BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
118 x 86mm. 236 leaves, with miniatures on inserted singletons, 16 lines in black ink written in a lettre bâtarde with extensive cadels between two verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 82 x 52mm, rubrics in red, text capitals and cadels touched yellow, line-endings in blue and burnished gold, one-line initials in burnished gold flourished with dark blue or blue flourished with red, two-line initials in burnished gold with grounds and infills of blue and pink patterned with white, three-line initials in burnished gold on grounds and infills of blue and pink patterned with white with partial borders of hairline tendrils with terminals of burnished gold leaves and painted flowers, one with a single bar of burnished gold, SEVENTEEN LARGE INITIALS with staves of pink or blue against burnished gold grounds with a foliate spray in the infill, with burnished gold bars to three sides and FULL BORDERS of hairline tendrils with terminals of burnished gold leaves and discs and painted fruit and flowers between sprays of acanthus and flowers, some from vases, in blue, green, pink, red and liquid gold, THIRTEEN ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES, full page, with burnished gold frames and FULL BORDERS as above (probably lacking four miniatures, silver tarnished, marginal tear on one miniature leaf, rubbing to some miniatures and borders, thumbing to margins). Old black morocco.
1. The style of illumination suggests that the book was made in Bruges with texts not aimed at the local market. The Office of the Dead is close to a use found in Normandy, England (use of Sarum) and elsewhere in northern Europe. The Calendar has saints from the southern Netherlands; Romanus in red (June 1), conceivably for St Ronan of Quimper, and Germain in red (1 October) may be significant. The saints in the Litany are concentrated on Hainault and Cambrai, the diocese for most of Hainault: Gauger, Autbert, Amalberga, Madelberta, Waltrudis and Aldegonde. The French spellings are also appropriate to the francophone southern Netherlands. While the couple shown before the monstrance on f.60v could have commissioned the book, they are not identified by coats of arms despite their noble dress. In Bruges, particularly in the shop of Willem Vrelant, compositions of this type became popular for illustrating devotions to the Sacrament, so that the Hours may have been made for the open market with Hainaulters particularly in mind.
2. Prayers in Latin were added for or by a 15th-century owner.
Calendar ff.1-12; Sunday Hours of the Trinity ff.15-19v; Mass of the Trinity ff.20-25; Monday Hours of the Dead ff.27-32; Mass of the Dead ff.32v-37v; Tuesday Hours of the Holy Ghost ff.39-43; Mass of the Holy Ghost ff.43-47v; Wednesday Hours of All Saints ff.49-52v; Mass of All Saints ff.52v-59; added prayer to St William, badly faded or partially erased, f.59; Thursday Hours of the Sacrament ff.61-66; Mass of the Sacrament ff.66-71v; Friday Hours of the Cross ff.72-77v; Mass of the Cross ff.77v-82v; Saturday Short Hours of the Virgin ff.83-88; Mass of the Virgin ff.88v-93v; Gospel Extracts with Passion from St John ff.93v-100v; Salve regina and prayer added on 15 lines ruled onto verso of miniature ff.100v-101; Office of the Virgin, secundum usum romanum, ff.102-173: matins f.102-121v, added Te Deum ff.122-123v, lauds ff.124-133v, prime ff.135-138v, terce ff.140-143v, sext ff.145-148, none ff.150-153, vespers ff.155-161, compline ff.163-166v, variations for Advent etc ff.167-173; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.175-185; Litany ff.185-196; Office of the Dead ff.198-236v.
The presence in the Litany of St Bernadino, who died in 1444 and was canonised in 1450, makes a date before the 1450s most unlikely; the costume of the couple before the monstrance, f.60v, would have been becoming old-fashioned by the 1460s.
The miniatures relate to the later work of the Masters of the Gold Scrolls, although only All Saints, f.48v, has the characteristic gold patterned background; there are also connections with the early work in Bruges of Willem Vrelant. The drawing of facial features, where eyes are economically represented by little more than a line and a dot, led L.M.J. Delaissé to name this later manifestation of the Gold Scrolls style that of the Maître aux yeux bridés (La miniature flamande, le mécénat de Philippe le Bon, 1959, pp.18, 33). The miniature for the Office of the Dead shows a part of the funeral ceremonies not often depicted: the giving of alms to the poor, to benefit the deceased from the merit of the act and from the prayers of the grateful recipients. Other compositions correspond more closely to common Gold Scrolls patterns, such as the Nativity where Joseph holds a candle, which will be extinguished by the radiance of the divine Child, f.134v, and the Massacre of an Innocent before Herod's throne, f.154v, whereas the Raising of Lazarus, f.26v, and the Adoration of the Magi, f.144v, are more revealing of the Eyckian legacy still inspiring Bruges painters (B. Bousmanne, 'Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur', 1997, pp.72-76). Reflecting the two major currents in Bruges illumination in the mid-15th century, this Book of Hours repays the close attention demanded by its appealing size.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.14v Trinity of the Broken Body
f.26v The Raising of Lazarus
f.48v All Saints: Sts Peter, Paul, Anthony Abbot, George and Dominic are identifiable
f.60v A nobleman and lady kneeling before a monstrance on an altar f.101v Annunciation
f.139v Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.144v Adoration of the Magi
f.149v Presentation in the Temple
f.154v Massacre of the Innocents
f.162v Flight into Egypt
f.197v Almsgiving before a coffin in a church