BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Rouen, c.1480]182 x 127mm. 155 + i(lifted pastedown) leaves, apparently COMPLETE: 112, 28, 35(of 6, v cancelled blank), 4-118, 124, 13-198, 206, prickings visible in most outer margins, 17 lines written in black ink in a lettre batârde between two verticals and 18 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 93 x 59mm, verse initials touched yellow, rubrics in red, one-line initials in gold on alternate blue and red grounds, similar line-endings, two- and three-line initials of blue, white and red foliate staves on liquid gold grounds with floral infills, EVERY PAGE WITH PANEL-BORDER made up of blue and gold acanthus, naturalistic fruit and flowers, interspersed with hairline tendrils and gold disks on divided grounds of liquid gold, TWENTY-FOUR CALENDAR MINIATURES, ONE LARGE MINIATURE WITH FOUR BORDER SCENES, TWELVE LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES AND FIVE SMALL MINIATURES ALL WITH ACCOMPANYING FULL-PAGE BORDERS of the same forms and containing butterflies, birds or fantastic creatures (f.1 rubbed and browned, occasional small losses of pigment, notably to St John on Patmos, the faces in border scenes f.26, miniature of Flight into Egypt rubbed). 18th-century tree calf gilt (some wear).
1. The style of the illumination places the manuscript in Rouen, and although the liturgical uses of the Offices of the Virgin and the Dead are for Rome, the feasts highlighted in the Calendar include feasts associated with Rouen (St Martial, 3 July, St Sauveur, 6 August, St Michiel, 16 October, St Romaing 23 October). A female figure, the lady for whom this Hours was made, is shown kneeling in the border opposite the small miniature of the Virgin and Child Enthroned (f.114); as the prayers Obsecro te and O Intemerata are in the masculine however, this manuscript may have been produced for the trade, rather than for a specific patron.
2. A prayer in Latin has been inscribed in an 18th-century hand on the final blank verso, comprising four lines written within the medieval ruling.
3. Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872): his lion stamp with Sir T.P. Middle Hill and manuscript number 2920 on flyleaf; his label 2920 on spine; British Library, Loan 36/12.
Calendar, in French ff.1-12v; Gospel Extracts ff. 13-19; Obsecro te ff.19-22v; O Intemerata ff.22v-24v; Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome ff.26-86v: matins f.26, lauds f.37, prime f.48v, terce f.52v, sext f.56v, none f.60, vespers f.63v, compline f.68v; Hours of the Holy Cross ff.69-71v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.72-74v; Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.76-95v; Office of the Dead, use of Rome ff.96-125v; Prayers to the Virgin to be recited on Saturdays, followed by suffrages to the Trinity, to Saints Michael, John the Baptist, Peter, James, Nicholas, Mary Magdalene, Catherine and Barbara ff.126-137.
This elaborately decorated Hours is a fine example of the work of a skilled follower of the Master of the Geneva Latini, or Master of the Rouen Échevinage. The compositions and decorative vocabulary are characteristic of the Hours which were produced in Rouen by his highly productive workshop in the second half of the 15th century. The Annunciation miniature for example, bears close comparison with Walters Art Gallery Ms. 238 (Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts..., vol. II, Cat. 148); the setting and composition are almost identical, but reversed, and include the formulaic device of lilies in a gold vase set centre front, on a sharply receding green-tiled floor. Both the miniatures and densely-filled borders are highly detailed and rich in incident: interiors and landscapes are elaborately articulated, textiles are patterned and gilt, garments are highlighted in gold with elaborate drapery folds. Also typical is the enrichment of traditional subject matter, with ancillary characters or events contained in miniatures; here the usual depiction of David Praying (f.94) is shown with David's slaying of Goliath in the distance, and the Annunciation is bordered by four scenes from the life of the Virgin.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 John on Patmos
f.15 St Luke
f.16v St Matthew
f.18 St Mark
f.26 Annunciation, with border scenes from the Life of the Virgin: Annunciation to Joachim, Meeting at the Golden Gate, Birth of the Virgin, Marriage of the Virgin
f.52v Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.56v Adoration of the Magi
f.60 Presentation in the Temple
f.63v Flight into Egypt
f.86v Coronation of the Virgin
f.94 David praying, with combat of David and Goliath above
f.114 Raising of Lazarus
f.114 Virgin and Child, with kneeling female figure in margin