BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rouen, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
179 x 123mm. ii + 134 + i leaves: 16(ii a near-contemporary replacement), 28, 3-44, 5-108(of 9, lacking final singleton), 11-188, modern foliation in pencil 1-136 including vellum endleaves and with two leaves numbered 4 followed here, 17 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 18 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 85 x 58mm, rubrics in blue, one-line initials of liquid gold on grounds alternately blue or red, line-endings of the same colours, two- to four-line initials with staves of white acanthus against grounds of grey or red with a flower spray, TWENTY PAIRED CALENDAR MINIATURES with part-borders with divided grounds made up of coloured sprays of flowers or fruit on liquid gold and monochrome-modelled acanthus on red, blue, brown or green, FIFTEEN LARGE MINIATURES accompanied by full-page borders mostly of liquid gold with sprays of acanthus, fruit and flowers and containing monsters, monkeys and birds, PANEL BORDERS ON EVERY PAGE of the same type, most of them containing a monster (stain to lower margin of f.1). First half 17th-century brown morocco elaborately gilt à la fanfare, covers with cut-out geometrical shapes revealing pink boards beneath, flat spine stamped in gold and silver, gilt edges (some wear to extremities and small losses to revealed paper surface on upper cover, more extensive paper losses on lower cover and two small leather losses, splits at head of spine and upper joint, silver on spine oxidised).
A RICH AND LAVISHLY ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT IN AN EXCEPTIONAL CUT-OUT BINDING
Both the style of illumination and the liturgical use indicate that this Hours was made and intended for use in Rouen. It was destined for a woman who is represented by the figure kneeling before the Virgin and Child on f.127. At some point, presumably by or at the time of its present binding, the folio with the month of February was replaced with the same month from a contemporary manuscript in Dutch.
Calendar ff.3-7v; Gospel Extracts ff.8-13v; prayers to the Virgin, opening with Obsecro te and O Intemerata ff.13v-22v; Office of the Virgin, use of Rouen ff.24-71v: matins f.24, lauds f.33v, prime f.48, terce f.53, sext f.56v, none f.59v, vespers f.62v, compline, lacking end f.68; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.72-88v; Office of the Cross ff.89-91v; Office of the Holy Spirit ff.92-94v; Office of the Dead, use of Rouen ff.95-126v; prayers to the Virgin, opening with Missus est gabriel angelus ad mariam ff.127-135v.
The illumination of this lushly decorated manuscript is in immaculate condition. Exquisitely painted panel borders combine elegant foliage sprays with menacing monsters; precisely rendered figures are close to the picture plane of miniatures, almost obscuring the detailed and decorative settings -- all elements contribute to the impression of rich profusion.
It is a splendid example of the type of manuscript that ensured Rouen's continued success as a centre of production for Books of Hours.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows: St John on Patmos f.8; Tree of Jesse f.23v; Annunciation with bas-de-page scenes of the Virgin weaving and the Fall of Man f.24; Visitation f.33v; Nativity with the Virgin and Joseph adoring the Christchild f.48; Annunciation to the Shepherds f.53; Adoration of the Magi f.56v; Presentation in the Temple f.59v; Flight into Egypt f.62v; Coronation of the Virgin f.68; David and Bathsheba f.72; Crucifixion f.89; Pentecost f.92; Job on the dungheap f.95; Virgin and Child enthroned, with female owner and an angel f.127.