BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
96 x 68mm. 208 leaves (pencilled foliation repeats 84 and 126): 14, 212, 38, 4-148, 153(lacking at least 2 leaves, before f.114 and f.115), 169(of 8 + i), 178, 187, 196(probably of 8 lacking i-ii), 20-238, 244, 258, ff.188-204 uncertain (lacking at least one leaf before f.191 and before f.198), ff.205-206 a bifolium added at the same time as gatherings 1 and 3 to carry additional prayers; 17 lines written in black ink in a lettre bâtarde between two verticals and 18 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 52 x 36mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, line-endings in pink and blue with white decoration, numerous two- and one-line initials with staves in burnished gold on divided grounds of pink and blue patterned with white, the two-line initials with hairline tendrils with gold foliate and painted flower terminals extending into the margin, SIX LARGE FOLIATE INITIALS five- or six-lines high in grisaille on grounds of burnished gold with full grisaille borders of black, grey and liquid and burnished gold, of which two face the full-page miniatures, THIRTY-THREE HISTORIATED INITIALS in semi-grisaille seven-lines high with staves in blue or pink patterned with white with burnished gold surrounds, with partial borders of hairline tendrils with gold foliate and painted flower terminals, SIX SMALL MINIATURES in semi-grisaille of less than text width, TWO FULL-PAGE MINIATURES in semi-grisaille with full grisaille borders in black, grey and liquid and burnished gold (one full-page miniature and four historiated initials with late sixteenth-century repaint, smudging of some borders, lacking some text leaves and possibly four miniature leaves). Brown morocco by Canapé.
1. The decoration shows the book to have been illuminated in Bruges. The Calendar includes saints popular in the south-western Netherlands, notably in red: Amand (2 February), Basil (14 June), Eligius (1 September and 1 December), Remy and Bavo (1 October), Nicaise (14 December); in black Valery (1 April), Amalberga (13 July), Bertin (5 September), Donatian (14 October), Wulfran (15 October), Quentin (31 October), Livinus (12 November); a few British feasts are insufficient to suggest a British patron but may have entered the scribe's model from books for the export market: Milburga (23 February), David (1 March), translation Thomas Becket (7 July). In the Litany the geographical range extends to Hainault and Brabant: Sts Quentin, Livinus, Amand, Vedast, Remy, Eligius, Omer, Bertin, Winnoc, Bavo, Amalberga, Walburga, Dympna, Genevieve, Gertrude, Aldegund. Various prayers are in the masculine and a male owner appears kneeling before the crucified Christ, f.180, praying with his guardian angel, f.199 and perhaps with another man and woman kneeling before the Host, f.191.
2. Many prayers were added for a subsequent owner.
3. The few overpaintings of the later 16th century seem to have been occasioned not by damage but by aesthetic or iconographic considerations, seen in the ingenious transformation of the Annunciation to the Shepherds into a Holy Family.
4. Typed description in French loose in volume
5. Chas. J. Sawyer Ltd., Booksellers, 12-13 Grafton St, London W1: typed description loose in volume
Added prayer f.1; Calendar ff.5-16; added prayers in French and Latin ff.17-19; Hours of the Cross ff.25-32; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.33-38; Mass of the Virgin ff.39-43v; Gospel Extracts, ff.44-49v; Obsecro te ff.49v-54; O Intemerata ff.54-56v; Office of the Virgin use of Rome, followed by prayers (lacking end) ff.57-114: matins f.57, lauds f.75v, prime f.86, terce f.90v, sext f.94v, none f.98v, vespers f.102v, compline f.110; prayer (lacking opening) f.115; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.116-126v; Litany and prayers ff.116v-137; Office of the Dead use of Rome (lacking opening and ending) ff.138-179v; prayer on the Seven Last Words from the Cross ff.180-182v; Prayers: Precor te piissime ff.182v-183v, O bone ihesu o piissime ff.184-186, suffrage to St Anne ff.186-187; added prayers ff.187-188; Salve sancta facies ff.189-190; Suffrages (lacking opening) ff.191-197; Gaude virgo mater Christi as antiphon to suffrage to the Virgin (lacking opening), further suffrages ff.198-202v; added prayers ff.203-205
The illumination is close to Willem Vrelant, active in Bruges from at least 1454 until his death in 1481, and emulates his delicacy of execution on a tiny scale. Many Vrelant compositions are reused: the staging of the Massacre of the Innocents before Herod, for instance, or the miniature of the Holy Face, ultimately derived from a lost original by Jan van Eyck. Vrelant himself illuminated books in grisaille, like the Ingoldisthorpe Psalter, see lot 34, and deployed full-page miniatures, text miniatures and historiated initials in varying combinations (B. Bousmanne, 'Item a Guillaume Wyelant aussi enlumineur', 1997). This easily portable volume is on the scale of a Vrelant Hours in Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery, Ms W 181 (L. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, III, Belgium 1250-1530, 1997, cat.253) but far more richly decorated, unusually opening each of the Penitential Psalms with a small miniature. It may have been specially commissioned for the man who appears in at least two initials or, from the absence of any coats of arms, made for the open market. The tiny scale and the use of grisaille rendering individual portraiture difficult, the representative figure could stand for any male owner. His costume suggests a date towards 1480 when shoulders had narrowed and long gowns were becoming more fashionable. The painter exaggerates the heads and hands of his tiny figures to convey narrative and emotion through expression and gesture; he enlivens the essentially monochrome palette with areas of green, blue, pink-red and brown, enhanced and clarified by details in liquid gold. His extensive knowledge of Vrelant's style and patterns suggests that he was a member of what was one of the leading illuminating shops in Bruges and this volume, so consistent with Vrelant's output, could have been issued under the master's name.
The subjects of the full-page miniatures are as follows:
f.115v David praying to the Lord
f.188 Holy Face (retouched)
The subjects of the small miniatures within the text are as follows:
f.117 David praying in a landscape with an angel above
f.118v David praying in an interior
f.120v Doeg executing Ahimelech before Saul
f.122v David with five attendants praying in a landscape
f.125 David praying before two captives in a prison
f.126 David praying with a man in armour in attendance
The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows: Christ before Pilate f.26, Mocking of Christ (overpainted) f.27, Carrying the Cross f.28, Crucifixion f.29, Deposition f.30, Entombment (overpainted) f.31, St John f.44, St Luke f.45v, St Matthew f.47, St Mark f.48v, Pietà f.49v, Visitation f.75v, Nativity f.86, originally the Annunciation to the Shepherds then overpainted as the Holy Family in a landscape f.90v, Adoration of the Magi f.94v, Presentation in the Temple f.98v, Massacre of an Innocent before Herod enthroned f.102v, Flight into Egypt f.110, Male owner kneeling before the crucified Christ f.180, naked Christ Child with a tethered bird seated in a garden f.184, St Anne with the Virgin and Child f.186, two men and a woman kneeling before the Host in a monstrance on an altar f.191, St John the Baptist f.192, Sts Peter and Paul f.192v, St James as a pilgrim f.193, St Nicholas f.194v, the penitent St Mary Magdalen standing naked in her grotto f.195, St Catherine f.195v, St Barbara (face and landscape overpainted) f.196v, male owner at prayer with his guardian angel f.199, St Christopher with a leafy staff f.199v, St William of Aquitaine f.201, St Adrian f.206
Full borders with large foliate initials: ff.25, 33, 39, 57, 116, 189