BOOK OF HOURS, use of Sarum in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[probably Bruges, c.1450]
80 x 58mm, iii + 164 + vi leaves (lacking ff.32, 157, foliation includes first three added leaves, skips leaves after ff.11, 41, 60, 141, skipped number 77, foliates last vi leaves as ff.166-171): 1-26, 39(i a singleton), 48, 58(i & iv singletons), 6-108, 116, 12-138, 149(viii a singleton), 15-178, 189(iv, v & vi singletons), 198, 207(vii a singleton), 217(viii a singleton), miniatures on singletons, 16 lines in brown ink written in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in pink, justification: 42 x 31mm, rubrics in red, line-endings in burnished gold, blue or red, one-line initials alternately in burnished gold flourished with dark blue and in blue flourished with red, two-line initials in burnished gold with grounds and infills in pink and blue patterned with white, SEVEN HISTORIATED INITIALS and seven large foliate initials with staves of pink or blue patterned with white on grounds of burnished gold, each with a burnished gold bar to inner margin and partial borders of hairline tendrils with trefoil or disk terminals in burnished gold amid sprays of acanthus, flowers and fruit in blue, green, pink and red, ONE LARGE HISTORIATED INITIAL and four large foliate initials with staves of pink or blue patterned with white on grounds of burnished gold with bars of burnished gold and full-page borders as above, FOUR FULL-PAGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES with full-page borders as above (slight smudging and offsetting of ink, smudging of miniature f.36v, borders slightly trimmed, some leaves puckered, hole in margin f.61). Modern English red morocco gilt.
1. The illumination indicates Bruges as the likely place of production. The Calendar includes some southern Netherlandish saints but is predominantly English with the translations of Thomas Becket (7 July) and of Edward the Confessor (13 October) in red. The Litany leans more to the Netherlands with Sts Gildard, Medard, Vedast and Amand outweighing the English saints Swithin and Edith, yet the Sarum use of the Hours of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead shows that it was intended for an English owner, as do the Memorials where in an additional sequence, ff.16-25, St Thomas Becket is invoked for a second time and distinguished by an historiated initial. The intended owner may have been female, for the one soul carried aloft to God, f.140v, is unmistakeably female.
2. Miss Robinson: sale in these rooms 6 May 1920, lot 105, bought Spencer.
Calendar ff.4-14; 15 prayers to the image of Christ, the 15 Oes of St Bridget O jhesu christe eterne dulcedo ff.16-25; Suffrages ff.25v-35v: to Sts John the Baptist ff.25v-26v, Thomas Becket ff.27-28v, George ff.28v-29v, Christopher ff.29v-30v, Mary Magdalen (lacking end) ff.31-32v, Catherine (lacking opening) f.33, Barbara ff.33v-34v, Margaret ff.34v-35v; Office of the Virgin secundum usum angliae: matins ff.37-45, lauds ff.46-55, followed by memorials to the Holy Spirit, the Trinity, the Cross, Sts Michael, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Andrew, Stephen, Lawrence, Thomas Becket, Nicholas, Mary Magdalen, Catherine, Margaret, All Saints, for peace, the Cross ff.55-61v, prime f.62-66v, terce ff.67-69v, sext ff.70-72v, none ff.73-75v, vespers ff.76-79, compline ff.80-85; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.86-96v; incipits of the first twelve Gradual Psalms and the last three in full f.96v-99; Litany and prayers ff.99-108; Office of the Dead use of Sarum ff.110-139v; Commendation of Souls ff.141-156v; Psalms (lacking opening) ff.158-163
This tiny volume was designed to be easily portable and could have been attached to clothing as a protective talisman.
On such a small scale the illuminator relies heavily on line to detail and define his pictures. The minute initials contain landscapes with trees and hills, some with blue skies and others with pink backgrounds ornamented with gold, as in the miniature of the soul rising to heaven. The patterned backgrounds are typical of the Bruges Masters of the Gold Scrolls, whose work on a larger scale can be seen in lots 53, 55 and 57, but this hand shows some distinct characteristics. The miniatures, on tipped-in leaves, are in the same style as the historiated initials, while borders to miniatures and text pages are from one hand. The book was produced by a single team of illuminators, who successfully tackled the challenge of this truly miniature format.
The subjects of the full-page miniatures are as follows:
f.15v Christ as Saviour, holding an open book and blessing with one foot on a globe of the world
f.109v Clerics by a coffin in a church
f.140v A female soul carried aloft to God by angels
The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows:
St John the Baptist f.25v, St Thomas Becket f.27, St George f.28v, St Christopher f.29v, St Mary Magdalen f.31, St Barbara f.33v, St Margaret f.34v, Annunciation f.37