BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, some rubrics in French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
170 x 120mm. 112 leaves, collation: 11+8, 2-68, 76, 84, 98, 104, 112, 12-168 [lacking 9/1], 24 lines, ruled in red, justification 100 x 65mm., written in brown ink in a bâtarda, rubrics in dark pink, one- and two-line initials in liquid gold on blue or red ground, similar line-fillers, three- and four-line monochrome initials infilled with flowers on liquid gold ground, on every page with a two-line initial an outer-panel border with divided field of plain or coloured ground with acanthus spray and gold ground with spray of fruit or flower, 13 FULL BORDERS of painted leaves and fruit and flowers on a gold ground containing birds, grotesques and figures, FIVE FULL-PAGE MINIATURES WITH ARCHITECTURAL FRAMES, antique-style brown morocco blocked by Riviere, edges gilt and gauffered. In brown cloth case.
1) The Litany includes several saints indicating an origin in central France.
2) John Carter Brown Library, Providence, Rhode Island, presented by Mrs. Jesse H. Metcalf. Sotheby's 18 May 1981 lot 5.
Gospel extracts (ff.2-11); Obsecro te (f.11-13); O Intemerata (ff.13v-15v); Prayers to the Virgin (ff.15v-17v); Office of the Virgin (ff.19-55), Lauds f.25, Prime f.31v, Terce f.33v, Sext f.35v, None f.37, Vespers, f.39, Compline f.43; Hours of the Cross, Matins (ff.57-58); Hours of the Holy Ghost (ff.59-59v); Seven Penitential Psalms (ff.60-67); Litany (ff.67-72); Office of the Dead (ff.74-91); Suffrages (ff.92-102); Prayers (ff.102-112).
Blank folios: 1, 18, 56, 72v, 73, 91v and 112v.
This lavishly decorated and handsome manuscript was produced in the Loire valley, most probably in Tours at the beginning of the sixteenth century.
The miniatures were painted by two illuminators. The illuminator of the Fall of the Rebel Angels - a most unusual subject in a Book of Hours - also painted Job on his Dungheap. Both artists followed a single format and provided frames where a column in the inner margin and a buttress or column in the outer margin support a low, cusped ogee arch. Tabernacles on the buttresses contain fictive golden statues. The illuminator of the Annunciation, Crucifixion and Pentecost interprets this format with great originality. The figures are not shown as lifeless, or even static, but they are drawn with the liveliness and fluency of the main scene. They are either relevant to the Holy event or react to it, most remarkably in the Annunciation. Here the prophet and the Atlas figure supporting him are so startled by Gabriel's arrival that they are about to topple from the frame.
It has not been possible to identify this inventive and accomplished painter but he seems likley to have worked in Tours at a time when the influence of Jean Boudichon replaced that of Jean Fouquet. There are precedents for both the architectural frames and the varied, highly finished borders in a group of Books of Hours produced in Tours at the end of the 15th century including lot 113, Sotheby's 23 June 1987, and one on loan to the Fisher Library, University of Sydney, New South Wales (M.M. Manion and V.F. Vines, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in Australian Collections, Melbourne/London/New York, 1874, no. 81). The figure style and the more advanced assimilation of Renaissance architectural forms indicate a later date for the present manuscript.
THE SUBJECTS OF THE MINIATURES ARE:
folio 1v. Fall of the Rebel Angels. God the Father stands in a landscape, on the left St. Michael Archangel expels demons from Heaven into Hell below. The frame of combined Renaissance and Gothic forms contains a statue of a nun.
folio 18v. Annunciation. The Virgin sits in front of a prie-dieu and brocade canopy, her prayerbook on her knees, in an elaborate Renaissance interior. Gabriel kneels on the left, his arms folded across his chest. The mock-sculptural figures of the frame, a prophet standing in a tabernacle supported by an Atlas figure, look at the scene and react with surprise.
folio 56v. Crucifixion. On the left of the Cross with the Dead Christ stand two Maries and John the Evangelist, on the right the horseback Longinus. There is a cityscape in the background. The frame contains a 'statue' of an Angel with the Instruments of the Passion.
folio 58v. Pentecost. The Virgin kneels at the right at a prie-dieu, St. Peter on the left with the other Apostles behind them in a Renaissance room with panelling and floor of coloured marble. The Dove of the Holy Spirit descends towards Mary. The 'statue' of a prophet in the frame kneels in adoration.
folio 73v. Job on his Dungheap. Job is visited by his friends, his ruined house visible behind him.