Readily held in one hand or hidden away in a pocket, this diminutive Book of Hours comes from the great Cathedral town of Reims in the Champagne district. Our painter is named after a manuscript in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Easy to read, often written with large sections in French instead of Latin, many Books of Hours in this group were made for women. The rich and colorful borders are full of strawberries, forget-me-nots, and daisies, and many text pages display delicate sprays of flowers. The artistic roots of the style are Parisian.
190 ff., bound out of order and lacking several gatherings (collation: i12 [Calendar, in French, including Saint Remy, archbishop of Reims, in red, 13 January, ff. 1-12], ii8 [Gospel Sequences, ff. 13-20], lacking several gatherings, iii6 [of 8, lacking i-ii, opening near the start of Lauds in the Hours of the Virgin, ff. 21-26], iv8 [the rest of Lauds, ff. 27-34], lacking many gatherings with all the rest of the Hours of the Virgin, v8 [the hymn O royne qui fustes mise, in French verse, ff.35-42], vi11 [of 12, lacking i, the hymn Glorieuse vierge royne lacking its opening, in French verse, ff. 43-53], lacking many gatherings, vii7 [of 8, lacking i, end of the Penitential Psalms, opening of the Litany, including Saints Nichasius, Remigius, and Rigobert, all bishops or archbishops of Reims, ff.54-60], viii2 [complete, prayers following the Litany, ff. 61-62], ix2 [of unknown number, possibly lacking texts between i and ii, further prayers and hymns following the Litany, ff. 63-64], x10 [further prayers, including one for which Boniface VI offered indulgences et est loriginal en bule de ploncq ou tresor du roy, some in French verse, ff. 65-74], xi11 [of 12, lacking last (perhaps blank), further hymns in French verse, including those addressed to Saints Sebastian and Nicholas, ff. 75-85], xii8 [opening of the Office of the Dead [Use of Reims], ff. 86-93], xiii4 [textually complete, structure indeterminable, Office of the Dead continued, ff. 94-97], xiv12 [Office of the Dead continued, ff. 98-109], xv12 [Office of the Dead continued, ff. 110-121], xvi12 [Office of the Dead continued, ff. 122-133], xvii12 [Office of the Dead to the end, ff. 134-145], probably lacking a gathering with the Hours of the Cross, xviii4 [of unknown number, lacking leaves at end, the hymn Ihesu crist a matines, in French verse, usually accompanying the Hours of the Cross, ff.146-149], xix7 [of 8, lacking i, the Hours of the Holy Ghost, and the hymn Ihesus doulx dieu, in French verse, ff. 150-156], xx12 [further verses in French, including the 15 Joys of the Virgin, Doulce dame glorieuse, ff. 157-168], xxi12 [French verses addressed to the Virgin continued, ff. 169-180], xxii10 [French verses addressed to the Virgin continued, and an added prayer in Latin ascribed to Saint Gregory, ff. 181-190], written in brown ink, numerous small gilt initials on a blue background, four full borders of acanthus, ivy leaves and rinceaux in color with gold leaf, large initials and line endings in blue and mauve with gold leaf, with five large miniatures under arched frames. Some staining, cropped, miniature of Crucifixion abraded probably from devotional kissing, last few pages soiled, generally in good condition. Bound in modern blind stamped brown calf. Dimensions 80 x 60 mm.
1. Made in western Champagne for the use of Reims based on the calendar, the litany, and the style of the illumination. The calendar includes, among other local saints, Saint Remy (Remigius), archbishop of Reims, in red, on 13 January. The litany includes Saints Nicasius, Remigius, and Rigobert, all bishops or archbishops of Reims. The style of the illumination is by the hand of the Master of Walters 269, an artist active in western Champagne, who executed a number of Books of Hours for local clients, and of which the eponymous manuscript, Walters Art Museum, MS 269, was made for someone named Collette near Reims (see especially F. Avril, et al., 2007, pp. 66 and 116-21, and Randall, 1992, vol. 2, no. 129, pp. 129-144). The Aiguillon d’amour divin (sold New York, Christie’s New York, 2013, lot 1) from the same group may have been made for a sister of the Hôtel-Dieu in Reims.
2. Private European Collection.
ff. 1-12, Calendar, in French, including Saint Remy, archbishop of Reims, in red, 13 January;
ff. 13-20, Gospel Sequences;
ff. 21-34, Hours of the Virgin, opening near the start of Lauds;
ff. 35-42, Hymn O royne qui fustes mise, in French verse,
ff. 43-53, Hymn, Glorieuse vierge royne, lacking its opening, in French verse
ff. 54-60, end of the Penitential Psalms, opening of litany, including Saints Nichasius, Remigius, and Rigobert, all bishops or archbishops of Reims;
ff. 61-75, prayers following the litany, including including one for which Boniface VI offered indulgences “et est loriginal en bule de ploncq ou tresor du roy”, some in French verse,
ff. 75-85, further hymns in French verse, including those addressed to Saints Sebastian and Nicholas
ff. 86-145, Office of the Dead (use of Reims);
ff. 146-149, Hours of the Cross, beginning and ending incomplete, including at the end the hymn Ihesu crist a matines, in French verse, usually accompanying the Hours of the Cross;
ff. 150-156, the Hours of the Holy Ghost, and the hymn Ihesus doulx dieu, in French verse;
ff. 157-168, further verses in French, including the Fifteen Joys of the Virgin, Doulce dame glorieuse,
ff. 169-180, French verses addressed to the Virgin continued;
ff. 181-190, added prayer in Latin ascribed to Saint Gregory.
f. 13, Saint John the Evangelist, holding a cup [Gospel Sequences];
f. 23, Coronation of the Virgin [Hours of the Virgin];
f. 74, Raising of Lazarus;
f. 133v, Crucifixion;
f. 157v, Virgin and Child enthroned [Fifteen Joys of the Virgin].
The hand of the Master of Walters 269 is easily recognizable: his figures are tall or squat with broad faces and large hands, the faces tapering to the chin. His palette is colorful with reds, greens, and blues, and extensive use of gold leaf. Christ’s halo is marked with a red cruciform. The borders of the garments are often lined with gold highlights. As in Walters 269, the frames of the miniatures are arched with a mauve inner line defined with white. The colorful borders combine acanthus and ivy leaf. There is some residue of Parisian influence, especially that of the Bedford Master.
Clark has to date identified eight manuscripts and four cuttings belonging to the Walters 269 group (2014, pp. 23-41).The group of manuscripts belonging to this style is somewhat disparate, and more than one hand must have been involved. Some of them have large gold acanthus in the backgrounds of the miniatures, whereas others have gold checkerboard backgrounds such as St. John and the Virgin and Child Enthroned. The Bibliotheque municipal at Reims acquired two manuscripts by this master: MS 2788 (cat. 18) and MS 2852 (cat. 17), both written for the use of Reims. Ours is perhaps closest to a Book of Hours (Location Unknown) that was sold at Sotheby’s in 1982 (London, 7 December 1982, lot 89). Compare the Crucifixion in both manuscripts (ex-London, f. 88, Clark fig. 4, and f. 133v of the present Horae). According to Clark’s newly proposed chronology, these would date c. 1450s, whereas the earliest codices are pushed back to the 1430s and the last ones, with more plastic modelling and developed settings as late as the 1460s.
The diminutive size of the present example (compare to the Reims Book of Hours in the Collection of Dr. Scott Schwartz, Clark, fig. 19) and the large amount of text in French, including for the hymns and prayers at the Hours are unusual and merit further study in the context of the group.
Avril, F. and M. Hermant. Très Riches Heures de Champagne, exhibition catalogue, 2007.
Clark, Gregory T. “Walters 269 and Manuscript Illumination in Rheims in the Second Third of the Fifteenth Century,” Journal of the Walters Art Museum 72 (2014), pp. 23-41.
Randall, L.M.C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, vol. 2, France 1420-1540, Baltimore, 1992.
Wieck, R. Time Sanctified. The Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life, New York and Baltimore, 1988 (especially pp. 118, 188).