BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
93 x 62mm. ii + 231 + 38 + ii: 112, 210(i & vii singletons), 39(iii a singleton), 48, leaves lacking, 59(i a singleton), 68, 710, 87(iv a singleton), 98, 109(vii a singleton), 119(v a singleton),1210(ii & vii singletons), 139(iii a singleton), 149(iii a singleton), 159(i a singleton), 164, 17-188, 1910(uncertain, ii a singleton), 20-218, 229(v a singleton), 23-278, miniatures on singletons, horizontal catchwords in lower corner of final versos, 13 lines written in a gothic bookhand in black ink between two verticals and 14 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 52 x 31mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one-line initials in burnished gold flourished with blue or light blue flourished with red, line-endings in burnished gold or light blue, two- to three-line initials in burnished gold on grounds and infills of pink and blue with white decoration, three three-line initials with burnished gold bars with terminals of burnished gold leaves on hairline tendrils, FOURTEEN LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS WITH FULL-PAGE BORDERS, with staves of blue or pink with white decoration on burnished gold grounds with foliate infills, the borders of scrolling acanthus with interlaced stems and flower terminals in blue, green, pink, red, burnished and liquid gold and hairline tendrils with foliate terminals in burnished gold with bars to three sides and outer burnished gold frames, facing FOURTEEN ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES WITH FULL-PAGE BORDERS of similar type without bars; 38 leaves, 13 lines written in an Italian gothic bookhand in brown ink between two verticals and 14 horizontals ruled in brown, justification: 58 x 34mm, rubrics in red, one- and two-line initials alternately in red and blue (lacking a few text leaves, possibly lacking one miniature before f.142, lower margin f.1 excised, staining along lower edge of some leaves, occasional smudging including some borders and miniatures, some leaves trimmed to outer border frames). 19th-century French brown morocco gilt blocked to a cathedral style, turn-ins gilt, red watered-silk, endleaves gilt, metal clasp (rubbed, detached from spine).
1. The illumination is localisable to Bruges and the Calendar largely follows a Bruges model, with St Donatus for Donatian in red (14 October), except for the appearance of St Lebwine of Deventer (25 June, translation of relics). The Litany includes Donatus and Amand and has a separate category of bishop confessors. Prayers are in the masculine. Additional texts were added soon afterwards in an Italian hand.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Hours of the Cross ff.14-18; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.20-24; Mass of the Virgin ff.26-34v; Gospel extracts, lacking the end of Matthew from II 9-12 and Mark, ff.34v-39v; Office of the Virgin use of Rome ff.41-127v: matins f.41, lauds f.71, prime f.89, terce f.96, sext f.102, none f.107, vespers f.113, compline f.122; Office of the Virgin in Advent and other variants ff.129-141; O intemerata ff.142-146; Obsecro te ff.146-151v; Prayer of Bede on the Seven Last Words from the Cross ff.152-155v; prayer Precor te piissime domine jhesu christe propter ff.155v-157; Seven Penitential Psalms with Litany and prayers ff.159-186v; Office of the Dead, use of Rome ff.188-231v; added in an Italian hand: psalms arranged for offices ff.232-251v; Gradual Psalms ff.252-268.
The Masters of the Gold Scrolls, responsible for this Hours, dominated Bruges book illumination from about 1410 to 1450, drawing on Parisian miniature and border conventions. Their work is distinguished by the gold patterned backgrounds that give them their name, seen here on ff.14v, 128v and 158v, and by their attractive bright colouring and clarity of contour. In this small volume, the miniatures appear to be by a single hand, who also painted diaper backgrounds with burnished gold and minutely detailed landscape and interior settings. His style, and the forms of the fluid acanthus-based borders and large initials, place this book in the later phase of the Gold Scrolls Masters' production in Bruges.
As often in Bruges Books of Hours, the miniature programme combines elements of a cycle devoted to the Virgin -- the Annunciation and her Coronation -- with a sequence of the Passion of Christ, from His Arrest to Entombment. The miniatures contain the wealth of incident familiar from larger books. All twelve Apostles can be discerned at Pentecost, for instance, and at the Arrest, Christ is kissed by Judas and replaces the servant's ear, as Peter sheathes his sword and five soldiers close in. At the Last Judgement, it is not clear whether it is by accident or design that John the Evangelist appears instead of the more usual John the Baptist. Faces are detailed by tiny touches of black, with red for the lips, and the expressive hand gestures are also clarified by dark outlining. The rich reds, blues, greens and pinks are enhanced by the generous use of burnished and liquid gold for halos, metallic objects, textile patterns and, of course, the backgrounds. The present volume is an attractive and finely worked demonstration of the qualities that attracted patrons from Italy and all over Europe to the illuminators of Bruges.
The subjects of the full-page miniatures are as follows:
f.13v Christ, standing in the tomb, surrounded by the Instruments of the Passion
f.25v Virgin and Child with music making angels
f.70v Betrayal and Arrest of Christ
f.88v Christ brought before Pilate
f.101v Christ carrying the Cross
f.112v Descent from the Cross
f.128v Coronation of the Virgin
f.158v Last Judgement
f.187v Reciting the Office of the Dead in a church