BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Paris, c.1460 and Tours, c.1480]
138 x 100mm. 209 + iii leaves (original pastedowns and prefatory folio now at end), mostly in gatherings of 8, some catchwords in lower margins of final versos, written in a lettre bâtarde in 16 lines between two verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 89 x 55mm, rubrics in red, Calendar in red with major feasts in blue, one- and two-line initials in gold on grounds of blue or maroon patterned in gold, line-endings in blue and maroon patterned with gold, three-line initials in maroon, blue and gold or with blue and white staves on burnished gold grounds with foliate infills in red, blue and white, TWENTY-FOUR SMALL CALENDAR MINIATURES, FOURTEEN LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES WITH FULL BORDERS of acanthus, flower and fruit sprays with burnished gold leaves and disks on hairline tendrils, two borders with divided gold grounds, birds, beasts and grotesques (some miniature pages trimmed into framing, ff.76 and 153 trimmed into miniature, some miniatures worn, wear to borders and margins). 18th-century French red morocco with triple fillet border gilt, spine in five compartments gilt, 19th-century metal clasp in the form of a buckle (scuffed).
1. From f.43 the style of the illumination suggests an origin in Paris or northern France c.1460, while the detailed variations for the Office of the Virgin might indicate a clerical owner. The Calendar and the opening section, ff.1-42, seem to have originated in Tours, c.1480; the suffrage to St Joachim is a very early invocation of the Virgin's father as a saint. Variations of the arms on f.21 -- sable, a fess argent, between three eagles displayed or, beaked and armed gules -- were borne by several French families. The three fleur de lys, the French royal arms, in the miniature on f.25 are probably a decorative feature not a mark of ownership. This opening section was apparently added to personalise a standard Hours of Roman Use. Prayers were added to the manuscript soon after and the offsets of pilgrim badges on the leaves now at the end show that it was used and treasured. It presumably remained in France until it was rebound and titled in French.
2. George Merrick Ascough of the Inner Temple: armorial bookplate inside upper cover. His library was sold by Leigh and Sotheby, London, 25 February and 18 December 1800.
3. George Phillips Parker: name inscribed on Ascough's bookplate and on f.108; Parker's library was sold by George Hewitt and Co, New York, February 22, 1859.
4. Turner Sargent (1841-1865): name and address, 59 Beacon St, Boston, Mass. inscribed on Ascough's bookplate. The book probably passed to his widow, Amelia Lee Holmes (1843-1889), daughter of the great American literary figure, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and his wife Amelia Lee Jackson. Paintings, including Old Masters, from the Sargents' Collection went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
5. Edward Jackson Holmes (1873-1950): name and address, 296 Beacon St, inscribed on Ascough's bookplate. The address is that of the family home from 1870 of Oliver Wendell Holmes, which in 1894 was inherited by his eldest son, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, Justice of the Supreme Court. The childless Oliver Jr invited his nephew Edward Jackson Holmes and his wife to live there shortly after their marriage in 1897; Edward inherited the house on his uncle's death in 1935. Edward's father, also Edward Jackson Holmes (1845-1884), was the younger son of Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel Extracts ff.13-18; Marian prayers ff.18-20v; Hours of the Cross ff.21-24v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.25-28; prayers attributed to St Bernard, suffrages to St. Michael, all Angels, prayers to Christ, the Five Joys of St Anne f.34v; indulgenced prayer to St Joachim, suffrages to St Claude and St Jerome, on the Visitation, to God the Son, God the Father and the Holy Blood ff.28-40v; added prayers ff.40v-42; Hours of the Virgin, secundum consuetudinem romane curie ff.43-130v: matins f.43, lauds f.56, added prayer ff.69r and v, prime f.70, terce f.76, added prayer f.81r and v, sext f.82, none f.87, vespers f.92, compline f.101, added prayer f.107r and v partially erased, variations for the days of the week etc f.108; Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.131-152; Office of the Dead, use of Rome ff.153-201; added prayers ff.201v-209 and on the additional leaves disturbed by rebinding.
Illumination in Tours was dominated by Jean Fouquet, whose sons probably continued their father's style after his death between 1478 and 1481. The classicising patterns he had acquired during his travels in Italy passed into the common decorative vocabulary and reappear here in the background to Pentecost with its scene of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (?). The same hand seems responsible for the miniature of the Crucifixion, with the Calendar miniatures by a related but more skilled hand. These are unusually arranged in the outer margin so that the modifications to fit the vertical format give a novel vivacity to the scenes. The miniatures in the earlier section, with their dominant colours of blue, pink, white and gold, have figures with more elaborately modelled faces. They relate to the Master of Jean Rolin II, the dominant figure in Parisian illumination c.1445-1465, who brought new life to the compositional patterns of the Bedford Master. This continuity is especially evident in the scene of the Burial in the Churchyard, which three decades earlier appeared in one of the manuscripts made for the Duke of Bedford himself.
The subjects of the large miniatures are: the Crucifixion f.21, Pentecost f.25, the Annunciation f.43, the Visitation f.56, the Nativity f.70, the Annunciation to the Shepherds f.76, the Adoration of the Magi f.82, the Presentation in the Temple f.87, the Flight into Eygpt f.92, the Coronation of the Virgin f.101, David praying f.131, Burial in a Churchyard f.153.
The small Calendar miniatures are of the occupations of the month and the signs of the zodiac ff.1-12.