BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Eastern Netherlands, c.1475]
135 x 100mm., 141 leaves and 4 medieval flyleaves, collation: 11+8, 2-58, 63, 7-98, 103,, 11-138, 142, 15-188, 192, 106, 218, miniature on inserted leaf 1/1 [lacking gathering/s before 15 with one historiated and one illuminated initial and single leaves 8/1 and 9/8 with foliate initials and 21/1 cancelled blank], 17 lines, ruled in brown, justification 82 x 55mm., written in brown ink in a gothic textura, rubrics in red, one-line initials alternately gold and blue with flourishing of lilac and red, many with marginal extensions, two-line initials of burnished gold on grounds of pink and blue with while decoration and with hairline sprays with gold leaves and disks into the margins, 2 four-line initials with three-sided borders similar, TEN SIX-LINE ILLUMINATED INITIALS with blue staves on a burnished gold ground infilled with a leaf or flower-spray each with an outer baguette border and borders on 3 sides of acanthus, flowers, fruit, burnished gold trefoils and disks on pale hairline tendrils, THREE HISTORIATED INITIALS WITH BORDERS on 3 sides of foliage, flowers, gold disks, birds and angels (some shaved at head), MINIATURE OF THE ANNUNCIATION with a border of hairline tendrils and disks and painted flowerheads and a virgin capturing a unicorn, 18th-century Dutch binding, black roan gilt, edges gilt, (somewhat scuffed).
1). The Office of the Virgin is use of Utrecht, and the Calendar has many northern Dutch feasts in red: Pontianus (14 January), Servatius (13 May), Odulf (12 June), Lebuin (25 June and 12 November), Lambert (17 September), Willibrort (7 November).
Office of the Virgin (ff.2-44v), Lauds (f.11), Prime (f.20), Terce (f.24), None (f.29), Vespers (f.33), Compline (f.39); Hours of the Cross (ff.44-68), Lauds (f.51v), Prime (f.54v), Terce (f.57), Sext (f.59v), None (f.62); Penitential Psalms (ff.69-82); Litany (ff.82v-94v); Office of the Dead (ff.96-128v); Lauds (f.116v); Calendar (ff.129-140). Lacks the openings of Vespers and Compline of the Office of the Virgin and Vespers and the opening of Matins of the Office of the Dead.
Illuminated by the 'Masters of the Zwolle Bible', the artists whose works can be grouped with the illumination of the 6-volume Bible (Utrecht University Library, Ms 31) made at the Community of the Brethren of the Common Life at Zwolle between 1462 and 1476. The illumination of the present manuscript accords well with the description of this style given in the catalogue of the 1989 exhibition The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting - 'finely decorated but never excessively or exaggeratedly opulent. Palettes are confined to a relatively small number of colours, among which pink, red, blue and green figure largely. Often these colours are kept pale, and the illumination has a quality of extreme lightness (p.244). The delicacy and precision of handling of the present manuscript place it among the finest works of this group.
THE SUBJECTS OF THE HISTORIATED INITIALS AND MINIATURE ARE:
folio 1v. Miniature of the Annunciation, in a Gothic interior, the Virgin looking back over her shoulder towards Gabriel, in the lower border a unicorn lies at the side of a seated maiden.
folio 2. Initial with half-length Virgin and Christ Child on a crescent moon, music-making angels in the border.
folio 44. Initial with Christ as Man of Sorrows surrounded with the Instruments of the Passion, angels with Instruments of the Passion in the border.
folio 69. Christ in Judgement sitting on a rainbow, the Resurrected rising out of their graves in the lower border and two angels sounding the Last Trump in the upper border.