BOOK OF HOURS, use of Sens, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Northern France, c.1270]
122 x 93mm., 118 leaves and a medieval flyleaf, collation: 15, 2-118, 124, 13-168 [lacking 1/3 and two cancelled blanks, 16/7 & 8], catchwords in cursiva throughout, 12 lines, ruled in black, justification 85 x 57mm., written in black ink in a gothic textura, rubrics in red, one-line initials of red or blue with flourishing of blue and red, line-fillers and flourish 'swords' in lower margin similar, two-line initials of burnished gold on grounds and initials of blue and dark pink with white decoration, NINE HISTORIATED INITIALS with infill, grounds of burnished gold and cusped bar borders (slight cropping of flourishing in top and bottom margins, thumbing to lower corner of some folios). FIFTEENTH CENTURY SPANISH MUDÉJAR BINDING OF BROWN GOATSKIN TOOLED WITH INTERTWINED ROPEWORK ON WOODEN BOARDS (clasp lacking). In a red morocco case gilt.
THIS IS AN EXTREMELY EARLY BOOK OF HOURS IN AN UNCOMMON AND ATTRACTIVE BINDING
1). The Office of the Virgin is of Sens use.
2). By the fifteenth century the manuscript was in Spain or Catalonia where it was rebound and Spanish feasts were added to the Calendar (including Eulalia of Barcelona (12 February), her translation to Barcelona (23 October, Cucufas (25 July), Leocadia (9 December) and Eulalia of Merida (10 December).
The parchment pastedowns and flyleaves of the binding appear to be reused cloth merchant's accounts listing, in Spanish, cloth from all over Europe and, in Latin, dyestuffs of varied origin.
Calendar (ff.1v-12); Office of the Virgin (ff.13-88v) Lauds (f.29v), Prime (f.46v), Terce (f.55), Sext (f.60), None(f.65), Vespers (f.70v), Compline (f.80v); Seven Penitential Psalms (ff.89-110); Litany (ff.110-118).
Both the bold patterning of the subsidiary decoration and the style of the historiated initials are characteristic of Northern French illumination of the third quarter of the thirteenth century. The initials are painted in subdued shades of pink and blue, enlivened by the gold backgrounds and a more frequent use of green and yellow than is generally found in illumination of this date. The figures tend to have simple contours and relatively large heads with pale faces with bright, rosy cheeks.
Although it is not the work of the same artist, the present manuscript is closely comparable to a Book of Hours illuminated in the style of the Bari atelier (Walters Art Gallery, MS W.40). These two exceptional manuscripts are among the earliest Books of Hours that are known.
One apparent consequence of the novelty of production is the mistake to the rubrication of None of the Office of the Virgin: labelled as Terce. The illuminator supplied it with an initial, the Adoration of the Magi, appropriate to an earlier position in the sequence.
THE SUBJECTS OF THE HISTORIATED INITIALS ARE:
folio 13. Virgin and Child enthroned.
folio 29v. Annunciation.
folio 46v. Visitation.
folio 55. Nativity with Christ in the manger and the Ox and Ass above Mary and Joseph.
folio 60. Flight into Egypt.
folio 65. Adoration of the Magi.
folio 70v. Presentation in the Temple.
folio 80v. Flagellation.
folio 89. David Harping.
Lilian M.C. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery: I, France, 875-1420, Baltimore, 1989, cat. no. 29.