BOOK OF HOURS, use of Troyes, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Troyes, late 15th century]190 x 145mm. i + 154 + i leaves: apparently COMPLETE, 13 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 14 horizontals ruled in red, top and bottom horizontals ruled across margins, justification: 104 x 71mm, rubrics in red, one-line initials alternately of burnished gold on grounds and infills of blue and pink with white decoration or of liquid gold on grounds alternately of red or blue, line-endings of the same colours, two-line initials of three types, either of blue against burnished gold grounds with ivy-leaf sprays in the infill, or of blue or pink with liquid gold modelling against liquid gold grounds with a red and blue flowerspray, or of blue or red patterned with liquid gold or silver against contrasting or liquid gold grounds and infills containing heads, all pages with two-line initials with PANEL BORDERS with divided grounds of various shapes combining areas with sprays of fruit, flowers or acanthus and birds against the uncoloured vellum surface, other areas of liquid gold or silver foliage and birds against grounds of blue or red and fields of liquid gold with sprays of fruit and foliage, FULL-PAGE BORDERS of the same type surround the SIXTEEN LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES (narrow strip of dampstain to edges of lower outer corners, slight darkening of vellum and occasional spotting in margins). Contemporary panelled goatskin over wooden boards, ruled and tooled in blind, roll of border and two central strips of panel with flowerheads in criss-cross rope, roll of outer strips of panel with St John the Evangelist above a coat of arms supported by two peacocks and the name M. Pautty, edges gilt and painted to a scrolling foliate design (rebacked, repairs where lacking clasps, water damage to foot of upper cover, lacking pins from lower cover).
1. The manuscript appears to have been made in and for use in Troyes: the Office of the Virgin is use of Troyes, the Calendar includes the feasts of St Sabinianus (January 24) and St Mastidia (May 7) in red, and Sts Sabina and Mastidia are among the virgin saints of the Litany.
2. M. Legardinier: ownership note 'Ce livre appartient presentement A Mr Legardinier....A St gervais' apparently dated 1519
3. Owner's signature (undeciphered) on f.1 and note that it was given by Mlle ?Vaucan on 4 July 1670
4. Craven Ord: his bookplate inside upper cover. Much of his collection, sold in 1829, 1830 and 1832, was purchased by Sir Thomas Phillipps: S. De Ricci, English Collectors of Books and Manuscripts, New York repr. 1969, p.122.
5. Bishop Benjamin John Plunket: his bookplate on first endleaf, and letter to Mrs Plunket from Eric Maclagan of the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2 April 1935
6. Library of Sir Hugo ----: entry from a bookseller's catalogue pasted on front endleaf
7. Horace G. Commin, bookseller, Bournemouth: Alan G. Thomas's typed description inserted in the manuscript
Calendar ff.1-12; Gospel Extracts ff.13-20, John f.13, Luke f.15, Matthew f.17, Mark f.19; Hours of the Cross ff.20v-24; Hours of the Holy spirit ff.24v-27v; Prayers to the Virgin beginning with Obsecro te and Salve regina misericordie followed by Suffrages to Sts John the Baptist, Nicholas and Michael ff.32-35; Office of the Virgin, use of Troyes ff.32-92v: matins f.37, lauds f.48v, prime f.60, terce f.66, sext f.70v, none f.75, vespers f.79v, compline f.87; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.93-110v; Short Office of the Dead ff.111-137v; Prayers to the Virgin Missus est gabriel angelus' ff.139-144v; Deprecor te piissimam mitissimam misericordissimam ff.146r&v; Prayer to St Peter f.146v; O Intemerata ff.147-150; Seven Joys of the Virgin ff.150v-154v
This is an exceptional and arresting work painted by an illuminator of great originality. He was clearly influenced by the Master of Michel Jouvenel des Ursins, named after a Book of Hours in Paris (BnF, N.a. lat. 3113), who has been described by François Avril as 'une des personalités les plus fascinantes, en même temps que les plus mistérieuses, de l'enluminure française du xve siècle'. The same could well be said for the painter of the present manuscript. He presumably came into contact with the Michel Jouvenel des Ursins Master, or his works, in Troyes, where the Master passed part of his career. The other, and equally important, influence upon this dark and dramatic style was Jean Colombe; the involved, richly decorated and detailed architecture recalls miniatures by the Bourges artist in manuscripts such as the Histoire de la destruction de Troie la grand (Paris, BnF Ms n.a.fr. 24920): F. Avril & N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520 (1993), pp.336-338. The inclusion of heads in the two-line initials throughout the Office of the Virgin seems to be another borrowing from Colombe.
Whatever the strands that this painter brought together, their combination presents his own exotic vision. The scenes from sacred history are all acted out in fantastic elaborate settings and take place at dusk against dark lilac skies. There is no white highlighting; the palest tones are flesh and the delicate touches of liquid gold that pick out detail or model drapery. The same intense dark shades are used in the highly worked borders. Only one miniature in the Hours, the Coronation of the Virgin (f.87), is a conventional image and that is painted by another artist.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 St John on Patmos
f.15 St Luke
f.17 St Matthew
f.19 St Mark
f.20v Crucifixion with the Virgin, the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene f.24v Pentecost
f.60 Nativity with the Virgin and Joseph in adoration of the Christ Child
f.66 Annunciation to the shepherds
f.70v Adoration of the Magi
f.75 Presentation in the Temple
f.79v Flight into Egypt
f.87 Coronation of the Virgin
f.93 David in Penitence below the Angel of the Lord
f.111 Triumph of Death