BOOK OF HOURS Use of Autun

[France, perhaps Autun, c. 1480]


130mm x 88mm, 208 leaves, some catchwords but collation impractical, wanting 2 leaves after fol. 24, another after fols. 85 and 152 and one at end, single column of 15 lines of lettre bâtarde, red rubrics, one- and 2-line initials in blue and liquid gold with contrasting penwork, larger initials in dark blue on burgundy grounds enclosing liquid gold scrollwork, some leaves with decorated borders of coloured and acanthus leaves and more realistic foliage on liquid gold or blank vellum shapes, 5-line historiated initial opening the Office of the Dead, with a young woman (perhaps the original owner) being struck down by Death, here as a spear wielding skeleton, some slight cockling and small spots and stains, else excellent condition; contemporary binding of brown calf over wooden boards, blind-stamped in rectangles filled with fleur-de-lys, a monkey, a bird, and a foliate scroll, small scuffs and ink stains, rebacked and restored.


Written and illuminated c. 1480, most probably for a patron in Autun: Calendar with local saints, Nazarus and Celsus (28 July, with octave, to whom the original cathedral of Autun was dedicated), St Lazare (1 September, with “Hic fit de sancto Lazaro” on 2 and 3 September), the revelatio of St Lazare (20 October, with octave), Proculus (4 November), the adventus reliquiarum of Nazarius and Celsus (6 November), Amator (26 November), and the dedication of the church of St Lazare (20 December), with these and further local saints in the Litany (SS. Martial, Trophine, and Saturnine).


The volume comprises: a Calendar (fol. 1r); the Obsecro te (fol. 13r) and O intemerata (fol. 17v); the Gospel extracts (fol. 21r); the Hours of the Virgin (fol. 25r); the Seven Penitential Psalms (fol. 86r) with a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol. 106r); seasonal variants for the hours (fol. 153r, wanting last leaf).

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