BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
138 x 105mm. 206 leaves: 1-28 39(i an inserted miniature), 4-78, 89(i an inserted miniature), 98, 106, 119(ii an inserted miniature), 12-138, 149(i an inserted miniature), 158, 169(iv an inserted miniature), 17-198, 2010(i and viii inserted miniatures), 21-248, 259(of 10, x cancelled blank), modern pencilled foliation (with errors) followed here, 18 lines written in dark brown ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 19 horizontals ruled in brown, justification: 80 x 57mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, the litany with one-line initials alternately of burnished gold or blue, line-fillers each in burnished gold and blue, one- and two-line initials alternately of red or blue, four-line initials in burnished gold on pink and blue grounds with white tracery, each accompanied in the outer margin by a bar border in burnished gold, pink and blue and sprays of large burnished gold leaves together with small green leaves on thin brown stems, seven large initials (9 lines) in pink or blue with white tracery on square burnished gold grounds with three-sided borders of green and burnished gold leaves on fine brown stems scrolling around burnished gold bars, SEVEN FULL-PAGE MINIATURES in square frames with burnished gold or tessellated backgrounds and full borders of scrolling black stems with large burnished gold ivy leaves and small green and pink fruits, each border with three rosettes of coloured petals on a burnished gold ground around a liquid gold centre (minor rubbing to borders, burnished gold and one miniature, first and last blank leaves somewhat darkened, dampstain to fore-edge of first 25 leaves, some offset of red ink in calendar, one border slightly cropped, a few smudges). Limp vellum.
AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINELY ILLUMINATED BOOK OF HOURS FROM ZWOLLE
1. The mistake in writing Sarijs for Marijs in the Calendar (Jan 19) places this Hours in a group of manuscripts written from a faulty exemplar in Zwolle, perhaps by the community of the Brethren of the Common Life. They ran a large and successful scriptorium, supplying books to patrons in Utrecht and elsewhere.
2. Offset and sewing holes from 12 pilgrim's badges once attached to f.16v
3. Beser(?): scribbled on f.41
4. Rev. John Stirton: armorial bookplate
5. Sotheby's, 16 July 1945, lot 214
Calendar, including Utrecht feasts in red: Pontianus (January 14), Servatius (May 13), Boniface (June 5), Odulf (June 12), Lebuin (June 25), Lambert (September 17), Willibrord (November 7), Lebuin (November 12) ff.4-15v: Office of the Virgin, use of Utrecht, matins ff.18-27, lauds ff.27-35v, prime ff.35v-39, terce ff.39-40v, sext ff.40v-43v, none ff.43v-47, vespers ff.47-52v, compline ff.52v-56v; Hours of the Holy Cross ff.58-80v; Hours of the Eternal Wisdom ff.82-104; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.106-124v; Penitential Psalms and Litany, including Saints Servatius, Lebuin, Odulf, Radbod ff.126-147; Prayers to be said at mass ff.147v-154v: on Christ's suffering for our sins ff.147v-151v, with indulgence of as many years as there were wounds in Christ's body ff.151v-153v, with 2,000 years indulgence ff.153v-154v, with six years indulgence f.154v; Prayers before and after receiving the sacrament ff.156-160v; Office of the Dead ff.162-203
The miniatures set figures in blue, green, red and pink against delicately punched or diapered backgrounds of burnished gold. The crisply modelled draperies and the simplified settings against gold are not unlike the historiated initials of the Zwolle Bible in six volumes written 1464-176 in the Zwolle House of the Brethren of the Common Life, Utrecht University Library, Ms 31(K. van der Horst, Illuminated and Decorated Medieval Manuscripts in the University Library, Utrecht, 1989, no 76). The borders, however, suggest an earlier date for this Hours. The text borders of tendrils curling under thin gold fillets are following a pattern typical of the Master of Zweder van Culemburg, active principally in Utrecht in the first half of the century (The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Illumination, Utrecht, Rijksmusem Het Catharijneconvent, 1989, pp.97-116). The miniature borders, with more prominent penwork curling under or over a grid of fine ink lines reflect a slightly later taste. The same combination of border types, as well as similar large initials with diapered or foliate infills, is found in an Hours in Utrecht University, Ms 6 H 31, dated to the second quarter of the 15th century and localised to the northern Netherlands (K. van der Horst, Illuminated and Decorated Medieval Manuscripts in the University Library, Utrecht, 1989, no 43). The modest text decoration could easily have been executed by appropriately skilled Brethren in the Zwolle community; illuminators are known to have been among their number so that the accomplished miniature pages and the embellishment of their facing rectos could have been achieved within the house or sub-contracted to a professional elsewhere. While most Zwolle manuscripts are fairly crudely illuminated, this Hours shows an exceptional refinement of detail and execution in both miniatures and borders.
The subjects of the miniatures are:
f.125v Mass of St Gregory
f.155v Resurrection and Last Judgement
f.161v God the Father seated on a throne holding two souls in a cloth