BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
181 x 133mm. i + 168 + i leaves: 16, 28, 39(ix a singleton), 48(i & v singletons), 59(i a singleton), 69(iv a singleton), 79(vii a singleton), 87(iv a singleton), 98(ii & vi singletons), 107(ii a singleton), 117(iii a singleton), 128(added), 139(i a singleton), 148, 156(added), 165(of 6, lacking first 2 leaves, iii a singleton), 177(i a singleton), 18-218, 226(added), all miniatures on singletons, 15 lines in black ink written in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 16 horizontals, the first two and the last running across the page, ruled in pink-red, justification: 109 x 70mm, early additions ff.88-95, 113-118, 155-168, 17 lines in brown ink written in a more angular gothic bookhand between two verticals and 18 horizontals, the first two and the last running across the page, ruled in pink-red, justification: 117 x 84mm, rubrics in red, line-endings in blue and red, text capitals touched red, one-line initials alternately in burnished gold flourished with dark blue or in blue flourished with red, two-line initials in burnished gold against grounds and infills of pink and blue with white decoration, ONE FULL-PAGE MINIATURE without border and TWELVE LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES with frames of burnished gold above four- or five-line initials with staves of pink or blue patterned with white on burnished gold grounds with painted foliate or diaper infills, with full-page borders of hairline tendrils with terminals of painted flowers and burnished gold trefoils and ovals, incorporating sprays of acanthus, flowers and fruit, two borders with wide bars of flowers on burnished gold grounds to three sides, the others with narrow burnished gold bars below and to the right of the text (margins somewhat worn and marked, staining to first and last leaves). Modern red velvet.
1. The illumination indicates Bruges as the place of production. The use of the Hours of the Virgin is unidentified; the short Office of the Dead is in a form favoured in Thérouanne but found elsewhere. The sparsely filled Calendar indicates Tournai, Cambrai or Noyon: St Medard (8 June), St Eligius in red (25 June and 1 December), Sts Piat and Remy in red (1 October), Sts Denis and Ghislain in red (9 October), St Donatian (14 October), St Nicaise, Archbishop of Rheims, in red (14 December). St Ghislain might suggest Hainault and Mons but Saint Waudru, the chief patron of Mons, is not listed. The Litany includes Sts Adrian, with a major shrine at Gerardsbergen, Medard and Gildard, celebrated in Tournai and Noyon, Bertin, founder of the abbey outside St Omer, Avia, with a shrine near Calais, and Gertrude, presumably of Nivelles in southern Brabant. The French Calendar and rubrics use forms and spellings from the southern Netherlands and Picardy.
2. At an early stage, the book was sympathetically expanded, with similar French spellings. The second and third nocturnes added to the Office of the Dead have the responses from the use of Tournai. The miniature of St Francis, datable to around 1470, may have been added at this time, perhaps coincident with the informal hand that added the Franciscan saint, Anthony of Padua, to the Calendar (13 June).
3. A subsequent owner made further additions to the Calendar, with a Dominican slant. 'Dominiq' was supplied in the blank by Saint on 5 August and Peter Martyr on 30 April. Another hand added the prayer on ff.153v-154 and rubrics and invocations of the Virgin, some in red, before each Hour of the Virgin.
Calendar ff.1-6v, Gospel extracts from Luke and John ff.7-10; prayers to guardian angel and the Virgin ff.10-12v; Stabat mater ff.12v-14v; Prayer on the Seven Last Words from the Cross ff.14v-16v; Seven Verses of St Bernard ff.17-18; suffrages: the Trinity f.18, Sts Michael f.19, Andrew ff.19v-20, Sebastian ff.20-21, Nicholas f.21, Anthony ff.21v-22, Mary Magdalen f.22, Catherine f.23; Hours of the Cross ff.24-27v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.28-31v; Office of the Virgin unidentified use ff.32-87v: matins f.32, lauds f.44, prime f.56, terce f.62, sext f.67, none f.71, vespers f.74, compline f.83; variants and benedictions for the different days of the week, added by a second scribe, ff.88-94; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.96-109v, Litany ff.109v-112v (lacking end); second scribe adds to Litany, psalms and prayers ff.113-117v; short Office of the Dead ff.119-148; prayers and Athanasian Symbol ff.148-153; added prayer to Holy Spirit in lettre bâtarde ff.153v-154; second and third nocturnes of the Office of the Dead, added by the second scribe ff.155-168v
The original Litany breaks abruptly on f.112v, since to facilitate the addition, the next two leaves before f.119 (conjoint with ff.122 and 123) were excised. The nocturnes added to the Office of the Dead end with the antiphon for Lauds, which is not the antiphon found in the original Office. It is, however, most unlikely that a second Lauds ever formed part of the volume, which seems to be complete as reconstituted after the additions.
Apart from the later St Francis added on an unwritten verso, the miniatures are typical of Bruges production of the 1430s in combining features of the Masters of the Gold Scrolls, including their eponymous backgrounds, with the less linear, more painterly approach of the first decades of the century. The gold patterned backgrounds are varied by landscape settings with appealing details of little buildings, trees and clouds. The menacing hell mouth below Christ at the Last Judgement, f.96, is an unusual feature, given the frequency of the scene in Hours of the Gold Scrolls Group, since it has been noted in only two others: Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, Ms W.263, dated to the 1440s, and New York, Hispanic Society, C.C.I.r Hours no 6, dated to c.1440 (see L. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, III, Belgium 1250-1530, 1997, no 238).
All the Gold Scrolls miniatures are on tipped-in leaves. Although each is above four or five lines of text, which continues on the versos, the miniature leaves are unruled. The gold frames were executed independently of, and before, the bars and text decoration; even with the frames, the miniatures have a width of about 68mm, a little less than the 70mm of the text page justification. The miniature leaves must, therefore, have been purchased already painted and the volume constructed and written around them. This method of book production was far more suited to full-page miniatures, which allowed the text to be completed independently and which necessitated neither writing nor burnishing gold letters on the versos of the miniatures. Not surprisingly, it is unusual in the Gold Scrolls group, having been noted in one other Hours of similar date, Leuven, Centrale Universiteit Bibliothek, Ms 5 (M. Smeyers, Vlaamse Miniaturen voor van Eyck, Leuven, 1993, pp.135-7). The predominant blues, greens and oranges of the miniatures are repeated in the French influenced borders to give the miniature pages a successful coherence, despite the divided production. A French-looking book, with miniatures over text, has been achieved by employing Netherlandish methods evolved to serve a different purpose.
The full-page miniature is of the Stigmatisation of St Francis, f.66v.
The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows:
f.62 Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.67 Adoration of the Magi
f.71 Presentation in the Temple
f.74 Flight into Egypt
f.83 Coronation of the Virgin
f.96 Last Judgement
f.119 Mourners and clerics around a coffin