DE CROY-LUXEMBOURG HOURS, use of Thérouanne, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
176 x 125mm. 127 leaves: 15(of 6, lacking i), 28, 37(of 8, lacking viii and with i misbound as vii), 47(of 8, iv cancelled blank), 5-68, 76(of 8, lacking i and vi with miniatures), 87(of 8, lacking iv with miniature), 9-118, 129(ix a singleton), 136(of 8, i cancelled blank, lacking iv with miniature), 14-178, catchwords in centre lower margin of final versos, 20 lines in brown ink in a lettre bâtarde between two verticals and 21 horizontals ruled in beige, top and bottom across margins, text justification: 101 x 68mm, rubrics in red, one- and two-line initials of liquid gold on grounds of blue or brown with gold decoration, line-endings of similar type, four-line initials with staves of pink or blue with foliate decoration in gold against grounds and infills of the other colour with monochrome foliage, NINE LARGE ARCH-TOPPED MINIATURES accompanied by full-page borders with divided grounds with blue and gold acanthus and shaped fields of liquid gold with sprays of naturalistic flowers and fruit, occasional birds, insects and grotesques and two with monograms and coats of arms, SEVEN SMALL MINIATURES with panel borders (small pigment losses or surface abrasion to all miniatures, first and final two folios torn and lacking parts of margins, three further leaves with marginal losses, first five and final ten folios darkened and stained in margins, slight spotting and staining throughout). Brown calf gilt by Quannone, stamped 'à la cathédrale' and spine gilt with leafy arabesques (rubbed at extremities).
1. Philippe de Croÿ, comte de Porcéan (d.1511), and his wife Jacqueline de Luxembourg: coats of arms on ff.6, 21 and 66. The first two are those of the aristocratic family de Croÿ and the third, in a lozenge, shows these arms impaling Luxembourg. Philippe was the son of Antoine de Croy (d.1475), one of the most powerful lords at the Burgundian court, and cousin of the Philippe de Croÿ, comte de Chimay, who was a patron of Simon Marmion and Rogier van der Weyden. Jacqueline was the daughter of Louis de Luxembourg, comte de Saint Pol and connétable de France (d.1475). The use of Thérouanne would have been appropriate for the Luxembourg St Pol estates and although most of the prayers are in the masculine form the suffrage to John the Baptist is in the feminine. The initials 'J' and 'A' tied with a green cord are, apparently, as inscrutable as those in the background of the van der Weyden portrait of Philippe's cousin.
2. ?Charles de Créquy, maréchal de France (1573-1638): inscription 'A jamais le seray votre ?humble servyteur C de Crequy' written in a 16th-century hand beside 16 to 20 December in the Calendar (f.5v). The inscription may have been written by an earlier member of the house of Créquy, to which the maréchal's mother belonged, and to which he was heir. The maréchal combined a brilliant military career with the acquisition of a splendid art collection. When it was broken up after his death many of the best paintings were acquired by Cardinal Richelieu.
3. The manuscript clearly continued in France: there are various inscriptions in French, including one of the 17th century signed E.N. (f.10v), and a marginal note on f.2 and poem on the final leaf in a 19th-century hand. A French bookseller's description, with the annotation 23/3/36, is pasted inside the rear cover.
4. G. Fesch: bookplate inside upper cover
Calendar ff.1-5; Gospel Extracts ff.6-10; Obsecro te ... ff.10v-13; prayers to be said at the celebration of Mass ff.14-16; Suffrages ff.16v-19v: to Sts Michael f.16v, John the Baptist f.17, Christopher f.17v, Sebastian f.18v, Nicholas f.19v, prayers f.20r&v (misbound folio, should follow f.13); Office of the Virgin use of Thérouanne ff.21-64: matins f.21, lauds f.36v, prime f.45, terce f.49, sext, lacking opening f.52, none f.54, vespers f.56, compline, lacking opening f.61; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.66-89v; Hours of the Cross ff.90-91v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.92-93v; Prayers to Christ ff.94-95v; Office of the Dead use of Thérouanne ff.97-127
In keeping with their station, wealth and discrimination, the owners turned to the favoured illuminator of the court and notables of Paris for the illustration of their Book of Hours: the celebrated painter François (egregius pictor Franciscus) who, in 1473, had painted 'better than Apelles would have done' the miniatures of the Cité de Dieu for Charles de Gaucourt, counsellor and chamberlain to Louis XI and lieutenant général of Paris. The light clear tones, especially in the landscapes, the porcelain-like complexions of the women and the freer handling of the fleshtones of the men are all typical of Maître François' personal style and execution. It seems likely that this Hours was painted at a date not far distant from the Hours of Jacques de Langeac (Lyons, Bib. Municipale Ms 5154), which was completed between 1465 and 1468.
The subjects of the miniatures are as follows:
f.6 St John on Patmos with his eagle holding an inkwell and pencase
f.10v Virgin and child enthroned, with a music-making angel (small miniature)
f.16v St Michael vanquishing Lucifer in the shape of a dragon (small miniature)
f.17 St John the Baptist with the Agnus Dei and a lion (small miniature)
f.17v St Christopher carrying the Christ Child, with the hermit watching (small miniature)
f.18v St Sebastian being shot by two soldiers (small miniature)
f.19v St Nicholas reviving the Three Boys (small miniature)
f.21 Annunciation, the border containing a coat of arms supported by two wildmen
f.36v Visitation, with the Virgin accompanied by Joseph and greeted by St Elisabeth outside a city
f.45 Nativity with the Virgin and Joseph in adoration of the Christ Child
f.49 Annunciation to the Shepherds, with two shepherds and a shepherdess in a pen of sheep
f.54 Presentation in the Temple
f.66 David in Penitence, kneeling at an altar
f.94 Risen Christ displaying his wounds (small miniature)
f.97 Death, a dark skeletal figure, attacking a young man, previous victims lie on the ground and an ossiary on columns in the middle ground with a distant cityscape behind