BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rouen, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Rouen, c.1500]197 x 133mm. iv (i as pastedown) + 63 leaves + iv (iv as pastedown): 16, 28, 37(of 8, lacking vi), 46(of 8, lacking iv and vii), 54(of 8, lacking ii, iv, vi and viii), 62, 78, 87(of 8, lacking iii), 98, 107(of 8, lacking iii), 25 lines written in black ink in a lettre bâtarde in two columns between four verticals and 26 horizontals ruled in red, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, numerous one-line initials in gold of grounds of red or blue decorated with gold, line endings in gold on grounds of red or blue, two- to four-line initials with white acanthus on darker staves enclosing flower sprigs in red, pink, blue and green on gold grounds, PANEL BORDERS ON 52 PAGES with flower and fruit sprays and acanthus in full colour on gold grounds in the outer margin linked to bars in gold, blue and red framing the text in all other margins, 8 FULL PANEL BORDERS of similar type with beasts and birds, 24 SMALL CALENDAR MINIATURES and THREE FULL-PAGE MINIATURES IN RENAISSANCE ARCHITECTURAL FRAMES in gold and colours (lacking nine leaves with miniatures and text, slight rubbing to miniatures and some borders). 16th-century brown goatskin with red goatskin onlays tooled in gilt à la fanfare, gilt spine panels (lacking two clasps, repairs to spine). Modern brown morocco box, spine titled in gilt, with Lord Perth's goshawk crest at head.
1. Both the content and style of this Hours suggest that it was made in Rouen, probably for the open market. Prayers are in the masculine.
2. Madame de Montebise: sixteenth century inscription inside upper cover ce livres apartient a madame de montebise si quelqun le trouve espere que…. The family of Bernard, seigneurs de Montebise, from Orléans rose through royal service, based in the capital. Jacques Bernard de Montebise was councillor in the chambre des deniers; his son Bernard in 1578 became conseiller secretaire du Roi, Maison et Couronne de France. The elaborate fanfare binding appears Parisian and may have been executed for Madame de Montebise. The acquisition of the book may be linked to Nicolas Bernard de Montebise, who was général des finance at Caen in 1556.
(?); shelf mark: h 147.
4. Perhaps a member of the Carter or Haseldon families: armorial book plate inside upper cover, gules, a cross flory or, a chief azure, three buckles argent, with a lion crest and the motto benigno numine.
5. Arthur K. Nicholson: presented to him by his father, November 23rd, 1898, his father's ninetieth birthday, as inscribed inside upper cover.
Calendar with Norman feasts, including St Romain of Rouen in gold (Oct 23), ff.1-6; Gospel Extracts ff.7v-10v; Obsecro te and O intemerata ff.10v-14v; Office of the Virgin, use of Rouen, followed after each hour from lauds by the Hours of the Cross and of the Holy Spirit, both very defective: matins lacking end ff.15v-19v, lauds lacking opening ff.20-24v, prime lacking opening and end ff.25-26, terce ff.27-28, sext lacking opening and end f.29, none lacking end f.30, vespers lacking opening f.31, compline lacking opening ff.32-33; Penitential Psalms ff.34v-40v; Litany with several Rouen saints ff.40v-43v; Office of the Dead, use of Rouen, lacking opening and end ff.44-58v; Stabat mater, followed by prayers, including a memorial of St Romain, ff.59-63v.
This handsome and profusely illuminated book of hours appears to be painted by the same hands who worked on another Rouen hours of the early sixteenth century: Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms Douce 72. In the miniatures of both volumes, similar figures appear within classicising frames enlivened by pot-bellied cherubs and hanging cords and tassels; compositions also recur, with the Calendar miniatures being particularly close in design. A third Rouen Hours in the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, ms 25, is closely related in style and composition. All three share the two-column layout, which is unusual for manuscript Books of Hours despite the famous and illustrious precedent of the Très riches heures of the Duke of Berry. (see R. Watson, The Playfair Hours, 1984, esp.pp.42, 49-51, 73; L.M.J. Delaissé et al., The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Illuminated Manuscripts, 1977, pp.551-560).
The full-page miniatures are as follows: the four Evangelists f.7, the Annunciation f.15, David and Bathsheba f.34.
The Calendar miniatures are as follows: man feasting, Aquarius in river f.1, man warming himself, Pisces in river f.1v; men pruning, Aries in landscape f.2; lovers, Taurus f.2v; hawking, Gemini as nude man and woman embracing in bushes f.3; haymaking, Cancer f.3v; corn harvest, Leo f.4; winnowing and threshing, Virgo f.4v; treading grapes, Libra f.5; sowing seed, Scorpio f.5v; knocking down acorns for pigs, Sagittarius f.6; pig killing, Capricorn f.6v.