BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
230 x 140mm. 103 leaves: 1-24, 38, 46, 5-74, 85(of 6, final blank cancelled), 9-108, 11-134, 143(i a singleton), 15-178, 186, 193(of 4, final blank cancelled), COMPLETE, 21 lines written in black ink in a roman script between two verticals and 22 horizontals ruled in dark pink, justification: 165 x 96mm, rubrics in red, one-line initials of liquid gold on grounds alternately of blue and brick-red with gold decoration, line-endings of the same colours, or as knotted cords or knotty staves of green or gold, two-line initials with grisaille staves of branch and leaf-forms on grounds of liquid gold, many with a flower or fruit in the infill, three-line initials usually of similar type, but several with bust-length figures instead of foliage infills and some with staves of pink, TWELVE LARGE CALENDAR INITIALS WITH THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC with elaborate grisaille staves and the zodiac signs in realistic colour against grounds of liquid gold, FIFTEEN MINIATURES WITH FULL-PAGE BORDERS of three types, eight of flamboyant renaissance architecture in liquid gold with panels or medallions with profile heads or relief designs, four of acanthus, fruit and flower-sprays, birds and grotesques on golden grounds and three with strewn flowers and birds or insects on liquid gold (very slight pigment losses in several borders, occasional slight spotting or offsetting, small hole in Elizabeth's robe in Visitation miniature, light water-staining of f.71 extending into the miniature of the Raising of Lazarus). French 18th-century red morocco gilt with a triple fillet, spine gilt in six compartments ruled and tooled with flower-sprays (slight rubbing of extremities, repair to head of spine). Green velvet slipcase.
A BOOK OF HOURS BY AN ILLUMINATOR TO THE COURT OF FRANçOIS I
1. The manuscript is likely to have been made in Rouen. Other Hours illuminated by this artist are for the use of Rouen and he also worked for the Rouen poet Jacques Le Lieur. The Office of the Virgin is for the general use of Rome and none of the major feasts of the Calendar indicates an origin in Rouen, but the use of the Office of the Dead is that most commonly found in Rouen Hours.
2. An early ownership note on the pilasters of the frame on folio 71 appears to read 'a moi dornel'. Informally drawn uncoloured coats of arms are in shields originally left blank on folios 71 and 96.
3. ?Nikolai Borisovich Iusupov (1750-1831): 'Iusup.' written in cyrillic inside upper cover seems likely to refer to this great collector. The immensely rich son of a former Governor-General of Moscow, and head of the Imperial Schools, Nikolai Borisovich was the friend and counsellor of Catherine II the Great and her successors, the Tsars Paul, Alexander I and Nicholas I. He possessed one of the largest collections of pictures in Russia. During his travels he met and became friends with Friedrich the Great and Joseph II of Austria, as well as Voltaire, Diderot, d'Alembert and Beaumarchais. His French library of some 35,000 books, many with the bookplate 'Ex biblioteca Anchangelina', was kept in the palace at Arkhangel'skoe outside Moscow. The 18th-century part of this remains in the palace, although after his death his son had removed many of the collections, changing the palace out of recognition. This French manuscript may never have been part of the Arkhangel'skoe library, and was probably confiscated and sold by the Soviet government through the international catalogues and agents of their antiquarian booksellers, Mezhdunarodnaia kniga, in the 1920-30s.
The shelfmark Lat. Q. v. I No 239 inside the front endleaf and the audit of leaves in Russian on the first of the lower endleaves are presumably related to this ownership and dispersal.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel Extracts ff.13-16; Passion according to St John ff.16v-22; Office of the Virgin, use of Rome ff.22v-58: matins f.22v, lauds f.33, prime f.40, terce f.42v, sext f.44v, none f.46v, vespers f.48v, compline f.51v; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.58v-70v; Office of the Dead, use of Rouen ff.71-88v; Hours of the Cross ff.89-91; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.91v-95v; Suffrages to the Trinity, angels, each disciple and Sts Stephen, Lawrence, George, Sebastian, Roch, Christopher, Nicholas, Anthony, Catherine (rubricated for Barbara), Barbara, Anna, Mary Magdalene and Margaret ff.96-100; prayer opening 'O benoit dieu je croy de coeur et confesse de bouche' ff.101-102v; prayers in Latin to Joseph, Anne and the Virgin added in a later cursive hand.
The miniatures of this handsome and grand manuscript were painted by an illuminator known as the Master of Girard Acarie from his work in the splendid copy of the Roman de la Rose that Acarie presented to François I around 1525: Margareta Friesen, Der Rosenroman für François I. New York, Pierpont Morgan Library M.948, Graz 1993.
The Master, along with the Master of the Ango Hours -- with whom he sometimes collaborated -- was part of the final phase of illuminated manuscript production in Rouen, where the trade in luxury manuscripts continued to flourish well into the 16th century, benefitting from the patronage of Cardinal d'Amboise, Louise of Savoy and other members of the court of François I.
The Master of Girard Acarie was chosen to decorate several other works for presentation to François I and to his mother, Louise of Savoy, including the Poème sur la Passion written by the Rouen poet and échevin Jacques Le Lieur (New York, Pierpont Morgan Lib., M.147). He also painted an illuminated copy of their poetry and correspondence (Karlsruhe, Bad. Landesbibl., Rastatt 29). The present Hours is an exceptionally fine example of his work, displaying his vigorous and spontaneous draughtsmanship in drapery and figures, as, for example the tumultuous Arrest of Christ (f.16v). The Master's figures are instantly recognisable by their heavy-lidded eyes and the engaging way that the women or youthful appear to be smiling. The architectural frames around many of the miniatures are of an unaccustomed exuberance and fantasy, and combine elaborate renaissance balusters and volutes with herms, putti, medallions, masks and swags. In contrast, three of the borders in the Office of the Virgin echo his Rouen background and combine sprays of naturalistic flowers and fruits with lavender acanthus against grounds of liquid gold: a type of border associable with the Master of the Rouen Échevinage from the 1460s on.
The initials of the Calendar, each containing the appropriate zodiac sign are a particulary attractive element of the decoration of this elegant manuscript. They, like all of the large miniatures, are the work of the Master of Girard Acarie. The two smaller miniatures, the Presentation in the Temple and the Coronation of the Virgin, are the work of another painter.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 St John on Patmos
f.16v Betrayal of Christ
f.22v Annunciation within a border of strewn flowerheads each a symbol of the Virgin, her suffering or the Passion of Christ
f.40 Nativity with the Virgin, Joseph and the shepherds adoring the Christ Child
f.42 Annunciation to the shepherds
f.44v Adoration of the Magi
f.46v Presentation in the Temple (smaller miniature)
f.48v Flight into Egypt
f.51v Coronation of the Virgin (smaller miniature)
f.58v David and Bathsheba
f.71 Raising of Lazarus with Peter unbinding his hands
f.96 Trinity, a blue cloud containing seraphim parts to reveal the Resurrected Christ holding his Cross, seated to the right of God the Father, with the Dove of the Holy Ghost hovering between them