BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch, DECORATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [Delft, second half 15th century]178 x 125mm. 134 leaves, numerous leaves lacking, many misbound, 21 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 22 horizontals ruled in grey-black, justification: 93 x 63mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one- and two-line initials alternately in red and blue, five two-line initials flourished in the contrasting colour and with blue and red penwork extending into the margin (damp-staining to lower margins of some leaves). 18th-century calf (worn, spine defective, repairs to joints, book-block split at f.49).
1. The flourishing is typical of Delft. The prayers celebrating the major feasts of the liturgical year include Sts Agnes and Ursula: books were written and illuminated at the Augustinian convent of St Agnes in Delft and St Ursula was the patron of the Delft New Church.
2. City Library Association, Springfield, Mass, April 1890: bookplate inside upper cover; De Ricci I, 1066.
All major texts are incomplete: along with many other losses, the opening leaves of all offices are missing and so, therefore, are most final leaves.
Hours of the Eternal Wisdom ff.1-11: matins ff.2-4, 1, lauds f.5, terce f.6, none f.7, vespers f.8, compline ff.10-11; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.12-25: matins ff.12-17, prime ff.18-19, terce f.20, none ff.21-22, vespers f.24, compline ff.23, 25; Hours of the Virgin, use of Utrecht, ff.26-49: matins ff.26-32, lauds ff.33-36, prime ff.37-38, terce ff.39, 41, sext f.42, none f.40, vespers ff.45-46, 43-44, compline ff.47-49; Hours of the Cross ff.50-51: terce f.50, vespers f.51; Hours of All Saints ff.54-65; Penitential Psalms ff.66-72v; the Office of the Dead, use of Utrecht ff.113-134; Hundred Articles on Christ's Passion by Heinrich Suso ff.77-91; Prayers: on the five wounds of Christ f.9, attributed to St Augustine ff.52-3, to Our Lord f.53, for major feasts and associated with the Sacrament ff.92-112.
The book of hours was intended to have a very full selection of offices, giving three lessons at matins for the Hours of the Holy Ghost and the Hours of All Saints. Vernacular Books of Hours were popular in the northern Netherlands. Their use was fostered by the followers of Geert Grote, regarded as the founder of the so-called devotio moderna. Grote was profoundly influenced by the Dominican mystic Heinrich Suso, whose Hours of Eternal Wisdom he translated along with the Hours of the Virgin, and he probably helped to popularise Suso's Hundred Meditations on the Passion of Christ.
It is impossible now to recreate the level of original decoration. Remaining are five pages, ff.1, 122v, 123v, 124, 125v. with flourished initials and borders typical of Delft in their decorative forms and blocks of red and blue penwork, see A. Korteweg ed., Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen, 1992, especially pp.58-59. The tightly marshalled curves in the margins are grouped along the outer rulings to make a pleasing contrast with the angular script.