders of similar forms (darkening of first and last folios, a few spots and stains, mainly to margins, loss of two original patches to vellum flaws, small losses or areas of abrasion to gold or pigment of some illumination but only significantly affecting the miniatures of the Crucifixion and Funeral Mass, f.113 with sewing-holes and offsets from pilgrim badges, certainly lacking four text leaves, probably lacking further miniatures). Early 18th-century red morocco gilt, bordered with a double fillet, scrolling stems and flowerheads at the corners and forming a central lozenge with the additional tool of a bunch of grapes, spine gilt with five raised bands (slight wear at extremities, including tiny loss of leather at foot of spine, lower third of upper joint cracking, lower half of front hinge split).
1. The Calendar is more indicative of the southern than the northern Netherlands. St James may have been paired with St Jodocus or Joos in the opening memorial as saints especially connected with pilgrimage or the confessor Jodocus could have been invoked among the apostles and before the martyrs because he was a special patron of the owner, perhaps called Joos. His prominent position and the presence in the Calendar of St Nicasius of Rheims in red suggests a connection with the southern Netherlands, which was under the archbishopric of Rheims; the bishopric of Utrecht was under Cologne. The unusual mixing of entire texts in Dutch and Latin might also indicate an owner more familiar with southern Netherlandish conventions where Dutch Hours were less common. The illumination, however, is north Netherlandish in style and the book may have been produced in northern Brabant or Antwerp, where the Premonstratensian Abbey of St Michael was a major presence lodging the Duke and his court when they visited the town.
2. Added prayer in Dutch on f.ii
3. The Sotheby Family: inscription f.1 J.Sotheby; C.W.H. Sotheby: armorial bookplate inside front cover. The binding was probably executed for James Sotheby (d.1720). Sold Sotheby's 21 November 1955, lot 260.
Calendar ff.1-13; Suffrages in Latin except for Erasmus and Barbara ff.14v-38v: to James and Jodocus f.15-16, Peter and Paul ff.18r&v, Christopher and George ff.19-21, Erasmus ff.23-25, Cornelius and Adrian ff.27r&v, Antony and Sebastian ff.29-30v, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist ff.31-32v, Thomas Becket, probably lacking folio with Andrew at end ff.34r&v, Barbara and Catherine, lacking folio at end ff.36-38v; Hours of the Cross in Dutch ff.39v-44v; prayer for forgiveness of sins in Dutch ff.48-50v; Hours of the Holy Spirit in Dutch ff.51-66; Office of the Virgin, Premonstratensian use, in Latin ff.67-111v; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany in Latin (lacking one bifolio) ff.114-127; various prayers in Dutch to be said on waking, on rising, to guardian angel, on leaving the house, on going into church, on using the holy water, before the Cross, to the Virgin, during the mass with some Latin incipits to show at what place in the liturgy the prayers should be said, to Christ with 6666 days indulgence, prayer written by St Augustine with an angel and endorsed by St Gregory ff.128-151v; Office of the Dead in Dutch with prefatory text and some Latin incipits ff.152v-211; O Intemerata in Dutch ff.211v-215; Obsecro te in Dutch ff.215-220; prayers to be said before and on receiving the sacrament ff.220v-230
The markets of Antwerp attracted producers and buyers from both northern and southern Netherlands and may have been where this Hours with its mixture of northern and southern features was produced. The finely painted miniatures are in a later development of the style of the Master of Mary of Guelders, showing similarities with that of the Brno Speculum, both active in the Guelders/Utrecht region in the first decade of the 15th century, The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Illumination, Utrecht, Rijksmuseum Het Catharijneconvent, 1990, pp.57-8). The miniature for the Office of the Dead comes closest to the Master's elegant figures with small heads and receding chins; all the miniatures share his convention for eyes, defined by a dark line along the top and a dot for the iris, but the figures otherwise have rather larger heads in proportion to their bodies. The faces are delicately modelled and backgrounds and costumes are detailed with minute touches of colour or liquid or burnished gold. The miniatures must have been specially created for the book, with the unusual pairing of Sts James and Jodocus, but instructions were not always sufficiently detailed. The prayer to St Thomas Becket has been illustrated by a figure of St Thomas the Apostle with the spear of his martyrdom. Other full-page miniatures must have been intended, for St Christopher and Sts John the Baptist and St Anthony, and could have been planned for some openings where texts start with historiated initials. The miniature of the Mass of St Gregory is a comparatively early appearance of what would become a popular subject. It was usually associated with an indulgenced prayer, so that the following blanks could have been left for a text that was not immediately available and was never supplied.
The borders and text decoration present a rich variety of forms, mixing designs heavily reliant on burnished gold with painted foliage and flowers on rhythmically curling hairline tendrils. Some of these elements can be paralleled in manuscripts from Delft, such as the Bible of c.1435, bought for the church of St Bavo in Haarlem, with decoration typical of books produced by the convent of St Agnes in Delft (Utrecht, Rijksmuseum Het Catharijneconvent, Ms Warmond 92 H 2-3, Golden Age, no.55). This Hours seems earlier from the luxuriantly wide bar borders and from the costume depicted within the miniatures. The richness of what is shown - St Adrian's golden sash, for instance, with its little bells to give music wherever he goes - is matched by the scope of the decorative programme and the skill with which it was executed.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.14v Sts James the Great and Jodocus
f.17v Sts Peter and Paul
f.22v Martyrdom of St Erasmus
f.26v Sts Cornelius and Michael
f.28v Sts Sebastian and Anthony
f.33v Sts Thomas and Andrew
f.35v Sts Barbara and Catherine
f.45v Mass of St Gregory
f.152v Funeral Service
The historiated initials are as follows: f.40 Pietà, f.51 Pentecost, f.67 Agony in the Garden, f.77 Betrayal, f.88 Christ before Pilate, f.93 Flagellation, f.96 Christ carrying the Cross, f.99 Crucifixion, f.102 Deposition, f.108 Entombment, f.114 Last Judgement
Large illuminated initials with borders are on folios 128 and 153.