BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rouen, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
185 x 125 mm. i + 120 + i leaves: COMPLETE, 16 lines written in dark brown ink in gothic textura script between 2 verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in pale red ink, justification: 98 x 66 mm, Calendar in burnished gold, red and blue, rubrics in red, one-line initials in burnished gold on square grounds of mauve or blue filled with the other colour with white penwork decoration, similar line-fillers, two-, three- and four-line initials in blue with white penwork decoration on bunished gold grounds with infilling of burnished gold and ivyleaves or buds in orange and blue, each page with one-quarter border of scrolling blue and liquid gold acanthus interspered with leaves, flowers and berries on hairline stems, 17 full borders of similar composition but with the addition of liquid-gold-panelled grounds and inhabited by birds and grotesque animals, TWENTY-FOUR SMALL CALENDAR MINIATURES, SIXTEEN LARGE MINIATURES in arched frames, of which five with a total of 10 BORDER VIGNETTES (light stains in a few margins, a few borders slightly smudged, several miniatures with flaking pigment or repainted areas).
Early 16th-century French panel-stamped calf over wooden boards, St Barbara on front cover, inscription 'Sancta Barbara ora pro nobis deum', St John the Baptist on back cover (worn), inscription 'Vng dieu Sancte Johannes ung roy une foy Ora pro nobis une loy', evidence of two clasps, gilt edges, bifolia from an unfinished small-format 15th-century psalter manuscript as flyleaves (a few small wormholes, neatly rebacked retaining original backstrip). Modern red morocco pull-off case.
The plaques used on this binding belong to a group of Paris panels dated c. 1500-1510 (P. Needham, Twelve Centuries of Bookbindings, New York 1979, no 36, reproducing a panel of St John the Baptist on a binding in the Pierpont Morgan Library). The set of panels includes St Barbara, found here, and five very similar representations of St John the Baptist (Needham, op. cit.; J.B. Oldham, Blind Panels of English Binders, Cambridge 1958, p.37, ST.2 and p.41, ST.28-31). The St John on the present binding is so worn that it cannot be identified with certainty. Probably it is Oldham ST.31, but it may be a later use of the Morgan panel, with the outside borders of twining foliage removed (cf. Oldham, ST.28, regarding one of the other St John panels which which was treated similarly). Since some of the panels in this set were used in England, it is possible that they travelled there by way of Rouen and that this binding is of provincial manufacture.
1. Made in Rouen for use there, presumably by the kneeling lady depicted on f.114
2. Madam Lespect, rue Pigeon, Rouen: 16th-century inscription, f.13
3. Jacques-Annibal Claret de Fleurieu de La Tourrette (1692-1776) of Lyons, French man of letters, president of the mint and provost of the merchants of Lyons: engraved armorial bookplate dated Lyons, 1719
4. Dionysii Vasil'evich: modern inscription in Cyrillic script on flyleaf
(ff.1-12v) Calendar of Rouen in French, including these feasts: Vincent (Jan. 22, gold), Translation of St Anne (Jan. 30), Sever (Feb. 1), Ausbert (Feb. 9), Austreberte (Feb. 10), Aubin (Mar. 1), Hugh (Apr. 9), Maur (Apr. 25, gold), Vitalis (Apr. 28), Translation of St Ouen (May 5), Desiderius (May 23), Translation of St Ouen (June 17), Godard (June 8), Eloi (June 25, gold), Martial (July 3, gold), Martin (July 4, gold), Translation of St Thomas à Becket (July 7), Wandrille (July 23), St Sauveur (Aug. 6), Taurin (Aug. 11), Louis (Aug. 25, gold), Denis (Oct. 9, gold), Nicaise (Oct. 11), Dedication of Mont St Michel (Oct. 16), Mellon (Oct. 22), Romain (Oct. 23), Ursin (Dec. 30); (f.13 originally a ruled blank, 16th-century inscription and prayers in French added on recto); (ff.14-18v) Gospel sequences; (ff.18v-21) Obsecro te, in masculine form; (ff.21-24) O intemerata, in masculine form; (f.24v blank); (ff.25-33v) Hours of the Virgin, use of Rouen, Matins; (ff.34-44v) Lauds, followed by suffrages with rubrics in French; (ff.45-49) Prime; (ff.49v-52) Terce; (ff.52v-54v) Sext; (ff.55-57) None; (ff.57v-62) Vespers; (ff.62v-66) Compline; (f.66v blank); (ff.67-82v) Penitential Psalms and litany; (ff.83-85v) Hours of the Cross; (ff.86-88v) Hours of the Holy Spirit; (ff.89-113v) Office of the Dead, use of Rouen; (ff.114-117v) Joys of the Virgin, in French; (ff.118-120v) Seven requests to the Lord, followed by Prayer to the Cross, in French
This is a good example of the Books of Hours that the Rouen book-trade were so successful in supplying. The repertoire of scenes, the jaunty, long-limbed figures and the varied and detailed settings place this illustration in the circle of the Master of the Geneva Latini (also known as the Master of the Échevinage de Rouen), the artist whose style dominated manuscript illumination in Normandy in the third quarter of the 15th century.
The subjects of the calendar miniatures are:
January: Janus feasting (f.1), Baptism of Christ (f.1v); February: Warming oneself (f.2), Jonah thrown to the whale (f.2v); March: Pruning the vines (f.3), Sacrifice of Isaac (f.3v); April: Man giving a flower to a woman in an enclosed garden (f.4), Noah's ark (f.4v); May: Man and woman riding on a single horse (f.5), Creation of Eve (f.5v); June: Haymaking (f.6), Job on the dung heap, visited by three musicians (f.6v); July: Reaping (f.7), Daniel in the lions' den (f.7v); August: Threshing (f.8), Assumption of the Virgin (f.8v); September: Treading the vintage (f.9), Money changers (f.9v); October: Sowing (f.10), Pharaoh and his army swallowed by the Red Sea (f.10v); November: Fattening pigs, a woman spinning (f.11), St Katherine (f.11v); December: Preparing to slaughter the pig (f.12), Baking (f.12v)
The subjects of the large miniatures and accompanying vignettes are:
f.14 Four evangelists
f.25 Annunciation. Vignettes: Adam, Eve and the serpent; Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gates; Marriage of the Virgin
f.45 Nativity. Vignettes: 3 musicians; Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl
f.49v Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.52v Adoration of the Magi
f.53 Presentation in the Temple
f.57v Flight into Egypt
f.62v Coronation of the Virgin
f.67 Penitence of David (David before his throne kneeling in prayer, his harp on the ground beside him, facing Uriah, who stands before him wearing a sword and pointing to God and an angel of vengence above). Vignettes: David and Goliath; the Last Judgement
f.89 The three living and the three dead. Vignettes: Harrowing of hell, Burial of the dead
f.114 Pietà, at the foot of the cross, with John, the three Marys and a kneeling female donor looking on. Vignette: Trinity (God the Father enthroned, holding Christ on the cross in front of him, the dove above Christ's head)
f.118 Trinity (God the Father, blessing and holding the orb, and Christ, holding the cross and a book, enthroned side-by-side, the dove between them, accompanied by an angel playing the harp)