FOUR BIFOLIA from a Book of Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
193 x 138mm. 16 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between two verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in red, justification 100 x 65mm, rubrics in gold, text capitals touched yellow, NUMEROUS ILLUMINATED INITIALS with staves of pink or blue patterned with white with foliate infills on grounds of burnished gold, patterned line-endings on grounds of burnished gold, SIXTEEN FULL BORDERS with elegant branches of fruit, flowers and acanthus in blue, pink, red, green and liquid gold between vine leaves and disks in burnished gold on hairline tendrils, four with single bars of burnished gold.
The leaves come from an incomplete Book of Hours for the use of Rouen, (Sotheby's, London, 5 December 2000, lot 62). The pencilled foliation was done when the book was already fragmentary and misbound. These bifolia, ff.86/94, 95/98, 96/97 and 118/121, come from the Office of the Dead, for which the stylised orange branch on f.118 is a suitable embellishment. Capable of fruiting and flowering simultaneously, the orange could symbolise eternal life.
The two miniatures remaining in the book were by the Master of the Salisbury Breviary St Stephen, named from Paris, BnF, Ms lat.17294, who headed an independent workshop in Paris from the 1440s to the 1460s. In turning to Paris for a Rouen Hours, the patron secured work of exceptional refinement for an exceptionally lavish commission -- even the rubrics are gold. The inventive freedom seen in the curving rhythms of the borders, with their delicate interweavings of naturalistic and stylised plant forms, would give way c.1460 to more obviously structured border arrangements, as in the Hours by the Master in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, Ludwig Ms IX 6 (A. von Euw and J. Plotzek, Die Handschriften der Sammlung Ludwig, II, pp.103-114). (4)