Book of Hours, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum.

Low Countries (probably French-Flanders), c. 1500 with sixteenth century additions

£38,500

160 leaves (plus one vellum endleaf at front), complete, collation: i-ii6, iii4 (additional gathering added in the sixteenth century), iv-viii8, ix-x6, xi-xvi8, xvii3 (i a cancelled blank, this gathering and those that follow added in the sixteenth century), xviii8, xix9 (last an added singleton), xx-xxii8 (last leaf forming the pastedown), single column, 17 lines of lettre batârde, capitals touched in yellow, red rubrics, one-line initials in blue with red pemwork or liquid gold with black penwork, 2-line initials in liquid gold on blue and burgundy heightened with white penwork, larger initials in blue or pink with scalloping white penwork enclosing foliage and on burnished gold grounds, gold and coloured bar border along upright margin and decorated foliage borders at head and foot, five three-quarter page arch-topped miniatures with full borders of sprays of coloured acanthus leaves and single-line foliage with flowers, fruit, birds and occasional drollery creatures (a human-headed snail emerging from its shell, and another wearing a hairy creature as a hat), one with foliage set on dull-gold fleur-de-lys shapes, another with realistic flower sprays, butterfly and peacock set in trompe d’oeil style on dull gold grounds, one additional coloured print of St. Anne and the Virgin by Theodorus van Merlen (1609-1672) of Antwerp, pasted to the front pastedown, seventeenth-century painted helm surmounted by a dragon on front endleaf, eighteenth- or nineteenth-century “No 221” on front endleaf in pencil, some small smudges and spots, flaking from trompe d’oeil borders of one leaf, else good condition, 145 by 105mm., seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century calf over thin pasteboards, gilt-tooled with foliage in spine compartments, two working metal clasps, slight cracking at edges and spine and scuffs in places.

Provenance:

Produced for a patron who lived on the border of France and Flanders: with SS. Rieul of Senlis (30 March), Medard (bishop of Noyon, 8 June), Claude (native of France-Comte, 6 June), and Lambert of Maastricht (17 September), in the Calendar. The scribe occasionally uses a ‘w’ in place of a ‘v’ in Flemish fashion, and the borders of the miniature of King David shows clear influence of Ghent-Bruges illumination.

Text:

The volume comprises: a Calendar (fol. 1r); an added gathering of prayers from the later sixteenth century (fol. 13r); the Gospel Readings (fol. 17r); the Hours of the Cross (fol. 22r); the Hours of the Holy Spirit (fol. 24r); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol. 29r), Lauds (fol. 37r), Prime (fol. 45v), Terce (fol. 49v), Sext (fol. 54r), None (fol. 56r), Apologies – I need shots of fols. 57 and 58 (should be end of NONE, before opening of big gold initial and red rubric “AD VESPERAS”). This is to determine the ‘use’ and potential location of the book. Vespers (fol. 59r), and Compline (fol. 64r); the Seven Penitential Psalms (fol. 69r), followed by a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol. 83r); the Obsecro te (fol. 105r), and O Intemerata (fol. 108r); to this has been added a large collection of prayers in the sixteenth century, including prayers to various saints, an appeal for indulgence claiming to be taken down from the wall of a church dedicated to St. John in the Lateran in Rome, the ‘Verses of St. Bernard’.

Illumination:

The large miniatures comprise: 1. fol. 22r, the Crucifixion with a bird and a human-headed snail emerging from a shell; 2. fol. 24r, Pentecost, with a bird perched on a snail shell in border; 3. fol. 29r, the Annunciation to the Virgin, with foliage set on dull-gold fleur-de-lys in borders; 4. fol. 69r, King David kneeling in a waide grassy landscape before a river and a medieval walled town, gazing up at God who appears in the heavens; 5. fol. 83r, the raising of Lazarus, with Christ gesturing as Lazarus steps up out of his grave, dressed in a shroud.

L2155

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