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THREE LEAVES FROM THE CHESTER BEATTY BOOK OF HOURS DATED 1408, use of Paris, in Latin and French, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
Paris, 1408174 x 130mm, originally of 187 leaves, 15 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand betwen two verticals and and 16 horizontals ruled in red, justification: 95 x 60mm, rubrics in red, line-endings in red and blue on burnished gold, initials on burnished gold with foliate infills, text pages with thin bars of burnished gold to three sides and full borders of vine leaves in red, blue and gold on painted stems with a few on hairline tendrils, miniature pages with broad bar of burnished gold with full borders of similar type, 28 rectangular gold framed miniatures (all margins stained, smudging to borders and other water damage).
1. The same Parisian scribe dated two Books of Hours in 1408, the year the bridges of Paris were brought down by floods at the end of January. That in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Ms. Douce 144, was written earlier since the colophon reads: 'made and finished in the year 1407 when the bridges fell in Paris', dating it before the end of the year at Easter, which was on 15 April in 1408. The colophon of the present manuscript, lot 22, reads 'made in the year 1408 when the bridges fell in Paris', and so was completed after Easter. Its litany includes two Breton bishops, Sts Tugdual and Corentinus, indicating a patron with Breton connections. The extent and quality of the decoration show that both were intended for patrons of great wealth and discernment.
2. John Boycott Jarman (d.1864): his sale, Sotheby's, 13 June 1864, lot 47. Evidently with his collection when it was damaged by flooding in August 1846; Jarman had William Caleb Wing (1801-1875) retouch some of the damaged manuscripts, see J. Backhouse, 'A Victorian Connoisseur and his manuscripts: the Tale of Mr Jarman and Mr Wing', The British Museum Quarterly, 32, 1968, pp.76-92.
3. Edward Arnold: bought at the Jarman Sale; Arnold's sale, Sotheby's, 6 May 1929, lot 240.
4. Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968): his W Ms. 103, purchased in September 1929. Sir Alfred had most of the miniatures separately mounted: six were sold in 1932 and three given away in 1939; some text leaves were also dispersed. The rest of the manuscript was lots 58 and 58A-K in the Chester Beatty Sale, Sotheby's, 24 June 1969. For their history see Manion et al. and below.
Miniatures in both Books of Hours were attributed to the Boucicaut Master but have now been reattributed to the Mazarine Master, his close associate (see Bartz, p.85, where the Chester Beatty Hours is also listed under the Boucicaut Master, p.118; also Taburet-Delahaye and Avril, p.297). Among the leading illuminators in Paris, they were outstanding for their representations of three-dimensional space, using colour and tone as well as draughtsmanship, while maintaining a sensitivity to flat shape and surface pattern. Securely dated books of hours are extremely rare: the Chester Beatty leaves are crucial both for the chronology of these Masters and for the development of Parisian illumination at one of its most inventive periods.
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR THIS MANUSCRIPT:
M. Meiss, French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry. The Limbourgs and their Contemporaries, 1974, p.458
M. Manion et al., Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in New Zealand Collections, 1989, pp.96-8
C. de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, 1994, pp.185-92
G. Bartz, Der Boucicaut-Meister, Heribert Tenschert, Katalog XLII, 1999, p.85
E.Taburet-Delahaye and F. Avril, Paris 1400, les arts sous Charles VI, 2004, p.297