BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[southern Netherlands, c.1460]
165 x 118mm, 150 leaves: 1-26, 3-108, 117(vii a singleton), 128, 135(v a singleton), 14-158, 165(v a singleton), 17-198, 209(ix a singleton), 15 lines in black ink written in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 16 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 62 x 39mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one-line initials alternately in burnished gold flourished with dark blue and in blue flourished with red, line-endings in burnished gold and blue, two-line initials in burnished gold against grounds and infills of pink and blue with white decoration, THIRTEEN LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS, with staves of blue or pink patterned with white and foliate infills of blue, pink and white on grounds of burnished gold with burnished gold bars and TWELVE FULL BORDERS AND ONE PARTIAL BORDER with hairline tendrils with burnished gold terminals of disks and trefoils and sprays of acanthus and flowers in blue, green, red, pink and liquid gold, some with birds (some dampstaining to lower edge of opening leaves, offsetting of some initials in calendar, gilding on f.13 rubbed, full-page miniatures removed). 17th-century speckled calf gilt, brown morocco box.
1. The calendar suggests a model from the southern Netherlands, perhaps Bruges, including Amand in red (6 February), Gertrude (16 March), Basil in red (13 June), Eligius in red (25 June and 1 December), Amalberga (13 July), Bertin (5 September), Remy and Bavo in red (1 October), Donatian, the patron of Bruges, in red (13 October), Livinus of Ghent (11 November) and Nicaise in red (13 December). Amalberga also appears in the Litany. The texts are all very standard and the book was probably made for the open market at home or abroad.
2. Ownership inscription on first endleaf dated 15 March 1718 has been altered into Raggil Ragnsr Stregm.
Calendar ff.1-12; Hours of the Cross ff.13-16v; Mass of the Virgin ff.17-22v; Gospel Extracts ff.23-28; Office of the Virgin secundum consuetudinem Romane ecclesie ff.29-96: matins f.29, lauds f.48, prime f.60, terce f.64, sext f.68, none f.71, vespers f.74, compline f.80, variations for Advent f.84; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.97-108; Litany and prayers ff.108v-117; Office of the Dead use of Rome ff.118-149v, end supplied by later hand with blue and red flourished initials on f.150
The finely crafted initials and borders are painted in clear colours, enhanced in the border by motifs in burnished and liquid gold that form pleasing patterns with the fine hairline tendrils. The bars and initials are integrated into the border patterning so that the decoration retains a real dependence on the text. After the opening folios, the borders are well preserved and the generous undecorated margins on other folios are clean. The illumination is inspired by Parisian conventions current from the 1420s but should probably be dated to around 1460; it may have been executed in Bruges or perhaps further south.
The large initials and full borders are on ff.13, 17, 29, 48, 60, 64, 68, 71, 74, 80, 97, 116 and, (with partial border) 84.