BOOK OF HOURS, use of Sarum, in Latin and English, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
110 x 75mm. 159 leaves: 19(i a singleton), 24, 38, 4-66, 78, 8-96, 10-198, 206, 218, 224, 232, according to pencil foliation lacking two prefatory leaves, otherwise apparently COMPLETE, this foliation running from 3-160 followed here, 19 lines written in black ink in a hybrid bookhand between two verticals and 20 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 70 x 48mm, rubrics in red, text area bordered with liquid gold and red fillets, one-line initials and linefillers alternately of red or blue with frondy decoration in liquid gold, two- and three-line initials with staves of pink or blue against a ground of liquid gold with flowersprays and black dots SIXTY-THREE MINIATURES IN FULL-PAGE RENAISSANCE ARCHITECTURAL FRAMES, with vases, masks and putti. SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SILVER-EMBROIDERED GREEN VELVET (edges very slightly rubbed). Tan morocco box, gilt with green and brown morocco onlays incorporating Hauck device and initials and dated 1950.
AN EXQUISITE FRENCH BOOK OF HOURS WITH VERSES IN ENGLISH
1. Everything about the appearance of the manuscript, script, illumination and vellum, locates its production in Paris yet the contents show it was made for an English owner. The Calendar contains in red the feasts of Edward the Martyr (March 18) and his Translation (20 June), St Thomas à Becket (29 December) and His Translation (7 July), and the Translation of St Edward the Confessor (13 October), in addition to many other saints especially venerated in Britain. The liturgical use of the Offices of the Virgin and of the Dead is Sarum. The manuscript can be dated very precisely: the Easter Table opens for the year 1530 and the date 1532 is painted into the frame around the Martyrdom of St Lawrence.
It is rare enough to find a French manuscript produced for the English market, but it is entirely exceptional that underneath most miniatures of the present Hours there are explanatory rhyming quatrains in English. Beneath the miniature of the Adoration of the Magi, for example the following four lines are written in red:
'How tre cynges of straunge nations
Of chrystes byrth hayvng intellygence
Unto betheem brought theyr oblacyons
Of golde of myire and frankencence.'
The uneasy ductus of the script, the occasional inversions or omission of letters and inappropriate word divisions suggest that the scribe was not a fluent reader of English. There is a precedence for these rhymes in the Prymer printed by François Regnault in Paris in 1527 (S.T.C.15955) and it seems likely that, wanting an extensively illustrated Sarum Hours, the deviser or commissioner of the present manuscript turned to the recently published Prymer as a model.
It is most unlikely that such a costly and individual manuscript was made speculatively, yet there is nothing to identify the original owner; perhaps the two leaves once foliated 1 and 2 carried heraldic paintings. Or perhaps it was made as a gift: one could imagine it being commissioned by a member of François I's court to be given to a member of Henry VIII's court. The year 1532 was the high-point of Anglo-French amity, and Anne Boleyn, who had spent much of her youth at the French court, played an important part in this. François supported Henry's case for the divorce that would enable marriage to Anne, and she was given a position of honour at the meeting between the two kings at Calais in October of that year. Like the Field of the Cloth of Gold, this was again an occasion of sumptuous display and the exchange of opulent gifts.
2. Harvey Frost: his ex-libris on front endleaf.
3.Purchased from Harry A. Levinson 1 January 1954.
Easter Table running from 1530-1546 ff.3r&v; Calendar ff.4-15v; Passion of Christ according to St John ff.16-23v; Gospel extracts ff.24-29; Office of the Virgin, use of Sarum mixed with Short Hours of the Cross from lauds ff.30-76v: matins f.30, lauds f.37, prime 46, terce f.51, sext f.56, none f.60, vespers f.64, compline 70v; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.77v-87v; Litany and a sequence of prayers ff.88-95v; Verses of St Bernard ff.96-97; Office of the Dead ff.98v-133; Suffrages to the Saints, listed below but also including unillustrated prayers to the Evangelist, Wilgefortis and Sith Virgin of Ireland ff.133v-160.
This is an extraordinarily lavishly illuminated manuscript, each devotion illustrated with an expanded cycle. Not only each hour of the Office of the Virgin has a miniature, but also each hour of the Hours of the Cross; not only the first of the Penitential Psalms but all seven of them; in addition to the double-page scene opening the Office of the Dead each of the nine lessons has an introductory miniature. In this programme the manuscript follows the example of the printed Prymer of François Regnault, and occasionally the miniatures adopt the same composition. But a comparison of the illuminations with the woodcuts points up the luxury and skill of the miniatures; the rich colour and profuse gilding, and the coherence of the compositions -- notwithstanding the greater animation of the figures and the complexity of their settings. All but two of these miniatures are the work of an illuminator called the Master of François de Rohan after the portrait in a 1530 manuscript of the Fleur de Vertu (Paris, BnF, fr.1877): M. Orth, 'The Master of François de Rohan: A Familiar French Renaissance Miniaturist with a New Name', Illuminating the book: Makers and Interpreters, Essays in Honour of Janet Backhouse, eds M.P. Brown and S. McKendrick (1998), pp.61-91. The career of this artist can be traced in Paris from around 1525 to 1546 and he painted both manuscripts and printed books. He was a favourite illuminator for the court of François I. The attractions of his style are easily appreciated in the miniatures of the present manuscript; they display both virtuosity and opulence, and are all set within frames of renaissance forms that reflect the taste of current royal building projects.
The two miniatures not by the Master of François de Rohan are the St John on Patmos and the Annunciation, both on one side of a single bifolium. These are in the style associated with the name of the Antwerp artist No/uel Bellemare, who was recorded in Paris from 1515 until his death in 1546. The accents of sharp acid color, turbulent drapery over muscular figures, and the extensive landscape behind St John are all characteristic of this style, which was once known under the soubriquet of the 1520s Hours workshop.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.16 Agony in the Garden; f.24 St John on Patmos; f.25v St Luke in his study; f.27 St Matthew with his angel; f.28v St Mark writing; f. 29v Annunciation; f.36v Visitation; f.43v Arrest of Christ; f.45v Nativity with the Virgin and Joseph adoring the Christchild; f.49v Christ before Pilate; f.50v Annunciation to the shepherds; f.53v Ecce Homo; f.55v Adoration of the Magi; f.58v Way to Calvary; f.59v Presentation in the Temple; f.62v Crucifixion flanked by the Virgin and John the Evangelist; f.63v Rest on the Flight to Egypt; f.68 Deposition from the Cross; f.70 Death of the Virgin; f.73v Laying Christ in the tomb; f.77 David and Bathsheba; f.78v Uriah being slain in battle; f.79v David and the prophet Nathan; f.81v David admonished; f.83v David sacrificing; f.85v David promising Sheba that after him her son Solomon should reign over Judea; f.86v David crowning Soloman; ff.97v and 98 Three Living and Three Dead; f.107 Expulsion from Eden; f.108 Adam and Eve with Cain and Abel as infants, in the background Cain slaying Abel; f.109 Adam praying and glorifying the Lord; f.113v A funeral service with a devil taking the soul (verse that a canon at Paris as his funeral service reached 4th lesson he cried out that he was damned for his living); f.114v View into a house where upstairs a woman has just given birth while downstairs a woman is dying, outside the house a beggar approaches; f.115v The dead burning in flames with god in heaven above; f.120v Administration of the sacrament to a dying woman; f.121v Job on the dungheap mocked by his wife; f.123 Infant on his mother's knee beset by the World, Devil and Care; f.133v Trinity; f.134v Virgin of the Apocalypse but with the Virgin standing on a curved dragon rather than the crescent moon; f.137v St Michael slaying the Devil; f.138v John the Baptist; f.139 Sts Peter and Paul; f.139v Crucifixion of St Andrew; f.140v St James; f.141v St Anthony Abbot; f.142 St George killing the dragon; f.143 Martyrdom of St Lawrence; f.144v Martyrdom of St Stephen; f.145v Martyrdom of St Thomas à Becket (but showing him submitting to beheading in a landscape); f.146 St Erconwald, bishop of London; f.147 St Nicholas; f.147v St Armagil; f.148v St Claude; f.150 St Roch; f.151 Martyrdom of St Sebastian; f.152 St Christopher; f.153 St Anne teaching the Virgin to read; f.153v St Barbara; f.155 Mary Magdalene; f.156v St Katherine; f.157 St Margaret; f.158v St Geneviève; f.159 All Saints.