BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch and Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Utrecht, c.1420]133 x 87mm. i(former pastedown) + 160 leaves + i(former pastedown): 1-26, 3-108, 117(?of 8, viii cancelled blank), 128, 136, 14-158, 166, 17-208, 219(?of 8 + ix), apparently COMPLETE, catchwords in the lower margins of final versos, signatures, 13 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 14 horizontals ruled in violet, justification: 71 x 51mm, vertical prickings, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one- and two-line initials alternately red or blue, line-endings in red and blue, two two-line initials in gold flourished with red and blue, KL in calendar alternately red with purple flourishing or blue with red, TWENTY-SEVEN LARGE GOLD INITIALS WITH SINGLE BARS AND BORDERS of leaf and flower sprays in green and gold, FOUR VERY LARGE INITIALS WITH FOLIATE INFILLS ON GOLD GROUNDS WITH BARS AND FULL BORDERS of leaf sprays in gold, green, red, purple and blue (corners of some leaves repaired, crease to border f.84, wear to border and initial f.13, text worn but legible f.1). Contemporary blind-stamped brown calf over wooden boards with unbevelled edges, clasp with metal attachments and fastener (rebacked, wormed and worn).
The use of the Office of the Virgin, the Calendar and the style of illumination all place the origin of the manuscript in Utrecht.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Office of the Virgin, use of Utrecht, ff.13-83: matins f.13, lauds f.28, prime f.43v, terce f.50, sext f.54v, none f.60, vespers f.65v, compline f.75v; Hours of the Cross ff.84-97; added prayer f.97r and v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.98-119; Hours of the Eternal Wisdom ff.120-160v; all in Dutch with some rubrics in Latin.
Both content and illumination make this a fine example of Dutch book production. Written in Dutch, the offices include the Hours of the Eternal Wisdom, so popular with followers of the devotio moderna, and the restriction of the illumination to borders and initials, although highly gilt and decorative, may also reflect their taste for the practical and unostentatious.
Each office opens with a full border and a very large initial on gold, that on f.13 with the foliate infill issuing from the mouth of a green dragon; each subsequent hour within the offices begins with a large initial in gold and a partial border. The mixture of painted and gilded leaves in the borders and the flowers -- created by outlining petals around centres of burnished gold -- are typical of Utrecht illumination around 1420. The white decoration of letter staves and bars follows patterns found in the Missal of Zweder van Culemborg (Bressanone, Biblioteca del Seminario Maggiore, Ms C 20), dated to c.1425, and the layout of the borders is very like that in a Book of Hours of c.1420 (The Hague, K.B. Ms 133 M 131). The richer, denser forms of the full borders in the present manuscript perhaps indicate an origin in the earlier 1420s.
For the manuscripts cited, see H. Defoer et al. eds, The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Illumination, 1990, pp.98-116; E. Scheiber, Niederländische Buchmalerei, die Miniaturen des Culemborch-Missales in Brixen, 1992.