BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[southern Holland, ?Delft, c.1480]
165 x 120mm. 143 + i leaves: 1-26, 38, 410, 5-78, 89(vii a singleton), 9-108, 116, 129(ix a singleton), 13-158, 166, 178, 188, 193(of 4, lacking i), modern pencilled foliation, 22 lines written in brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 23 horizontals ruled in brown, justification: 105 x 70mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one- and two-line initials alternately of red or blue, four-line initials in blue often with reserved ornament and with fine red flourishing extending into margins, six large initials (9-10 lines) divided red and blue in ornamental patterns and elaborately flourished in red and blue with pen-work extensions filling the left, upper and lower margins (small dampstain to lower blank corner of most leaves, dampstain to upper portion of first 12 leaves with some fading of red ink in calendar). 19th-century limp vellum, preserving one early flyleaf.
1. The use of Utrecht was followed in the northern Netherlands; the martyr St Jerome or Jero, whose relics were at Egmond, is in red in the Calendar as Geroen (Aug 17), indicating the County of Holland. The penwork decoration indicates an origin in the southern part of the County, probably Delft.
2. Mechtild, wife of Floris Symonsz.: partially erased and slightly cropped inscription on back flyleaf Dit boek hort toe machtelt florijs sijmonz [wijf].
3. The brother or sister of Hugh Barentsz. in 1560: slightly cropped inscription on back flyleaf Item int iaer ons heren doe men screef dusent xvc. en :lx: op sint Fabiaan en sabastiaens [20 June] is ghestorven huych barentsz.+ [above text +mijn liever broeder+] met sijn wijf enen iamerliker doot en soe wie dit boeck nar mijn doot ghebruckt die weest doch ghedachtich haer ziele en mijn ziel met een pater noster en enen ave maria om goo willen, recording the pitiful death of Hugh Barentsz. and his wife and asking for prayers for the souls of them and the writer from whomever uses the book after his/her death.
4. Sir Edward Robert Pearce Edgcumbe of Rospervert Manor (d.1929): armorial bookplate inside front cover
Calendar, with a saint for every day, including Utrecht feasts in red: Pontianus (January 14), Pancras (May 12), Servatius (May 13), Boniface (June 5), Odulf (June 12), Lebuin (June 25), Jerome (August 17), Lambert (September 17), Willibrord (November 7), Lebuin (November 12) ff.1-12v; Office of the Virgin use of Utrecht, matins ff.13-19v, lauds ff.19v-26, prime ff.26-28v, terce ff.28v-30v, sext ff.30v-32v, none ff.32v-35, vespers ff.35-39, compline ff.39v-42v; Office of the Holy Cross, ff.43-61; Hours of the Eternal Wisdom ff.62-79v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.80-94; Pentential Psalms and litany, including saints Lebuin, Odulf and Radbot ff.95-107v; prayers to Christ, St Peter and St George ff.108-109v; Office of the Dead ff.110-140v; Suffrages to the saints, lacking beginning: guardian angel, St Michael, Sts Philip and James, Holy Cross, Trinity, St George ff.141-143v.
The major offices on ff.13, 43, 62, 80, 95 and 110 are introduced by large initials with elaborate flourishing, which fills much of the borders. The penwork is a more flexible and exuberant version of that signed by Brother Meynaert in a book printed in Delft in 1483, The Hague, KB. 1699 57 (J. Gumbert, The Dutch and their Books in the Manuscript Age, 1990, fig. 29). It is very like that in a Book of Hours in Dutch, dated to the second half of the 15th century, in the Utrecht University Library, Ms 1038, which has penwork identified as falling into the 'Meynaert Group', with some similarities with the 'Geometrical Group' (K. van der Horst, Illuminated and Decorated Medieval Manuscripts in the University Library, Utrecht, 1989, no 96). The penwork is definitely from south Holland, possibly Delft, a major centre of book production where this Hours may have been written and decorated. Each design is different but most are characterised by trumpet flowerheads that spray further linework over the page and by the three-dimensionality of the carefully delineated flowers and twisting stems, reinforced by hatched and cross-hatched shading. The smaller initials, relying on the more conventional flower and scroll elements, match the large initials in craftsmanship if not bravura.