BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rouen, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
184 x 126mm. i + 139 + i leaves, COMPLETE, 15 lines written in a gothic bookhand in dark brown ink between 2 verticals and 16 horizontals ruled in dark pink, justification: 94 x 60mm, rubrics in red, text-capitals touched yellow, one- and two-line initials of burnished gold against grounds and infills of pink and blue with white penwork decoration, line-endings of the same colours, major texts opening with three-line initials of blue with infill sprays of red, orange and blue all against grounds of burnished gold, each page with a two-line initial having a panel border with a spray of blue and gold acanthus and curling hairline tendrils of gold leaves and trefoils terminating in naturalistic fruit and flower sprays, pages with a three-line initial having a three-quarter border of similar type, EIGHT LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES accompanied by FULL-PAGE BORDERS with divided grounds with sprays of naturalistic flowers against plain vellum and shaped fields of liquid gold, the latter also with monochrome sprays of pink or blue acanthus and occasional figures or birds (slight smudging or rubbing in a few borders and to the face of Christ in the Crucifixion). Late 16th-century tan morocco gilt 'à la fanfare', spine gilt in six compartments with raised bands (slight rubbing of corners and lower edge of lower cover, two of bands rubbed).
1. The use of the Office of the Virgin and the style of illumination show that the manuscript was made in Rouen; presumably for a woman, who is represented by the figure kneeling in devotion in the miniature introducing the Joys of the Virgin (f.131), who may have been an ancestor of the de Lombelon, one of the most ancient houses of Normandy.
2. The de Lombelon, Seigneurs des Essarts: the birth and baptism in 1592 of Alexandre, son of Louis de Lombelon is recorded on the front flyleaf. Alexandre, Gouverneur des Villes et Château de Verneil married Madeleine de Saint-Aignan in 1609 and the births and baptisms of their children between 1611 and 1618 are recorded in the lower borders of the Calendar, as are those of the children born between 1630 and 1633 of Louise de Lombelon, daughter of Alexandre and wife of Pierre de Montmorency, Baron de Lauresse, Chevalier des Ordres du Roi. The latest birth recorded on ff.13v and 14 is that in 1643 of Pierre-Franois, son of Tanneguy de Lombelon, Baron des Essarts and Grand-Sénéchal de la Province du Maine. The third of Alexandre's children was Madeleine, wife of Franois de la Rivière, it seems probable that she was responsible for the record of the births of her siblings' children. Her own daughter was Louise-Madeleine-Josèphe.
3. Louise-Madeleine-Josèphe de la Rivière de Vaux who married Joseph de Mailly d'Haucourt, Seigneur, Marquis de Mailly-Haucourt, Assigny, St-Léger etc in 1704. Their eldest son was Joseph Augustin, Comte de Mailly, Maréchal de France who, after Louis XVI's flight from Paris, was charged by the king with the defence of his château at Varennes. In spite of being 86 his loyalty cost the Comte de Mailly his life; he was guillotined in 1794.
4. Louis Marie, Comte de Mailly d'Haucourt, Duc de Mailly and Maréchal des camps, son of Joseph-Augustin, Comte de Mailly: an inscription inside the upper cover records both the gift of the manuscript from Louis Marie in 1774, and the fact that he had had the book from his grandmother.
5. ?John Sweetman: his signature on the verso of the rear fly-leaf.
6. Thomas Weld-Blundell (d.1887): his bookplate on the inside of the lower cover. Thomas Weld added Blundell to his name in 1837 after inheriting Ince Blundell Hall and the collections there formed by Henry Blundell and his son Charles. The manuscript continued at Ince Blundell until this century, and by descent to the present owner. Thomas Weld-Blundell was the grandson of Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle (1750-1810), founder of Stonyhurst College, who owned the Bedford Psalter and Luttrell Psalter before their acquisition by the British Library. It is yet to be established whether this manuscript and the preceding and following lots descended from Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle or from the Blundells.
Calendar ff.1-12; Gospel Extracts ff.13-18v; Obsecro te ff.18v-22v O Intemerata ff.22v-26v; Office of the Virgin ff.27-75: matins f.27, lauds f.37, Suffrages f.47, prime f.52, terce f.57, sext f.59v, none f.62, vespers f.64v, compline f.71; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.76-88; Litany ff.88-93v; matins of the Short Hours of the Cross ff.94-96v; matins of the Short Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.98-100v; Office of the Dead ff.102-130v; Fifteen Joys of the Virgin ff.131-139v
This Books of Hours is a characteristic product from the workshop of the Master of the Échevinage de Rouen, also known as the Master of the Geneva Latini, the leading illuminator of Rouen whose style dominated manuscript illumination in Normandy in the third quarter of the 15th century. The lively, long-limbed figures are the familiar types, and some of the miniatures repeat compositions found in other Books of Hours illuminated by the Master around 1470: see for example C. de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts (1986) figs 186-189. The borders of the present manuscript are more unusual and are comparable to those in the Landau Hours (Beck collection sale, Sotheby's 16 June 1997, lot 26) in their combination of monochrome acanthus and the marginal roundels augmenting the theme of the main miniatures.
The output of the workshop of the Master of the Échevinage de Rouen was variable in quality and finish, but the present manuscript is an attractive representative of its mainstream production, and is closely comparable in style to some of the later commissions, after which the Master is named, illuminated for the magistrates of Rouen: for example Le livre des trois âges de l'homme (Paris, BN, Smith-Lesouëf 70); F. Avril & N. Reynaud, Les Manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 quadripartite miniature of the Evangelists
f.27 Annunciation, with a roundel in the lower border with the Tree of Jesse against a black ground
f.52 Nativity with the Virgin, Joseph and a midwife adoring the Christchild, the ox, ass and two shepherds looking on
f.76 David in prayer, roundel in the lower border with the Last Judgement
f.94 Crucifixion with the swooning Virgin supported by the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene to the left, and Longinus and soldiers to the right
f.98 Pentecost with the Virgin flanked by Sts John the Evangelist and Peter in the foreground
f.102 Burial service with an angel and a devil fighting over the soul at the rear of the cemetary, with a roundel in the lower margin with a deathbed scene showing the ministration of the Last Rites
f.131 Pietà with the Evangelist and two Maries on one side of the Virgin and a praying woman, the intended owner, kneeling on the other