BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
160 x 115mm. 183 leaves: 112, 28, 36, 4-98, 106, 11-178, 187(vii a singleton), 19-238, COMPLETE, pagination 1-376 skipping from 130 to 141, followed here, single column of 16 lines written in a gothic bookhand in black-brown ink between two verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in dark pink, justification: 91 x 59mm, rubrics in dark pink, capitals touched yellow, one- and two-line initials of burnished gold against grounds and infills of dark pink and blue with white pen-work decoration, line-endings of the same colours, three- and four-line initials with blue staves with white pen-work decoration against ground and infills of burnished gold with sprays of naturalistic flowers or fruit or formalised trefoils of red and blue, each page with a panel border of curling hairline tendrils of gold disks and ivyleaves and terminating in sprays with pink, blue and red flowerheads, each page with a four-line initial having a three-quarter border of similar type but including blue and gold acanthus sprays at the corners, SEVEN ARCH-TOPPED LARGE MINIATURES accompanied by FULL-PAGE BORDERS made up of delicate scrolling blue and gold acanthus intermingled with sprays of berries, strawberries, pink campion and cornflowers etc, one border with three historiated roundels, (slight rubbing affecting all miniatures). French 18th-century tan calf gilt, spine gilt in six compartments, red morocco lettering-piece in second, the others with repeated patterns of floral and frond stamps (joints split, chipped at head and foot of spine).
1. The use of the feminine form suggests that the manuscript was made for a woman and the Paris use of the Hours of the Virgin and the presence in the Calendar of Sts Geneviève (3 January), Merry (29 August), Denis (9 October) and Marcel (3 November) indicate its intended destination as Paris.
2. Thomas Weld-Blundell (d.1887): his armorial bookplate inside upper cover. Thomas Weld added Blundell to his name in 1837 after inheriting Ince Blundell Hall and the collections there formed by Henry Blundell and his son Charles. The manuscript continued at Ince Blundell until this century, and by descent to the present owner. Thomas Weld-Blundell was the grandson of Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle (1750-1810), founder of Stonyhurst College, who owned the Bedford Psalter and the Luttrell Psalter before their acquisition by the British Library. It is yet to be established whether this manuscript and the following two lots descended from Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle or from the Blundells.
Calendar pp.1-24; Gospel Extracts pp.25-34; Obsecro te in the feminine form pp.35-41; O Intemerata pp.42-49; Memorial to the Five Feasts of the Virgin pp.49-51; Office of the Virgin pp.53-170 : matins p.53, lauds p.95, prime p.112, terce p.121, sext p.128, none p.144, vespers p.151, compline p.162; Seven Penitential Psalms pp.171-197; Litany pp.197-262; Short Hours of the Cross pp.263-208; Short Hours of the Holy Spirit pp.209-215; Office of the Dead pp.216-296; Fifteen Joys of the Virgin pp.297-309; Seven Last Requests pp.310-316; Suffrages to the Trinity (p.317), the Cross (p.318), St Michael (p.318), St John the Baptist (p.319), Sts Peter & Paul (p.320), St John the Evangelist (p.321), St Denis (p.321), St Lawrence (p.322), St Stephen (p.323), St Christopher (p.324), St Sebastian (p.325), St Adrian (p.327), Sts Cosmas & Damian (p.331), St Nicholas (p.332), St Antony (p.335), St Fiacre (p.336), St Mary Magdalene (p.337), St Catherine (p.334), St Margaret (p.339), St Geneviève (p.340), St Apollonia (p.340), St Barbara (p.342), All Saints (p.343), Pax (p.345); various prayers, hymns and antiphons (pp.345-360); Verses of St Bernard and further prayers (pp.361-376)
The miniatures show an obvious debt to the style and compositions of the Maître Franois, the productive and influential illuminator whose workshop served the bibliophile needs of the court and prominent citizens of Paris during the third quarter of the 15th century. His success resulted in the widespread emulation of his style among Parisian illuminators. One of the most striking motifs in the present manuscript is the diaphragm frame around the miniature of the Annunciation (p.53), with a stepped arch supported on side columns, and pendant tracery. This design can be found in manuscripts attributed to Maître Franois, for example the Hours of Jacques de Langeac (Lyons, Bibliothèque municipale, Ms 5154), but an even more precise comparison - where the tracery has evolved into a filigree 'rose' - can be made with the framing devices of Maître Franois' most accomplished follower and successor, the Master of Jacques de Besanon (Antiquariat Heribert Tenschert, Leuchtendes Mittelalter II, 1990, no 54). Clearly, however, the present manuscript is unlikely to be of such a late date; the simple hairline tendrils of the borders, the presence of elements recalling earlier Parisian illumination, all sugest a date no later than the 1470s. The engaged animation of some of the protagonists in the miniatures is an individual feature of this illuminator's work; for example the agitated response of the Evangelist in the Crucifixion (p.203).
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
p.25 St John on Patmos
p.53 Annunciation, three roundels in the margin, the uppermost with a half-length figure of God blessing and despatching the dove of the Holy Spirit towards the Virgin, the Meeting at the Golden Gate, and, in the lower border, the Birth of the Virgin
p.171 David in prayer in an interior, appealing to the half-length figure of God visible in the window embrasure
p.203 Crucifixion with the Virgin and John the Evangelist
p.209 Pentecost in a barrel-vaulted room
p.216 Burial service, with the officiating cleric in the foreground and, in the grave, the sexton lowering the shrouded corpse into the ground, two gesturing bystanders behind
p.299 Virgin and Child enthroned with music-making angels
p.310 God the Father in Glory