A CHINESE INFLUENCE?
Book of Hours, Use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum, with additional miniatures from another near-contemporary Book of Hours.
Northern France (Paris) c. 1470, with additional cuttings from Low Countries, mid-fifteenth century
154x115mm, 146 leaves (plus one original vellum and two modern endleaves at front and back), …… collation: i12, ii-viii8, ix10 (the first 2 leaves singletons, one mounted on a guard and the other containing an additional miniature), x-xi9, xii9 (first leaf added to complete text), xiii-xv8, xvi7 (with several leaves cut away and an additional miniature bound in, all without apparent text loss), xvii-xviii6, single column, 16 lines in rounded late gothic bookhand, capitals touched in yellow, rubrics in deep burgundy-red, small initials in liquid gold on pink and blue grounds heightened with white penwork, linefillers in same, larger initials in same with bezants at their corners and enclosing detailed foliage, accompanied by bar borders of rinceaux foliage, gold leaves and bezants and coloured flower heads, five large integral three-quarter page arch-topped miniatures with full decorated borders, plus three inserted full-page arch-topped miniatures with full borders, professional repairs to losses of vellum at edges of first leaf, some small scuffs and spots, else very presentable, in red morocco over pasteboards, lavishly gilt-tooled inside boards with marbled pastedowns, and signed by the Brussels binder: Émile Bosquet (1834-1912), joints cracked, solid in binding
- Written and illuminated in Paris in the 1470s for a patron there: note St Geneviève twice in the calendar (her feast on 3 January, and translation 26 November), and St Gendulf in Litany (whose relics were at Notre Dame).
- In collection of Léonce Dupont de St. Ouen in the nineteenth century: printed armorial bookplate on front pastedown, most probably the scholar of Napoleon Bonaparte, who lived from 1828 to 1884, publishing La majorite du quatrieme Napoleon in 1874. The Low Countries miniatures and the current fine binding may have been added in order to augment the book for sale to Dupont. His anonymous sale in Girard-Badin, Paris, in 1935, lot 6: sale catalogue clipping adhered to back pastedown.
- Robert Nossam: his twentieth-century printed bookplate on first flyleaf at front.
The volume comprises: a Calendar (fol. 1r); the Passion readings (fol. 13r); the Obsecro te (fol. 18r), and O intemerata (fol. 21r); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol. 24v), Lauds (fol. 33v), Prime (fol. 43r), Terce (fol. 48r), Sext (fol. 51v), None (fol. 54v), Vespers (fol. 58r), and Compline (fol. 64r); the Penitential Psalms (fol. 69r), followed by a Litany (fol. 80r); the Hours of the Cross (fol. 84r); the Hours of the Holy Spirit (fol. 87r); the Office of the Dead (fol. 90r); Les Quinze Joies (fol. 131r) and Les Sept Plaies (fol. 135v); the ‘Verses of St. Bernard’ (fol. 138r); and Suffrages to the Saints (fol. 139v).
The artist was a follower of Maître François (fl . c. 1460-80, perhaps to be identified with the artist François Le Barbier, who is documented between 1455 and 1472; see also no. ??? here), the foremost influence on the Parisian book arts in the early decades of the second half of the fifteenth century. The added miniatures are by a southern Netherlandish artist influenced by the Master of the Beady Eyes, with his soft-pink, almond-shaped faces and facial features reduced to a few penstokes which show an uncanny resemblance to the work of official imperial court painters of the Song and Ming dynasties. The work of this master dominated manuscript illumination in Bruges in the first decades of the fifteenth century.
The original large miniatures include: 1. fol. 13r, St. John on Patmos; 2. fol. 24v, the Annunciation; 3. fol. 69r, King David; 4. fol. 84r, the Crucifixion; 6. fol. 87r, Pentecost; 7. fol. 90r, Funeral Service; and to these have been added another three on leaves facing fol. 69r (Virgin and Child Enthroned), fol. 90r (Pentecost) and fol. 131r (Annunciation).