BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rouen, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
179 x 133mm. 172 leaves: 112, 2-98, 106, 11-128, 137(of 8, lacking v probably with miniature), 148, 154, 167(of 8, lacking i probably with miniature), 17-208, 217(of 8, lacking vi, probably with miniature), 229(of 8, ix a singleton), 15 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 16 horizontals ruled in dark pink, justification: 106 x 70mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one- and two-line initials of burnished gold on blue or red grounds with infills of the contrasting colour and white tracery decoration, similar line-endings, SIXTEEN LARGE INITIALS of blue or dark pink with white tracery against grounds of burnished gold with ivy-leaf sprays or flower-heads and geometric patterns in orange, red and blue, with accompanying bar-border, ALL WITH THREE-QUARTER PAGE BORDERS with sprays of blue and gold acanthus and hairline tendrils with gold trefoil terminals, with flowers and fruit in blue, red, green and gold, ONE LARGE HISTORIATED INITIAL with similar three-sided border, TWO LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES with accompanying two-sided baguette borders with ivy-leaf and floral decoration on burnished gold, with similar full-page borders, the first incorporating birds (corner of border to first minaiature lightly rubbed, a few small pigment losses to both miniatures, affecting the Virgin's dress and the face of God, gathering 21 with cuts to gutter of iv & v, occasional marginal stains or offsetting). Black velvet over pasteboard, panelled in blind, pink watered silk endpapers (lacking clasp, extremities rubbed and frayed, some wax).
1. The style of the illumination, liturgical use of the Offices of the Virgin and of the Dead, and the feasts of the Calendar which include St Romain, Bishop of Rouen, (23 October), St Gervasius (June 19) and St Martial (3 July) in gold, indicate that the manuscript was made in Rouen. However there is also a possible connection with Coutances or St Lô in western Normandy, suggested by the inclusion of the prayer to Saint Laudus, or St Lô, mentioning locus nomen honorem tuum consecratus. This commemoration to St Lô, the patron saint of Coutances, is relatively uncommon and interestingly recalls the exquisite so-called Hours of Saint-Lô or Rothschild Hours, from the Jaime Ortiz-Patiño Collection (Sotheby's NY, April 21, 1998, lot 37).
2. Suffrages to St Michael Archangel, Sts Peter and Paul, St Christopher, St Claudius, St Barbara and St Apollonius have been added in an early 16th-century hand, ff.160-163, making it clear that these saints were important to a later owner of the manuscript.
3. Ownership relating to the Monastery of St Vigor-le-grand, Bayeux: the additional inscription on the final leaves, opening with a large initial, is a copy of a Charter dated 1096 in which the knight Roger Malusfilaster grants the church of St Luzy and its lands to the monastery of St Vigor-le-grand, near Bayeux.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel Extracts ff.13-18; Obsecro te ff.18v-22v; Commendation of the soul, Sancta Maria mater domini ff.22v-23; O Intemerata ff.23-27; prayer to the Virgin, O sponsa virgo sancta ff.27v-28; Office of the Virgin, use of Rouen ff.29-77v: matins f.29, lauds f.39v, prime f.51, terce f.56v, sext f.60, none f.63v, vespers f.67, compline f.73; Votive Mass of the Virgin f.78-79v; Hours of the Conception of the Virgin ff.80-82v; Penitential Psalms ff.83-94v; Litany and three collects/orations ff.95-102v; Prayer to the Cross, lacking opening f.103; Hours of the Cross ff.103v-110v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.111-117v; Office of the Dead, use of Rouen, lacking opening ff.118-160; collects ff.160v-161v; Suffrages, lacking opening ff.162-171: to Sebastian f.162v, St John the Baptist f.163v, St Christopher f.164, St Lawrence f.165v, St Lô, Bishop of Coutances f.166, St Romain f.166v, St Anthony f.167, St Hildebert f.167v, St Nicholas f.168v, St Anne f.169, St Mary Magdalene f.169v, St Margaret f.170, St Catherine f.170v; added prayers in a later gothic hand ff.171-2.
The decorative features of this attractive Book of Hours show that it issued from the highly productive workshop of the Master of the Geneva Latini, and it is likely that the skilfully painted miniatures were executed by the Master himself. The Master of the Geneva Latini is more appropriately known as the Master of the Rouen Échevinage, his principal work being a series of secular manuscripts painted for the library of the magistrates (échevins) of Rouen from the later 1450s to the 1480s. As his commissions from the town government suggest, he was the leading illuminator in Rouen and his style dominated manuscript illumination in Normandy in the third quarter of the 15th century. The Master's easily recognizable repertoire of compositional elements and decorative vocabulary is evident in the present miniatures, notably the long-limbed figures, the detailed patterning of textiles and the elaborate architectural constructions offering views through arcades or windows to landscapes beyond. The Master's compositions were often repeated, and the miniature of David in Penitence here, is almost identical to compositions found in other manuscripts (see the Library of William Foyle, these rooms 11 July 2000, lot 47). Also of note are the finely painted figures of Adam and Eve placed on the canopy above the Virgin's head in the Annunciation, reminiscent of those in the Annunciation miniature in the Hours of St Lô (see above). The figures of Adam and Eve, representing the Fall of Man, are often placed within Annunciation scenes, alluding to the perception of the Virgin as the second Eve, her purity overriding the sin of the first.
The subjects of the miniatures and historiated initial are:
f.80 Meeting at the Golden Gate (initial)
f.83 David praying