BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rouen, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript
[Rouen, c.1470]Illuminated by the Maître de l'Echerinage de Rouen.
95 x 74mm. iii + 183 +ii leaves: 18, 24, 37(of 8, viii cancelled blank), 4-68, 79(ix a singleton), 88, 97(of 8, lacking i with miniature), 10-148, 157(of 8, lacking i with miniature), 167(of 8, lacking vii with miniature), 176, 18-248, 13 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and fourteen horizontals ruled in pink, top and bottom across margins, text justification: 48 x 25mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one-line initials of burnished gold against grounds of pink and blue with white decoration, line-endings of the same colours, two- and three-line initials with staves of blue against grounds of burnished gold with trefoil spray in the infill, all two-line initials accompanied by a panel border on one or both sides made up sprays of blue and gold acanthus, naturalistic fruit and flowers and gold disks on hairline tendrils with fruit or flowerhead terminals, SIXTEEN ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES accompanied by full-page borders of the same forms but on shaped or full grounds of liquid gold and containing birds and animals, an additional full-page border to open the Calendar (opening leaves slightly darkened, occasional smudges to ink of border, slight surface abrasion and smudge to face of maidservant in Presentation in the Temple, and small loss of pigment from the Virgin's face and Elizabeth's robe in the Visitation). Pastiche 'grolieresque' binding by Martin in green morocco with red, blue and olive inlays, silver clasps and catches (slight crack at head of upper joint).
AN EXTENSIVELY AND EXQUISITELY ILLUMINATED MINIATURE HOURS BY THE MASTER OF THE ECHEVINAGE OF ROUEN
1. The style of illumination, liturgical use of the Offices of the Virgin and of the Dead, the feasts of the Calendar (st romaing, in gold, 23 October) show the manuscript to have been made in Rouen and for use in that diocese. The man for whom it was made is shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child on folio 178v. It is unusual for the opening of a Calendar to have a full-page border; the presence of such a border with a small squirrel within a wreath in the centre of the lower margin suggests the possibility that this is a reference to the identity of the owner. The presence in the Calendar of the feasts of St Dominic, St Vincent Ferrer and St Thomas Aquinas written in gold and the sequence of Suffrages to Dominican saints indicate that he had a particularly Dominican devotion.
2. Charles Agasse: his ownership inscription in a 17th-century hand on first rear endleaf
3. Monogram E and A superimposed impressed on first two medieval endleaves
4. Dyson Perrins collection: bookplate and label inside front endleaf, label 'Perrins collection 16' inside rear silk endleaf, renumbered 43 for the Warner catalogue, Dyson Perrins sale Sotheby's 9 December 1958, lot 30
Calendar ff.1-12; Obsecro te and Salve regina ff.13-18v; Office of the Virgin, use of Rome ff.20-82v: matins f.20, lauds f.33 followed by Suffrages to the Holy Spirit, Sts Catherine, Nicholas, Dominic, Peter Martyr, Thomas Confessor, Vincent Confessor and Catherine of Siena f.47v, prime f.53, terce f.61 (lacking opening), sext f.65v, none f.70, vespers f.74, compline f.78; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.84-107v; Hours of the Cross ff.108-112v (lacking opening); Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.113-118; Gospel Extracts ff.119-127v: Luke f.119, Matthew f.121 (lacking opening), Mark f.123, John f.125; Suffrage to John the Baptist followed by other prayers ff.128-135; Office of the Dead, use of Rouen ff.136-178; O Intemerata ff.178v-183v
This exquisite little book is an example of the very highest quality work of the illuminator often called the Master of the Geneva Latini, but more appropriately known as the Master of the Rouen Échevinage: his principal work is a series of secular manuscripts he painted for the library of the magistrates (échevins) of Rouen in the second half of the 15th century.
The compositions and decorative vocabulary of the present manuscript are familiar from other Books of Hours that issued from his productive workshop, but here they are executed with a finesse and attention far removed from the more routine works associated with this illuminator's name. In spite of the small scale the miniatures and borders are highly detailed and rich in incident: textiles are patterned and gilt, architecture is elaborately articulated and interiors may include arcades with views into the landscape beyond. The narrative content is similarly expanded and scenes often contain ancillary characters or events. Compared with the large-format secular volumes that the Master painted for the library of the Rouen Échevinage, this small, intimate and personal prayerbook is at the other extreme in scale and function; yet the Master has lavished as much care and attention to its decoration as he did to his most prestigious civic commissions. The appearance and dress of the owner on f.178v suggests one reason for that; it seems probable that he was one of the échevins.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 Pietà, with the body of Christ across the lap of the Virgin who is flanked by John the Evangelist and the Magdalen, two angels above
f,53 Nativity, with the Virgin and Joseph and an angel in adoration of the Christ Child
f.65v Adoration of the Magi
f.70 Presentation in the Temple
f.74 Flight into Egypt, with the miracle of the growing corn in the background
f.78 Coronation of the Virgin, with Christ and the Virgin side by side on a double throne, two music-making angels and a third placing a crown on the Virgin's head
f.84 David in Penitence, the king kneeling in a richly appointed loggia praying towards a hovering angel wielding a sword, a central mandorla with God the Father
f.119 St Luke writing at a desk, his ox beside him
f.123 St Mark blowing on his pen, his lion sitting before him
f.125 St John on Patmos writing on a scroll, flanked by his eagle and a demon tipping his inkwell
f.128 St John the Baptist
f.136 Four monks and friars on a bench reading their Breviaries with a naked corpse lying on a shroud in the foreground, St Michael and a devil fighting for his soul in the sky above
f.178v Virgin and Child enthroned with the owner kneeling in devotion