BOOK OF HOURS, use of Poitiers, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
184 x 127mm. i + 92 leaves: 112, 2-38, 42(probably of 8, lacking ii and vii, iii-v now bound in gathering 12), 5-68, 77(of 8, lacking vii), 8-98, 107(of 8, lacking vii), 118 + 3(of 8, ix-xi the first and only surviving folios of the following gathering), 125 (i-iii misplaced folios from gathering 4, and iv and v original final blanks), lacking at least two further gatherings after 11, central catchwords towards the bottom of final versos with calligraphic surrounds in red, 16 lines written in brown ink in a lettre bâtarde between two verticals and 17 horizontals ruled in brown, top and bottom across margins, justification: 97 x 67mm, one- to three-line initials alternately of blue and gold with flourishing of red and blue respectively, four- and five-line initials of blue or pink with monochrome decoration against grounds of the contrasting colour and infills of burnished gold with ivy-leaf sprays of pink and blue, accompanied by golden bar borders with cusped terminals and hair-line sprays with blue and pink flowerheads and golden leaves (endleaf nearly detached, some darkening and thumbing of margins, f.13 rubbed, spotting and smudging to some folios but miniatures generally in good condition). Old blue velvet over pasteboard (worn).
1. The Office of the Virgin is for the use of Poitiers and the Calendar includes several feasts of saints especially venerated in and around Poitiers, including Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (13 January), Radegundis, principal patron of Poitiers (13 August) and Leodegar, Abbot of St Maixent, Poitiers (2 October), all in red.
2. Renée Légier seigneur de la Sauvagière or Sauvagère (d. by July 1613): her note on the verso of the front endleaf recording that the book, from her father's cabinet, was given to her in 1640 by her mother, Louise Goullard. She was the daughter of Anne Goullard, seigneur de Beauvais and wife since 1621 of Antoine Prictevin. Renée, who was born between 1607 and 1613, did not know the age of the book but thought it dated from 1450 (H. Beauchet-Filleau, Dictionnaire historique et généalogique des familles de Poitou, 1891-).
3. A note in the lower margin of f.69v records how the 'ancienne escripture' was admired in 1729 while a 19th-century reader -- or potential reader -- complained at the foot of folio 91v of the illegibility of the elegant 15th-century script on that and the following page.
4. L.M.E. Dent: bookplate inside upper cover.
Calendar ff.1-12; Office of the Virgin ff.13-47v: matins f.13, lauds f.21, terce (lacking beginning) f.30, sext f.32, none f.35v, vespers f.39, compline f.44v; Hours of the Cross ff.48-52v; Hours of the Holy Spirit f.53-57v; Seven Penitential Psalms ff.58-79; Office of the Dead, lacking most of matins and lauds ff.79-87v; part of prime of Office of the Virgin ff.88-90; Seven Last Words, in French, added in a 15th-century hand on folios originally ruled and blank ff.91v-92.
The miniatures are perhaps by the illuminator of Guido della Colonna's History of the Destruction of Troy, St Petersburg, National Library of Russia, Lat. F.v.IV.5, T. Voronova and A. Sterligov, Western European Illuminated Manuscripts of the 8th century to the 16th century, pp. 108-9. The two manuscripts seem comparable in date but this Hours is painted with greater refinement and delicacy.
Although the present manuscript was made for the use of Poitiers, the style is close to that of the Luçon Master, characterised by Millard Meiss as the 'principal representative in Paris of what is generally called the International style'. The elegance, the sweet-faced women and the decorative qualities of the illumination of the present manuscript perfectly exemplify this aspect of the Master's style. Another Hours for the use of Poitiers was illuminated by the Luçon Master himself (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, M.743). The Crucifixion here, in a different and coarser style, appears to have been painted later.
The subjects of initial and miniatures are as follows:
f.21 Visitation (historiated initial)
f.32 Adoration of the Magi
f.35v Presentation in the Temple
f.44v Massacre of the Innocents
f.58 God supported by Cherubim and Seraphim
f.79 Priest asperging the coffin at the Absolution after Requiem Mass