BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rouen, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
174 x 129mm. iii + 144 + ii leaves, the first and last as pastedowns, modern pencilled pagination followed here: 112, 28, 36, 4-58, 610, 7-118, 1210, 13-188, COMPLETE, 15 lines written in dark brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 16 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 93 x 63mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one-line initials with staves of burnished gold on grounds of pink or blue with white decoration with infills in the contrasting colour, line-endings in burnished gold on divided grounds of pink and blue with white decoration, numerous large initials with staves of blue with white decoration on grounds of burnished gold with foliate infills in blue, pink, red and green, two-line initials on rectos with hairline tendrils linking leaves and disks in burnished gold extending into margins, all two-line initials accompanied by a side border in the outer margin with a central acanthus, flower or fruit spray in liquid gold, blue, green, pink and red between hairline tendrils linking leaves and disks in burnished gold with small flowers and fruit in pink, red and blue, three four-line initials accompanied by similar borders to outer margins with single bars of burnished gold, FIFTEEN ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES ACCOMPANIED BY FULL-PAGE BORDERS, and over large initials with bars of burnished gold, most with bands of pink and blue patterned with white, the borders of similar type, that on p.53 of flower and acanthus sprays interspersed with gold disks, five with a figure or roundels (some borders and miniatures slightly rubbed, some ink smudging, two faces repainted on p.74, some damp staining and offsetting to final folios). British 19th-century red morocco gilt, turn-ins gilt (rubbed).
ONE OF THE EARLIEST MANUSCRIPTS ILLUMINATED BY THE MASTER OF THE GENEVA LATINI
1. The liturgical use and the style of the illumination show that the manuscript was produced in Rouen. Among the Rouen saints in the calendar is St Romain in gold (23 October); he is invoked in the Litany along with Sts Ouen and Austreberta. The prayers are in the masculine but the illumination was presumably executed for the lady kneeling by the Lamentation on p.265.
2. E.M. Cox: bookplate inside upper cover.
3. Lt Denys L. Milner: his sale Sotheby's, London, 17 November 1943, lot 362; bought by the firm of Robinson, especially noted for their purchase of the remainder of the manuscripts of Sir Thomas Phillipps.
4. Philip Robinson: from his private library, sold by order of his executors at Sotheby's, London, 6 December 1993, lot 73.
Calendar pp.1-24; Gospel extracts pp.25-36; Obsecro te pp.37-44; O intemerata pp.44-52; Office of the Virgin, use of Rouen pp.53-156: matins p.25, lauds followed by suffrages to the Holy Spirit, Trinity, Sts John the Baptist, Peter, Lawrence, Nicolas, Catherine, Margaret and for peace p.74, prime p.105, terce p.118, sext p.123, none p.129, vespers p.135, compline p.147; Penitential Psalms and Litany pp.157-192; Hours of the Cross pp.193-198; Hours of the Holy Spirit pp.199-204; Office of the Dead, use of Rouen and other Norman dioceses pp.205-264; Fifteen Joys pp.265-277; Seven Requests pp.277-284.
The handsome illumination is by the Master of the Geneva Latini, more appropriately known as the Master of the Échevinage de Rouen from the series of secular manuscripts he painted for the town council of Rouen from the 1450s onwards. His miniatures, with their carefully defined forms and lucid colour-patterning in gold, blue, pink and green, had a profound influence on Norman illumination. His Books of Hours were much in demand and set the design and style of Rouen Hours in the second half of the fifteenth century, see lot 31.
The present Hours is one of the earliest manuscripts attributed to the Master. In the borders, painted motifs and hairline tendrils with burnished gold leaves and disks sparkle against a background of unpainted parchment, as seen in a large manuscript of Norman laws also datable to the 1450s (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, M.457). In most of the Master's books, however, the borders deploy painted motifs on grounds of liquid gold, a technique already evident in the Bouquechardière that he illuminated between 1457 and 1461 for the Échevinage of Rouen. The Bouquechardière is very similar in landscapes and figure style to this Hours, although the Master's characteristic angular figures changed little over the decades.
These miniatures have a painterly finesse not always present in the more streamlined productions of the 1470s and 1480s. The careful detailing of the marginal roundels is matched in the miniatures, for instance by the meticulous highlighting of the silverware displayed behind St Catherine, p.74. Although standard compositional patterns were already being defined, the foreshortened head of the shepherd on p.116 shows the Master still in an ambitiously experimental phase.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
p.25 Four Evangelists with their emblems
p.53 Annunciation with marginal roundel of the Meeting at the Golden Gate
p.74 Visitation (the faces of the Virgin and St Elizabeth rubbed and retouched)
p.101 St Catherine in an interior
p.105 Nativity with attendant midwife, marginal roundel of two shepherds
p.116 Annunciation to the Shepherds
p.123 Adoration of the Magi
p.129 Presentation in the Temple
p.135 Flight into Egypt
p.147 Coronation of the Virgin
p.157 David in penitence with marginal roundel of David and Goliath
p.205 Office of the Dead with marginal roundel of the Last Judgement
p.265 Lamentation with Christ on the Virgin's lap between St John and the Magdalen, the instruments of the Passion displayed, with a marginal figure of a lady praying.