THE EXCEPTIONAL DU CHASTEL HOURS
Book of Hours, Use of Rome, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum.
France, Paris, c. 1470s
165 x 116 mm (cropped), 228 leaves on parchment: I12, II-III8, IV4, V-XIV8, XV6, XVI-XXVII8, XXVIII6, XXIX8, no catchwords; parchment bifolium including upper pastedown and three flyleaves (fols i-iii) at beginning, two additional gatherings of four and eight leaves respectively at end, last gathering wanting blank leaves vi-viii, blank v used as lower pastedown (fols 229-236; fols 235-236 blank). Justification: 85 x 55 mm (Calendar), 83 x 52 mm (main text), and 85 x 54 mm (added prayers at the end, fols 228r-234v); ruled in purple for single vertical and horizontal bounding lines (upper and lower horizontal lines extending into the margins), 18 ruled horizontal lines for 17 written lines for Calendar, and 16 ruled for 15 written for main text and prayers (fols 228r-234v). Regular French Gothic bookhand [Textualis Rotunda Formata], dark brown ink for main text, gold and alternating blue and purple inks for Calendar; small French cursive bookhand [Cursiva formata] in light brown ink for added prayers (fols 228r-234v), late 15th or early 16th century. Rubrics in purple; verse initials (1-line high) in gold set against red and blue grounds with white tracery decoration; rectangular line fillers of red, blue and gold with white tracery; Calendar, Hours and psalm initials (2-3 lines high) in blue with white tracery set against burnished gold-leaf grounds decorated with clover-leaves and flowers in blue and red highlighted with white tracery; panel borders in outer margins of text pages decorated with leaves, berries and flowers, including acanthus leaves, strawberries, blackberries and daisies, in gold, blue, red, light purple and green; 24 small miniatures (5-6 lines high) in the panel borders of the Calendar pages representing the works of the months on rectos and zodiacal signs on versos: festive table for January (fol. 1r), warming by the fire for February (fol. 2r), pruning for March (fol. 3r), tree bearer for April (fol. 4r), man and maid on horseback with bird for May (fol. 5r), hay making for June (fol. 6r), harvesting for July (fol. 7r), reaping for August (fol. 8r), winemaking for September (fol. 9r), sowing for October (fol. 10r), hog feeding for November (fol. 11r), hog killing for December (fol. 12r); 5 full-page miniatures representing: St John scroll on Patmos and martyred in a boiling oil caldron (fol. 13r), St Luke reading in his columned study and as a physician with patients and examining a urine flask below (fol. 15r), St Matthew writing under a canopy in his study and resuscitating the son of King Hirtacus in the lower part (fol. 17r), St Mark cutting his quill in study in the upper part and dragged from a chapel to his martyrdom below (fol. 19r), an angel bringing the news to Joachim in a field on the left, the Meeting at the Golden Gate on the centre right, an angel bringing the news to St. Anne below (fol. 20v). 26 large miniatures at beginning of prayers, canonical hours, offices and suffrages: the Virgin and Child with an angel, presented with a red velvet box by the owner of the manuscript (fol. 26r), the Annunciation, with small miniatures representing the Meeting at the Golden Gate, the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple and the Birth of the Virgin (fol. 33r), the Visitation (fol. 46r), the Nativity (fol. 60r), the Annunciation to the Shepherds (fol. 66r), the Adoration of the Magi (fol. 71v), the Presentation in the Temple (fol. 77r), the Flight into Egypt, with fall of idol (fol. 83r), the Coronation of the Virgin (fol. 93r), David in prayer, with small miniatures representing David and Goliath, David returning in triumph with Goliath’s head on the point of the giant’s sword meeting women singing his praise, and David offering Goliath’s head to Saul (fol. 119r), the Crucifixion, with small miniatures representing Pilate washing his hands, the Scourging of Christ, and Christ carrying the Cross (fol. 145r), Pentecost (fol. 153r), Funeral service (fol. 160r), St Michael (fol. 215r), Sts Peter and Paul (fol. 216r), St Nicholas (fol. 217r), St Stephen (fol. 218r), St Sebastian (fol. 219r), St Laurence (fol. 220r), St Christopher (fol. 221r), St Magdalene (fol. 222r), St Catherine (fol. 223r), St Margaret (fol. 224r), St Anthony (fol. 225r), St Barbara (fol. 226r), St Martha (fol 227r). Mottoes “Besoing en ay” in letters of silver, red and black against a golden ground (fol. 25v) and “La me veuge” in black letters against a golden ground (fol. 159v). The du Chastel arms (barry of six, or and gules) on fols 26r, 46r, 60r, 66r, 71v, 92v, 153r, 160r; overpainted: gules, two bars or (fols 26r, 60r and 66r), gules, possibly a lion crowned or (fols 46r, 71v, 153r and 160r), and gules, three bars or (fol. 92v). Good quality parchment, margins very slightly cropped, very minor damage to the outer frame of a few full-page miniatures; overall in very good condition. Wooden boards, partially bevelled along outer edges, sewn on five double-split spine bands of alum-tawed skin, late 15th century; two endbands of alum-tawed skin with decorative sewing in alternating red and green threads (tail endband damaged), in contemporary red velvet, edges gilt; joints and edges worn, old repairs to spine.
The illumination of this beautifully produced Book of Hours, Use of Rome, is attributable to Maître François Le Barbier. Maître François was active in Paris between c. 1460 and 1480 and has been identified as the son of Jean Rolin, as well as possibly the father of the Maître de Jacques de Besançon (see M. Deldicque, “L’enluminure à Paris à la fin du XVe siècle: Maître François, le Maître de Jacques de Besançon et Jacques de Besançon identifié?”, Revue de l’Art, 183.1, 2014, pp. 9-18). His style was characterised by well-ordered compositions with elegant and slender if slightly stiff figures within sumptuous architectural settings, often on two or more registers, painted in a rich palette of intense and vibrant colours. His atelier, situated on the bridge of Notre-Dame, was very successful and [ ], and dominated the market of illuminated manuscripts in the third quarter of the fifteenth century in Paris (F. Avril and N. Reynaud in Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440 – 1520, Paris, 1995, p. 45, number fifty attributed manuscripts, often of gigantic proportions and in multiple volumes), with many imitators.
Thirty extant Books of Hours are attributed to Maître François and his atelier, many of which were commissioned by non-Parisian patrons, including Jacques de Langeac, son of Jean, sénéchal of Auvergne, whose Hours is datable to 1465 – 1468 (Lyon, Bibl. Municipale, MS. 5154; see Avril and Reynaud 1995, no. 14). The architectural settings in the miniatures of the Langeac Heures, dated 1465 by their scribe, are simple and less ornate than in the present book. The style and palette of the miniatures in the latter are closer to a miscellany known as Le Mignon, which includes Henri Romain’s Abrégé de Tite-Live, the Compendium historial and other texts (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Fr. 9186). This historical miscellany was produced about 1470 for Jacques d’Armagnac, Duke of Nemour (1433 – 1477), but was taken from his library following his defeat during the siege of the Château de Carlat in 1476 and given in reward for his valliance to the military captain Tanneguy or Tanguy IV du Chastel (see Avril and Reynaud 1995, no. 15; R. Claerr, “Un couple de bibliophiles Bretons du XVe siècle,” Le Trémazan des Du Chastel, 2006, pp. 169-87: p. 170; J.-L. Deuffic, “L’évêque et le soldat, Jean et Tanguy (IV) Du Chastel”). A date in the 1470s is plausible for the present Book of Hours as well.
The original arms here have been overpainted, but are still visible from the back. Barry of six, or and gules, they are identifiable as those of Tanguy IV du Chastel’s family, at the time one of the most prominent in Brittany. This identification is validated by the inclusion of the number of Breton saints in the otherwise Parisian calendar: Brigide, Albin, Patrice, Mamert, Yves, Donatien martyr of Nantes, Turiaw bishop of Dol, Magloire, Cler first bishop of Nantes, Malo, Maudez and Columbain.
Tanguy IV du Chastel ((1425-1477), Grand Esquire of France for King Charles VII (r. 1422-1461), Grand Maître d’hôtel and captain of Nantes for François II, Duke of Brittany (r. 1458-1488), and governor of Roussillon and Cerdagne for King Louis XI (r. 1461-1483), was a well-known bibliophile. He is perhaps not, however, the original owner of the present manuscript. Being the fourth son, his arms (barry of six, or and gules, a bordure counterchanged) should have a cadency mark or brisure and were so represented generally in the manuscripts he commissioned or owned, often together with his wife, Jeanne Raguenel-Malestroit (d. 1506). They can be found in the above-mentioned Le Mignon miscellany (fol. 252), and of the Histoire Ancienne jusqu’à César (now New York Public Library, Spencer 041, and Rennes, Métropole, MS. 2331, for which see http://manuscrit7.rssing.com/chan-5252971/all_p7.html). In addition, the mottoes “Besoing en ay” (fol. 25v) and “La me veuge” (fol. 159v) differ from the motto “i li est Deu” often found in Tanguy and Jeanne du Chastel’s manuscripts.
Here, Maître François portrayed the owner of the manuscript as a blond relatively youthful noble layman, whereas Tanguy may have been in his late forties or early fifties when the manuscript was commissioned and would have been more probably portrayed as a military captain rather than a courtier. The owner is shown wearing a black tabard over a burgundy doublet and dark grey tunica with a low belt, also burgundy, kneeling before the Virgin and Child and offering a red-velvet jewellery box. The style of the clothing and the black-velvet and fur bonnet, hanging on the youth’s back, puts the date of the decoration to the 1470s.
The noble owner must belong to the main line of the du Chastel family. He is possibly identifiable with Tanguy’s grandnephew and namesake Tanguy du Chastel (d. 1521), seigneur du Chastel et du Poulmic, Lescoët, Leslein et Kersalio. From the marriage of his father Olivier du Chastel (d. after 1476) with Marie de Poulmic on 27 January 1459, young Tanguy was in his late teens when the manuscript was commissioned. He might have passed the manuscript on to his son Olivier (1516 – 1550), who was elected abbot of Notre-Dame de Daoulas in 1535. Olivier could have commissioned the addition of the galero with six tassels to the original arms after this appointment. Lack of space caused the modification of the arms as “gules, two bars or” on fols 26r, 60r and 66r, whereas on fol. 92v the galero and its decorated frame were added without the need of altering the original arms.
It is unlikely that a teenage boy commissioned a manuscript of such sophistication and cost. It is much more likely that it was commissioned by a patron of considerable wealth, bibliographic experience and taste, and was presented to the young man on his coming of age or other similar achievement. In that case, by far the most likely patron was Tanguy IV du Chastel, his wife, or indeed both of them. It would be consistent with the quality of books that each was collecting and was perhaps intended as an encouragement to the recipient nephew to share their passion; they had no son. Tanguy died in 1477.
The fate of the manuscript in the following centuries is mysterious. Sometime in the sixteenth or seventeenth century the arms on fols 46r, 71v, 153r and 160r were modified, possibly as “gules, a lion crowned or” (fols 46r, 71v, 153r and 160r), unidentified. A possible eighteen-century owner was Louis Abraham d’Harcourt-Beuvron (1694 – 1750), abbot of Preuilly, Signy and Saint-Taurin. His arms were “gules, two bars or” as the modified arms on fols 26r, 60r and 66r, and he could have asked for the arms on fol. 92v to be modified as “gules, three bars or.” Abbot d’Harcourt-Beuvron was an influential figure in Paris in the second quarter of the century and on 1 January 1748 was elected Commandeur du Saint-Esprit. He was also Canon and Honorary Dean of Notre-Dame, and in 1746 the cathedral Chapter bestowed on him and his family the Chapel of St Peter and St Stephen, were he was on 27 September 1750.
The eighteenth-century modification to the original arms on fol. 92v seems to exclude the suggestion that the manuscript was acquired by Cardinal Niccolò Maria Lercari (1675 – 1757). In fact, his arms were identical to the du Chastel and here would have been no need to alter them. He might, however, have come across the manuscript during his time as vice-legate in Avignon (July 1739 and June 1744) and found the similarity between his arms and those in the manuscript appealing. This hypothesis is supported by the presence of the note in Italian “Fogli gotica duecentoventisei = / Figure de Santi Trentuno =” on fol. 235r, the manuscript was in Italian hands sometime between the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
In the twentieth century the manuscript belonged to three distinguished English and American collectors: Captain Robert George Wilmot Berkeley (1898-1969), of Spetchley Park and Berkeley Castle, High Sheriff of Worcestershire and first-class cricketer (his sale, Sotheby’s, 29 November 1949, lot 19, as one of “Three manuscripts of exceptional quality”); Apsley George Benet Cherry-Garrard (1886-1959), a former member of Captain Scott’s 1910-1913 expedition to the British Antarctic, author of The Worst Journey in the World and bibliophile (his sale, Sotheby’s, 5 June 1961, lot 130); Paul Francis Webster (1907-1984), lyricist and composer (his gilt leather booklabel on upper pastedown; his sale, Sotheby’s New York, 24 April 1985, lot 100).
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