BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rouen, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
165 x 121mm. 96 leaves: 18, 27(of 8, viii cancelled blank), 37(of 8, lacking i with miniature), 48, 53(of 4, iv cancelled blank), 67(of 8, lacking i with miniature), 78, 84, 9-108, 114, 12-148, 17 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 18 horizontals ruled in pink, the first two and the last ruled across the page, justification: 98 x 65mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one- and two-line initials in burnished gold with grounds and infills of pink and blue patterned with white, line endings in pink and blue patterned with white and burnished gold, TWO HISTORIATED INITIALS with blue staves patterned in white on burnished gold grounds with full panel borders on shaped or full grounds of liquid gold with sprays of blue and gold acanthus, naturalistic fruit and flowers and penwork, with burnished gold disks on the parchment grounds, NINE LARGE INITIALS with blue staves patterned with white and foliate infills on grounds of burnished gold accompanying NINE LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES in frames of liquid gold, many architectural, accompanied by full borders of similar type (some offsetting and wear to margins, historiated initial rubbed f.24, miniatures rubbed ff.37v, 40v, 67 and 73, small paint losses to miniature f.48v). Marbled paper, exposing plain corner pieces, over pasteboard, brown leather spine gilt tooled in five compartments with title (scuffed and worn).
1. The style of the illumination makes it likely that this book was produced in Rouen. The Office of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead are for the use of Rouen and the Calendar includes Rouen feasts like Sts Ouen in red (24 Aug) and his translation (5 May), Romain (23 Oct) and translation (17 June) and Mellon (22 Oct). It may have been intended for use elsewhere in Normandy because the calendar was altered to change Clarus from an ordinary feast (17 July) to red (19 July), although his translation is properly celebrated 18 July. His relics were at St-Clair-sur-Epte and he was especially revered at Coutances, Séez and Bayeux.
2. Mid 18th-century French watermark on final paper endleaf: the name J. Cusson. 1446 in ink on top corner piece of upper cover.
Calendar ff.1-12; opening of the Gospel of St John and prayers ff.13-14; Office of the Virgin, use of Rouen ff.16-52: matins, lacking opening f.16, lauds, followed by memorials to the Holy Spirit, Sts Nicholas and Catherine f.24, prime, lacking opening f.34, terce f.37v, sext f.40v, none f.43, vespers f.46, compline f.48v; Penitential Psalms ff.53-63; Litany and prayers ff.63-66v; Hours of the Cross ff.67-69v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.70-72v; Office of the Dead, use of Rouen, ff.73-96.
In the later 15th century Rouen became a great book producing centre. The Books of Hours made there commanded a ready market for the skill and clarity of their miniatures, whose rich colouring is repeated in the handsome borders. As in some other Rouen Hours, the Presentation in the Temple appears at sext, before the Adoration of the Magi; the scene is presumably intended for the Circumcision which did precede the arrival of the Three Kings. This book probably dates from the end of the century, when figures had broadened in response to the new classicising aesthetic imported from Italy and when dramatic 'close-ups' became fashionable, as seen here in the curtailed view of the donkey at the Flight into Egypt, f.46. The direct appeal of its miniatures exemplifies the qualities which fuelled, and satisfied, the popular demand for Rouen books.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.37v Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.40v Presentation in the Temple
f.43 Adoration of the Magi
f.46 Flight into Egypt
f.48v Coronation of the Virgin
f.53 David at prayer before an altar, his confrontation with Goliath visible through an archway
f.73 Funeral Mass
The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows:
f.13 St John on Patmos; f.24 Visitation