This manuscript comes from the fertile borderland between France and Flanders during a crucial moment of artistic creativity in Amiens. The haunting style of this painter merges Parisian courtly elegance with the northern realism of the Flemish primitives to pioneer a new form of pictorial representation. Our artist is known in very few Books of Hours. Familiar with Flemish panel painters such as the Master of Flémalle and Roger van der Weyden, he uses green shadows and imposing figures set either in homey interiors or realistic landscapes.
208 folios, mostly in gatherings of 8( i12, ii6-1, iii6, iv-v8, vi-vii8-1, viii8, ix8-1, x-xi8, xii10, xiii8-1, xv-xviii8, xix4, xx8, xxi4, xxii-xxvi8, xxvii6, xxviii5-2), lacking one leaf after the calendar and 4 others, missing 5 miniatures, written in a gothic book hand in brown ink on 17 long lines (justification 95 x 65 mm.), no ruling visible, rubrics in red, 1-line initials in burnished gold leaf with red and blue calligraphic penwork, line endings rectangular, half rose and half blue with white filigree designs, burnished gold circles at either end of the design, illuminated 3-to 7-line initials, numerous full borders of acanthus, flowers, and birds on the pages with full-page illumination, and partial borders with small leaves and flowers on the text pages, with 27 full-page illuminations all in arched compartments, in excellent condition. Seventeenth-century French red morocco binding, gold filet tooling, gilt edges. Dimensions 181 x 135 mm.
1. Made in Amiens in Picardy, in the third/fourth decade of the fifteenth century. The calendar is localized to Amiens, as are the use, the suffrages, and the litanies. The manuscript was made for a local woman, Philippot de Nantere, who is shown kneeling before the Virgin and Child on f. 146. Her arms are impaled with those of her husband, Thierry de la Cloche (the Seigneur of Roquoncourt) in the border below and again on f. 24: parti: 1. d’or, un chevron d’azure chargé de trois croisette d’argent, accompagné de 3 tourteaux de gueles; 2. d’argent, à deux fasces ondées d’azure.
2. François César Le Teller, Marquis of Courtanvaux (1712-1781) [Olivier, 1758], an amateur scientist and collector, whose ex-libris and stamp appears on the first and last folios; probably lot 41 in his sale in Paris, 4 March 1782.
3. Sotheby’s, London, 16-20 December 1929, lot 743. to Mrs. M. Bardsley-Powell; sold as her property at Sotheby’s, London, 9 July 1973, lot 68.
4. Paul-Louis Weiller (born Paris 1883; died Geneva 1993), French industrialist, philanthropist, and book collector, sold Paris, Drouot, 30 November 1998, lot 1.
5. Private Collection of James and Elizabeth Ferrell, USA.
ff. 1-12v, Calendar for Amiens with St. Firmin, the first bishop of Amiens, 13 January and 25
September, in gold; St. Firmin, third bishop of Amiens, 1 September; St. Honore, bishop
of Amiens, 16 May; and three martyrs of Amiens, Saints Fuscian, Gentian, and Victorius,
ff. 13-16v, Gospel Sequences
ff. 17-23v, Apostle’s Creed;
ff. 24-39, Hours of the Virgin (incomplete), with f. 24, Matins; f. 46, Lauds; f. 54, Prime; f. 58v, Terce; f. 62, Sext; f. 65, None; f. 68v, Vespers; f. 75, Compline;
ff. 79v-94v, Seven Penitential Psalms;
ff. 95-100v, Short Hours of the Cross;
ff. 101-106v, Hours of the Holy Spirit;
ff. 106-117v, Prayers to the Virgin, including “Obsecro te” and “O Intemerata”;
ff. 118-123, Hours of the Holy Sacrament;
ff. 123-127v, Suffrages;
ff. 127v-135v, Prayers in French;
ff. 136-145v, Prayer of Theophilus;
ff. 146-154, Fifteen Joys of the Virgin;
ff. 151-153v, Seven Requests of Our Lord;
ff. 154-158, Suffrages to Saints;
ff. 159-202, Office of the Dead;
ff. 202v-204, Prayers in French;
ff. 204v-207, Suffrages for Quentin, John the Baptist, and Catherine.
f. 17, Peter;
f. 17v, Andrew;
f. 18, James the Great;
f. 18v, John the Evangelist;
f. 19, Thomas;
f. 19v, James the Less;
f. 20, Philip;
f. 20v, Bartholomew;
f. 21, Matthew;
f. 21v, Simon;
f. 22, Jude;
f. 22v, Mathias
f. 24, Annunciation (Hand B);
f. 58v, Annunciation to the Shepherds;
f. 65, Presentation in the Temple;
f. 68v, Flight into Egypt (Hand B);
f. 75, Coronation of the Virgin;
f. 79v, David Praying in a Landscape (Hand B);
f. 101, Pentecost;
f. 118, Priest Celebrating Mass;
f. 136, Virgin Weaving (Hand B);
f. 146, Woman (Philippot of Nantere) kneeling before the Virgin;
f. 151, Last Judgment;
f. 154, Saint John the Baptist;
f. 155, Saint James the Great (Hand B);
f. 156, Saint Nicolas;
f. 159, Funeral Service.
The deluxe Hours of Philippot de Nantere is a key work in the oeuvre of the Master of Raoul d’Ailly in Amiens. The artist is named after the Hours of Raoul d’Ailly (Private Collection, United States; for which see London, Sotheby’s 11 July 1978, lot 48), a manuscript for which he painted all forty-seven of its miniatures. Few works by the artist are known. In addition to the d’Ailly Hours, one of the most important is the Hours of Jacques de Châtillon (now in the BnF, MS n. a. lat. 3231); twenty-seven of its fifty-four paintings are by the Master of Raoul d’Ailly. In every aspect of its text, decoration, and illumination, the Philippot de Nantere Hours is closely tied to the d’Ailly workshop. A small group of other works have been gathered together on which the artist occasionally collaborated with other Parisian-trained illuminators in Amiens between c. 1420 and c. 1450.
Let us set the stage for this artist’s important career. Netherlandish artists poured into Paris at the beginning of the fifteenth century (the Limbourg Brothers, Jean Malouel, perhaps the Boucicaut Master himself). Patronized by some of the leading bibliophiles of the day, including Jean Duke of Berry, these artists created a distinctive style, unifying the humble “realism” of their origins with the elegant courtly manner they found in vogue in the Paris courts. The glory of this “golden age” of book illumination effectively ended with the Battle of Agincourt (1415) and the subsequent occupation of Paris by the English with an English regent John Duke of Bedford on the throne in 1422 after the death of the Valois King Charles VI. The successor to the Boucicaut Master known as the Bedford Master (named for his masterpieces for the English regent) represents the last flowering of this style. Seeking new patronage, Parisian-trained artists thus went elsewhere. Their exit from the French capital accounts for the emergence of many important and creative provincial schools of illumination. Amiens is one such center.
In Amiens by the beginning of the 1420s, the Master of Raoul d’Ailly cultivated the patronage of leading figures from noble families: Jacques II de Châtillon was a count of Champagne; Raoul d’Ailly was a vidame or vice-lord (a feudal officer); and the Philippot de Nanterre was the wife of the Seigneur of Roquoncourt, Thierry de la Cloche, both high-ranking members of Amiens society. These three core manuscripts were all made to order and reflect many personal preferences of their patrons. Of the three manuscripts, only the Châtillon Hours is in the public domain and only since 2001, which partly accounts for the fact that the Master of Raoul d’Ailly has not received the attention his art merits.
The unique series of the saints, represented in an imposing, monumental style and illustrating Apostles Creed in the Philippot Hours, find their counterparts in the twenty-seven standing figures of the saints illustrating the Suffrages of the Châtillon Hours attributed to the Master of Raoul d’Ailly. The artist’s haunting style is his use of green paint for the modelling, massive figures, and settings of homey interiors or realistic landscapes. Traces of influence of the Bedford Master are found in the artist’s style, and S. Nash suspects the artist was locally trained in Amiens by a member of the Bedford Master’s workshop. More remarkable, however, is the artist’s knowledge and assimilation of Flemish painting. S. Nash has shown that his work includes a lost copy of a painting by the Master of Flemalle (Robert Campin) and moreover, that the illuminator must have personally seen the painting, because he imitates qualities of its painted surface, as well as its composition. She even suggests that the artist owned a work by Campin. Familiarity also with the work of Roger van der Weyden characterizes the artist’s “northern” style.
Chronicling the importance of the acquisition of the Châtillon Hours in 2001 by the BnF, François Avril wrote:
“Ce manuscrit est un document important pour l'histoire de l’art au XVe siècle. Il témoigne de l’affirmation d’un nouveau centre de production de manuscrits en France. Après la bataille d’Azincourt en 1415, les Anglais s’installent à Paris. Les enlumineurs vont chercher fortune dans d’autres villes. C’est ainsi qu’Amiens devient un centre très actif durant les années 1430-1450. Il témoigne de la confluence du réalisme flamand et du style courtois encore en vogue à Paris. Et, plus largement, du dialogue établi à cette époque entre les artistes du Sud et ceux du Nord, qui a fait évoluer la représentation picturale.” (Chroniques BnF, December 2001).
[This manuscript is an important document for the history of art of the fifteenth century. It witnesses the emergence of a new center of manuscript production in France. After the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the English were installed in Paris. Parisian illuminators went to seek their fortune in other towns. Amiens thus became a very active center during the years 1430-1450. It witnesses the confluence of Flemish realism and the courtly style in vogue in Paris. And, more importantly it witnesses the dialogue established during this period between artists of the South and those of the North, who together contributed to the evolution of pictorial representation].
Like the lavish Châtillon Hours, the Philippot Hours shows collaboration between a native Amienois artist and a Parisian-trained immigrant. The artist responsible for the miniatures of the Apostles, and the Suffrage miniature of St. James (Hand A), which are of very high quality, shares the d’Ailly Master’s predilection for vibrant colors, expressive faces, and the decorative use of drapery. Collaborating with this artist is Hand B, a Parisian-style painter, responsible for the Annunciation, the Presentation, the Virgin Weaving, and the Suffrages except St. James, etc. His style is related to that of the Master of Fitzwilliam 65, who was already working in Amiens in the 1420s (see S. Nash, no. 8, p. 285ff.).
The dress of Philippot, kneeling before the Virgin and Child on f. 186, dates later, perhaps as late as 1450. Closer examination of this folio, however, shows that her costume has been revamped to reflect a more up-to-date style with narrow sleeves and bodice, a repainting that must date during Philippot’s lifetime since the arms are original and show no evidence of overpainting. This new observation by Susie Nash helps place the Hours of Philippot of Nantere firmly in the early 1420s.
The Philippot Hours thus emerges as one of the earliest works of the Master of Raoul d’Ailly and one of his collaborators. It confirms the presence already at this date of immigrant Parisian artists in Amiens, and it reveals the indigenous roots of the powerful style of the Master of Raoul d’Ailly. The Master of Raoul d’Ailly was to become a major force in Amiens painting of the second quarter of the fifteenth century, contributing to the creation of pioneering forms of pictorial representation.
Nash, Susie. “A fifteenth-century French manuscript and an unknown painting by Robert Campin,” Burlington Magazine 137, no. 1107 (July 1995), pp. 428-37, reprinted in Susan Foster and Susie Nash, eds., Robert Campin: New Directions in Scholarship, Brepols,1996, pp. 105-116.
Nash, Susie. Between France and Flanders: Manuscript illumination in Amiens in the Fifteenth Century, London and Toronto, British Library, 1999, no. 16, pp. 319-22, and 175-77 (with earlier bibliography).
On the acquisition of the Livre d’heures de Jacques II de Châtillon by the BnF