BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Selwerd, 1470s-1490s]143 x 101mm, i(former pastedown) + 187 leaves (f.187 former pastedown): 15(of 4 + v), 2-68, 77(of 8 lacking vi), 88, 97(of 8 lacking viii), 10-248, 20 lines written in a gothic bookhand in brown ink between two verticals and 21 horizontals ruled in brown ink, justification: 83 x 57mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one- and two-line initials alternately in red and blue, one-line initials alternately in blue and gold in litany, line endings in red, blue and gold, nine three- and four-line initials in red or blue flourished in red, blue and green, twelve opening initials of calendar pages on grounds of blue and white in burnished gold extending into bars across top margin, over eighty three- to five-line initials in burnished gold on grounds of blue, patterned with white, and pink, patterned with yellow, with border decoration of burnished gold trefoils or disks bunched on black penwork, fifteen of these with burnished gold bars enclosing two sides of text, two large initials in burnished gold on pink grounds with infills of flowers on blue and borders of leaves and flowers in burnished gold and colours on penwork sprays, FOUR VERY LARGE INITIALS ON BURNISHED GOLD GROUNDS WITH STAVES OF BLUE, PINK OR ORANGE AND FOLIATE INFILLS WITH THREE-SIDED BORDERS of acanthus and flower stems in gold and colours interspersed with penwork circles and gold disks (lacking two leaves with very large initials, gold scraped from ff.14-29, small tear to margin f.74). Contemporary calf over boards, stamped in blind with triple fillets, rosettes, a roundel with floral form and a square with ?wolf, spine in five compartments (lacking two clasps, rubbed, repairs to upper and lower joints).
1. The use of Utrecht was common in the northern Netherlands but the two celebrations of St Walburga in red in the Calendar, 25 February and 4 August, and her presence with Saints Cordera and Cunnera in the Litany are indicative of the diocese of Münster which covered the north eastern area. St Walburga was especially revered in Groningen and the style of illumination is particular to the Benedictine double monastery of Selwerd, just outside Groningen, where nuns are known to have undertaken the writing and illumination of books for other clients.
2. Diego S. Caro, New York: inscribed on former pastedown.
3. City Library Association, Springfield, Mass.: presented by Mrs Linda Washburn(e) Carmichael, of 29 Stebbins St, Springfield, 11 March 1882, as recorded on former pastedown and on bookplate inside upper cover (de Ricci, I, p.1066).
Calendar ff.1-12; ruled blank f.13; Hours of the Virgin for the use of Utrecht in the Dutch translation of Gert Groote ff.14-50: matins f.14, lauds f.22, prime f.29v, terce f.33, sext f.35, none f.38, vespers f.41, compline f.46; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.51-67: matins lacking opening leaf f.51, prime f.54v, terce f.56v, sext f.57v, none f.59v, vespers f.61v, compline f.64v; Hours of the Eternal Wisdom ff.68-88: matins lacking opening leaf f.68, lauds f.74v, prime f.77, terce f.79, sext f.80v, none f.82, vespers f.83v, compline f.86; Long Hours of the Cross ff.89-111v: matins f.89, lauds f.95v, prime f.98v, terce f.100v, sext f.103, none f.104v, vespers f.106v, compline f.109v; Short Hours of the Cross ff.112-116v: matins f.112, prime f.113, terce f.113v, sext f.114, none f.115, vespers f.115v, compline f.115v; ruled blank f.117; Penitential Psalms ff.118-127; Litany ff.127-135; Office of the Dead, use of Utrecht, ff.136-171; prayers relating to the Sacrament, one with indulgence, prayer O lieve here jhesu christe ic anbede di hanghende an den cruce carrying 60,090 years and 66 days indulgence if said before an image of the arma Christi, a prayer to benefit from all masses all over the world, Five Joys and Five Sorrows of the Virgin, prayers to one's guardian angel, to an Apostle, to Sts Erasmus, Anthony, Anna, Katherine, Barbara and Dorothea ff.171v-186; ruled blank f.187.
The bold and strongly coloured illumination is typical of manuscripts produced at Selwerd after the monastery joined the reforming Congregation of Bursfeld in 1468-1469. Most aspects of the decoration, including the flourishing, associate the present lot with manuscripts dated to the 1470s to 1490s, when the nuns did not aspire to the painting of miniatures. The large initials with borders are especially close to those in a book of hours in the Rijksmuseum Meermanno-Westreenianum in the Hague (MS 10 F 4), which has been described as displaying the most beautiful decoration within the early group of Selwerd manuscripts, see A. Korteweg ed., Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen, 1993, p.147; also J. Hermans, Middeleeuwse handschriften uit Groningse kloosters, 1988. The smaller initials with partial borders and flourished initials are like those in a more modest hours in the University Library in Amsterdam (MS 1 G 51). The illumination follows the decorative forms used by Sister Agnes Martini of Selwerd in a book of hours completed in 1477-1478, now in Pommersfelden, Gräflich Schönbornsche Schlossbibliothek, MS 344, but it is not clear how far she was responsible for all the manuscripts in this style. Whether or not by Sister Agnes herself, this handsome book is a fine example of the striking style evolved by the nuns of the Selwerd scriptorium.
The large initials with three-sided borders oare on ff.14, 89, 118 and 136; the large initials with partial borders are on ff.112 and 171v.