BOOK OF HOURS, use of Troyes, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Troyes, mid-15th century]
178 x 132mm. i + 138 + iv leaves: 1-26, 33(of 4, iv cancelled blank), 4-88, 99(ix a singleton), 108, 119(i a singleton), 128, 138, 149(vii a singleton), 1510, 166, 178, 188: COMPLETE, catchwords in centre lower margin of most final versos, 17 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand betwen two verticals and 18 horizontals ruled in pink, top and bottom horizontals across margins on many folios, justification: 104 x 68mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched yellow, one- and two-line initials of burnished gold against grounds and infills of blue and dark pink patterned with white, line-endings of the same colours, two-line initials on rectos with marginal sprays of burnished gold trefoils and disks on hairline tendrils with fruit and flowerhead terminals, PANEL BORDER of the same forms in outer margin of every page, TWELVE LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES above four lines of text opening with four-line initials with staves of blue patterned white against grounds of burnished gold, ivy-leaf sprays in the infills, all surrounded by full-page borders with sprays of naturalistic flowers between scrolling hairline tendrils with golden trefoils and disks, 17th-century armorial miniature (three tiny wormholes in f.1, occasional slight offsetting of ink from borders, a few folios with small smudges to border). Contemporary 'morello' velvet over pasteboard, rebacked and edged with brown leather in the 19th century (extremities rubbed, velvet worn).
1. If the manuscript was not made in Troyes it was certainly destined for the city: both the Office of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead are use of Troyes and the feast of Mastidia, whose relics are in the Cathedral of Troyes, is included in gold in the Calendar (7 May) and she appears among the virgin saints of the Litany. The Calendar also includes in gold the feasts of St Lupus (10 May) and St Sabinianus (19 October).
2. Pierre de Saumaise Chasans seigneur de Chasans, Vilars la tour de Vilars, Chevane: his record, dated 5 October 1649, summarising the history of his family written in an old Hours owned by his elder brother François Monsieur de Chasans. The history ran from Odo de Salmasia or Salmaria to Hierome de Saumaise Chasans, the father of Pierre and François, who was appointed to the parlement of Bourgogne in 1569, served 40 years, died in 1614 and was buried in S. Pierre, Dijon. Hierome was married to Catherine de la Tour, daughter of Claude. Pierre de Saumaise names the children of this marriage and goes on to record the births of his own children by his wife Marie Virey daughter of Claude. On the final verso, in a different and earlier hand, is a summary of Pierre's earlier career: born 10 July 1586, 'année des grandes pestes', conseiller to the parlement de Bourgogne from November 1612 and married 29 April 1613. The manuscript appears to have remained in the possession of the Saumaise family: a late 17th- or early 18th-century painting of their coat of arms, azure, a chevron wavy or accompanied by three acorns or, with two wild men as supporters, is on the verso of the first endleaf. Pierre de Saumaise was born in Dijon and died in Paris in 1658. He was a writer, in French and Latin, especially of eulogies, for example to the Prince de Condé in 1627. His brother Claude wrote the history of the Oratorians. He was called 'the Oratorian' to distinguish him from their more renowned relative, the classical scholar and writer of the same name.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel Extracts ff.13-15v; Office of the Virgin, use of Troyes ff.16-64: matins f.16, lauds f.26, prime f.37, terce f.42v, sext f.46v, none f.50, vespers f.53v, compline f.60; Hours of the Cross ff.65-69; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.69v-73v; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.74-91v; Office of the Dead, use of Troyes ff.92-138v
This is a sparkling manuscript with every page having golden initials and line-endings and a panel border of burnished gold trefoils. The attractive and lively miniatures show the influence of a Troyes predecessor, the Rohan Master, in facial type and details such as the scudding silver clouds, but the disposition in space is more rational and colours are quite different. The miniatures and their surrounding borders are painted in clear bright shades of green, orange-red, blue and pinks. These features and the type of foliage and layout of the borders suggest that the illuminator's style may have been formed in Brittany, the Rohan Master's influence being absorbed second-hand, for there are some similarities with the copy of the Somme le Roi (Paris, BnF Ms Fr. 958) made for Isabelle Stuart, Duchess of Brittany: F. Avril & N. Reynaud, Les Manuscrits à Peinture en France 1440-1520 (1993), p.178.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.37 Nativity with Joseph and the Virgin adoring the Christ Child
f.42v Annunciation to the Shepherds
f.46v Adoration of the Magi
f.50 Presentation in the Temple
f.53v Flight into Egypt
f.60 Coronation of the Virgin
f.65 Crucifixion with the Virgin and John the Evangelist
f.74 David in Penitence
f.92 Burial and Funeral Service
A 17th-century armorial miniature with two wild men supporting the arms of Saumaise is painted on the verso of the front endleaf.