BOOK OF HOURS, use of Troyes, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
174 x 122mm. 120 leaves: 17(of 6, i a ruled blank from end), 26, 310, 48, 57(of 8, lacking viii), 67(of 8, lacking vii), 7-158, 163(of ?, lacking at least two further leaves), lacking a leaf before f.60, four of the lacking leaves with miniatures, occasional signature marks, pencil foliation 1-117 with three single unfoliated leaves, ruled otherwise blank, before 1, between 121 and 122, and after 117, 17 lines written in black in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 18 horizontals ruled in dark pink, top and bottom across margins, justification: 88 x 60mm, rubrics in red, one-line initials of liquid gold on grounds of blue or red with gold decoration, line-endings of the same colours, two- to five-line initials with staves of grey-blue with foliate patterning in white or magenta with patterning in gold against grounds of red with gold or blue with white respectively, EIGHTEEN FULL-PAGE BORDERS and NINETEEN FULL-PAGE MINIATURES WITH ILLUSIONISTIC FRAMES of liquid gold or fictive stone against borders of inlaid stone, architecture or divided grounds with sprays of acanthus and naturalistic flowers (up to five wormholes in first three leaves, some spotting and staining, creasing or small areas of pigment loss to miniatures and borders of ff.13, 30, 45v, 113v and 114v, smudging to border and Virgin's mantle on f.56v, occasional other minor losses or smudges). French 19th-century straight-grained dark brown morocco à la cathédrale (scuffed, detached, lower joint split).
REAPPEARANCE OF A MANUSCRIPT BY GEORGES TRUBERT, 'ONE OF THE MAJOR FRENCH PAINTERS OF THE 15TH CENTURY'
1. The liturgical uses of the Offices of the Virgin and of the Dead and the major feasts of the Calendar -- Mastidia (7 May) and Lupus (29 July) -- indicate that the manuscript was made for use in the diocese of Troyes. The feast of Sabinianus, who was also especially venerated in the city was added in a slightly later hand.
2. The manuscript was clearly in France in the 19th century. There is an 1840 catalogue description on the front endleaf and the boards have two stamped labels from Paris customs. There are, in addition, two labels with the numbers 6280 and 3873.
3. Bernard Quaritch, January 1914, item 571.
4. Rudolf Busch: pencil note 'Sammlung Dr Busch, Mainz' on final endleaf. His sale Joseph Baer, Frankfurt,4 May 1921, lot 265.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel Extracts, followed by prayer to the Virgin Stabat mater dolorosa ff.13-21; Office of the Virgin, use of Troyes ff.22-56: matins f.22, lauds, lacking end f.30, prime, lacking opening f.37, terce, lacking end f.40v, sext, lacking opening f.43, none f.45v, vespers 48v, compline f.53; Obsecro te ff.57-59v; Hours of the Cross, lacking opening ff.60-62; Hours of the Holy Spirit followed by O Intemerata ff.62v-67v; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.68-76; Litany ff.76v-80; Office of the Dead ff.81v-109v; Suffrages to the Apostles, St Peter, Sts Peter and Paul, Stephen, Lawrence, Sabinianus, Sebastian, Nicholas, Catherine, Anthony, Magdalene and with a final rubric showing that the manuscript once had a suffrage to St Anne, probably with a miniature ff.110-117v.
Twelve of the miniatures in this manuscript are the work of Georges Trubert, illuminator to René of Anjou, one of the greatest -- and most romantic -- patrons of the 15th century: Trubert was one of only two painters honoured by René with appointment as valet de chambre. Although none of his work for René is known to have survived, Trubert is frequently mentioned in the ducal accounts between 1467 and 1480, the year of René's death. Six years later he is recorded receiving gifts from René's grandson, René II, Duke of Lorraine and he was a member of the Duke's Lorraine household from 1491 to 1499. Certain work undertaken for René II between 1492 and 1494 -- a Breviary (Paris, Bibl. Arsenal, Ms 601 and Petit Palais Ms 42) and a Diurnal (Paris, BnF, Ms lat.10491) -- is the basis for the identification of his style and the attribution to him of other manuscripts. The present Hours can be confidently added to this select oeuvre, and was mentioned as 'whereabouts unknown' in John Plummer's discussion of Trubert manuscripts: The Last Flowering, 1982, p.80.
The convincing grouping of figures in spacious surroundings -- whether scenes of several interacting figures, as in the Presentation in the Temple, or individual saints such as the Magdalene or Catherine isolated in an extensive landscape -- and the impression they give of emotional engagement, the sense of arrested movement and use of eloquent gesture are all characteristic of Trubert's evolved and accomplished style. His meticulous technique with precisely modelled fine-featured faces is immediately evident in miniatures such as the Annunciation and the Virgin and Child on a crescent moon. The illusionistic frames around the miniatures are, perhaps, Trubert's most individual invention: in this manuscript they include simulations of jewel-studded or marble-inset stone as a backdrop to the simple rectangular framing around each sacred scene.
Not all of the miniatures were painted by Trubert -- seven are painted by an illuminator working in a style influenced by Jean Colombe -- but the common use of the distinctive 'inlaid-stone' surrounds strongly suggests that Trubert was the defining artist in charge of the illumination of this manuscript. It is interesting that the Book of Hours is for the use of Troyes, the diocese where the artist was born. He was first engaged by René when the Duke was still in Anjou but after 1476 Trubert settled in Arles and is believed to have continued working there after René's death and until he moved to Lorraine in 1490 to join the household of René's grandson. Stylistically this manuscript seems datable before the manuscripts made for René II, where faces have become sharper-featured and more planar, but the illusionistic borders suggest that the manuscript is later than Trubert's miniatures in two Books of Hours in the Pierpont Morgan Library (M.348 and M.1039). The relative proximity of Troyes to Lorraine makes it likely that the manuscript was painted soon after Trubert entered the service of René II.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.13 St John on Patmos
f.15 St Luke painting the Virgin
f.16v St Matthew
f.18v St Mark
f.40v Annunciation to the shepherds
f.45v Flight into Egypt
f.48v Presentation in the Temple
f.53 Coronation of the Virgin
f.56v Virgin and Child on a crescent moon
f.68 David and Goliath, with the giant collapsing, blood from his forehead streaming to the ground
f.81 Burial service in a churchyard
f.112v Martyrdom of St Sebastian
f.113v St Nicholas reviving the three boys
f.114v St Catherine standing in a landscape
f.115v St Anthony Abbot standing in fire
f.116v St Mary Magdalene