BOOK OF HOURS, use of Paris, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
176 x 126mm. ii(i as pastedown) + 206 leaves + ii(ii as pastedown): 112, 28, 35(v a singleton), 4-108, 114, 12-148, 156(of 8, lacking iv/v with miniature), 16-198, 209(ix a singleton), 21-228, 236, 24-268, 274, lacking at least one leaf with miniature after gathering 1, one catchword and occasional signatures survive, 15 lines written in black ink in a formal gothic bookhand by two scribes, the first ff.1-156, the second ff.157-206, between two verticals and 16 horizontals ruled in red, vertical prickings visible, justification: 92 x 60mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, line-endings and initials of one or two lines in burnished gold on grounds of blue and pink patterned with white, two similar four-line initials accompanied by side borders of hairline tendrils linking leaves and disks in burnished gold and small painted flowers, three- and four-line initials with staves of blue patterned with white against grounds of burnished gold and with foliate infills of blue, orange and pink, nine accompanied by a burnished gold baguette and three-sided border of golden leaves and disks on hairline tendrils interspersed with sprays of gold acanthus and flowers, Calendar opening with a full-page border and with other leaves having side border of similar type, SIX ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES with frames of burnished gold above large initials on burnished gold grounds, surrounded by three-sided baguettes in burnished gold and pink and blue patterned with white, and full borders as above (precise, fine incisions along lower frames of miniatures, f.109v also along upper frame, now taped on text side but capable of near imperceptible repair, slight cropping to upper border of f.1, small cut upper margin ff.26 and 86, face of Virgin partly rubbed f.109v, slight rubbing to some borders). French 19th-century red straight-grained morocco gilt with border of ivy-leaves bounded by single fillets. Blue cloth box with gilt coronet and initial.
1. A Dominican Sister is shown on f.179 presented to St Catherine by St Michael: text and decoration suggest that the manuscript was made in Paris. The Offices of the Virgin and of the Dead are for the use of Paris and Geneviève appears in the Litany. Although the decoration throughout is in a single style, the text from f.157 is written in a different hand. St Dominic does not appear in the Calendar and there is no special emphasis on Dominican saints in the Litany; the prayers are in the masculine except in the second section on ff.166 and 177. It is probable that a standard Book of Hours was extended and illuminated for its Dominican owner accommodating her especial veneration for Saints Catherine and Michael.
2. Number of miniatures noted in French in a 19th-century hand on front endleaf.
3. Lord Kennet of the Dene (1879-1960): his armorial bookplate inside upper cover; according to his note on an inserted card, bought c.1928 in Budapest by a Munich bookseller and sold privately through Maggs, London 'at the height of the crisis of 1938'.
Calendar ff.1-12; Memorial to St John the Evangelist, lacking opening f.13; Gospel Extracts ff.13-18; Obsecro te ff. 18-21v; O intemerata ff. 21v-25v; Office of the Virgin, use of Paris ff.26-84v: matins f.26, lauds f.47v, prime f.57v, terce f.62v, sext f.66v, none f.70, vespers f.73v, compline f.80; Penitential Psalms ff.86-97; Litany ff.98-105; Hours of the Cross ff.103v-109; Hours of the Holy Spirit, lacking end of vespers and compline ff.109v-112v; Office of the Dead, use of Paris, lacking opening ff.113-156v; Memorials and prayers ff.157-178v: Trinity, Our Lady, Sts Michael, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Nicholas, Mary Magdalene, Michael, On waking, On rising, On going to bed, On going through a cemetery, On entering a church etc; Hours of St Catherine ff.179-184; prayer to St Catherine ff.184-185v; Hours of the Conception of the Virgin ff.186-190; Passion according to John and Prayers ff.190-193; Antiphons to the Virgin for the Days of the week ff. 193v-196v; Fifteen Joys of the Virgin ff.197-202v; Seven Requests to our Lord ff.203-206.
Hours of St Catherine and of the Conception of the Virgin are not usual in Books of Hours of this date and must have been specially requested, along with the extensive sequence of prayers, by the Dominican sister. The Feast of the Transfiguration, appearing in gold in the Calendar as 'St Sauveur' (6 August), was given papal endorsement in 1457; not usual in Parisian Calendars it might indicate a connection with the Church of St Sauveur.
The miniatures are later works by the artist of the Invention of St Stephen in the Salisbury Breviary (Paris, BnF, lat.17294, f.529v), one of the four manuscripts owned or commissioned by John, Duke of Bedford, English Regent in France from 1423, from which the Bedford Master takes his name. Work continued on the Breviary after the Duke's death in 1436, with only this one large miniature of St Stephen not in the related styles of the Bedford and Dunois Masters. The Master of the Salisbury Breviary St Stephen often worked with the Dunois Master, named after the Hours of the comte de Dunois (BL Yates Thompson Ms 3), who from about 1440 took over the leadership of the Bedford Master's workshop in Paris. In the St Stephen miniature, as here, smooth contours neatly define slightly narrow-headed figures, while a fine line gives features to the pale faces and emphasises the hooded eyes. Unlike the Dunois Master, with his deliberately evident brushstrokes, the St Stephen painter achieves a precise and even finish, contrasted in this manuscript with the blurring of the cloth hangings to indicate their soft velvety texture. This feature appears in the later work associated with the St Stephen Master, as in the de Gouy Hours (BnF lat.921) of c.1460, in which other miniatures are by the Dunois workshop.
That there was an independent St Stephen Workshop in Paris is borne out by the manuscripts, like this Hours, illuminated in just the one style. Four are Books of Hours also for the use of Paris, including one in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Ludwig Ms IX 6). The borders around the miniatures of the present Book of Hours and those of the Getty Hours are the work of a single illuminator and the Pentecost miniatures in both manuscripts are virtually identical (A. von Euw and J. Plotzek, Die Handschriften der Sammlung Ludwig, 2, pp.103-14).
Like the Master of the Munich Golden Legend, with whom he sometimes collaborated, the Master of the Salisbury Breviary St Stephen adopted many of the compositions of the Bedford and Dunois Masters yet retained his own distinctive and accomplished style.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.26 The Annunciation
f.86 David at prayer
f.103v The Crucifixion
f.179 St Michael presents a kneeling Dominican sister to St Catherine
f.186 Meeting at the Golden Gate