BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[probably Paris, c. 1415]
180 x 130mm., 202 leaves and medieval flyleaves, COMPLETE, COLLATION: 112, 2-118, 124, 132, 14-268, 15 lines, ruled in red, justification 98 x 61mm., written in brown ink in a gothic textura, rubrics in red, one- and two-line initials in gold on blue ground or blue on gold ground with penwork or floral decoration and similar line-fillers, outer panel borders of gold ivy leaves on hairline stems, foliage and fruit on alternate pages, 16 LARGE MINIATURES in arched compartments, mostly WITHIN THREE-SIDED BAGUETTES AND FULL BORDERS of gold ivy leaves on hairline stems and painted foliage, eighteenth-century French red morocco, edges gilt, in morocco slipcase.
1). The cloth covering the altar in the Funeral Service is blue scattered with fleur de lys, the French royal arms. This may signify intended royal ownership for the manuscript (or perhaps a recent royal death?). It is not a common pattern in Boucicaut workshop manuscripts unless it is decorating a French king's chamber. In the only exception Meiss mentions (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 251), he suggests that it may be the owner's emblem (p.79).
2). The book was in Anjou in the 17th century, when an owner partially changed the Paris use to that of Rome and Anjou by erasures and overprinting to allow prayers and responses in the Hours of the Virgin to be revised. The new text being longer often extends into the lower margin and two leaves have been added after Compline to allow for new text. None of the revisions are on pages with miniatures.
3). Note of gift to 'amico' Guiguant, 1816 on endpaper.
4). Harvey Frost, booklabel.
5). Sir James Caird, acquired ca. 1953, who placed the manuscript on deposit at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
ff.1-12 Calendar, Saints Genevieve (3 January) and Denis (9 October) in gold; ff.13-18 Gospel Sequences; ff.18v-27 Obsecro te and O intemerata; ff.27v and 28 blank, but ruled; ff.29-52 Hours of the Virgin, Matins; ff.52v-63 Lauds; ff.63v-69 Prime; ff.69v-73v Terce; ff.74-78 Sext; ff.78v-82v None; ff.83-89v Vespers; ff.90-95 Compline, with later additions ff.95-98; ff.99-116v Penitential Psalms; ff.117-124 Hours of the Cross; ff.124v-130v Hours of the Holy Ghost; ff.131-175 Office of the Dead; ff.175v-181 Quinze joies de Notre Dame; ff.181v-184v Cinq plaies de Notre Seigneur; Memorials of Saints ff.185-202.
This is a fresh manuscript in excellent condition, illuminated in the workshop of the Boucicaut Master, one of the leading artists of the greatest period of manuscript illumination. The identidy of the Master and the organisation of his workshop are unknown, making any precise or definite attribution impossible. The work of two distinct artists, both working within the Boucicaut style, are discernible in these miniatures. The Annunciation and its border with luxuriant foliage and music-making angels is the most highly finished and lavishly decorated page of a painter whose figures are recognisable by their pale, almost white flesh tones. He also painted the Visitation, the Presentation of Christ, the Flight into Egypt, the Coronation of the Virgin, the Virgin and Child enthroned and Pentecost.
With two exceptions the other miniatures were painted in the softer more delicately modelled manner associated with the Boucicaut Hours itself. The most exquisite of them, David at Prayer (f.99), is of a sufficiently high quality to suggest an attribution to the Master himself.
The illumination of two miniatures, the Adoration of the Magi (f.74), and Christ in Judgement (f.181v) seems to have been left incomplete by the Boucicuat workshop. They were painted some years after the rest of the manuscript. Although the later illuminator followed the Boucicaut drawings, he appears to have misunderstood one: the angels whose clouds sit upon the green earth below the Judging Christ are likely to have been intended as figures of the Resurrected emerging from their graves.
THE SUBJECTS OF THE MINIATURES ARE:
folio 13. The four Evangelists in one miniature divided horizontally, painted on gold ground
folio 18v. Virgin and Child within an aureole, trees below, two angels above in a blue star-studded sky holding the crown
folio 29. The Annunciation, within gothic architecture. The floral border (slightly shaved at head) has an angel in each corner
folio 52v. The Visitation
folio 63v. Nativity. Virgin and Joseph at prayer
folio 69v. Annunciation to the Shepherds
folio 74. Adoration of the Magi
folio 83. Flight into Egypt
folio 90. Coronation of the Virgin, two angels above holding the crown, against a diapered ground
folio 99. David at prayer in a landscape with trees, God above surrounded by red seraphs
folio 117. Crucifixion
folio 124. Pentecost
folio 131. A Funeral Service in a vaulted church
folio 175v. Virgin and Child with an angel playing the harp
folio 181v. Christ in Glory, on a rainbow, surrounded by seraphs, on gold ground (border slightly shaved at head)
M. Meiss, French Painting in the time of Jean de Berry: The Boucicaut Master, 1968.