MedievalBooksOfHours

Les Enluminures

OF CONSIDERABLE CHARM AND MODEST PROPORTIONS REFLECTING THE EVERYDAY PIETY PRACTICED IN A FLEMISH HOUSEHOLD

Book of Hours (Use of Rome?)
In Latin, illuminated manuscript, on parchment
Southern Netherlands, Ghent or Bruges, c. 1480
4 full-page miniatures; 8 historiated initials

Homespun realism characterizes this Book of Hours from the southern Netherlands.  Painted by three artists, the manuscript is in fine condition with full-page pictures with generous margins and full-page pictures introducing the main textual sections.  A Dutch-influenced artist painted one miniature and a historiated initial.  A Flemish artist contributed the other full-page pictures.  And, the animated and charming historiated initials are by a third hand. 

105 leaves (three of them blanks), single column, 18 lines to the page, in a quite regular and pleasing gothic book hand; lacking one calendar leaf (September/October), otherwise complete; rubrics in red, a great many one-line initials either in burnished gold or blue (both with penwork embellishment), quite a number of two-line (and a handful of four- and five-line) initials in burnished gold on a blue and pink ground with white tracery, a total of 21 LARGE INITIALS (six or seven lines high) always accompanied by a full or three-quarter page border of acanthus, fruit, and burnished gold ivy leaves, EIGHT VERY CHARMING HISTORIATED INITIALS, AND FOUR FULL-PAGE MINIATURES (the historiated initials accompanied by one of the three-quarter borders mentioned above, and the miniatures always with a facing page containing one of the full borders as well as a seven-line initial); two of the blanks ruled, the other one with inch-long Medieval stitching to close-up a hole in the middle of the vellum leaf; many leaves with faint dampstain along half inch at the edge of the bottom margin (and very near the end, up the fore margin as well), with consequent minor rumpling, but not affecting text or illustration, some soiling from normal use, otherwise only quite minor defects: in general, a very well-preserved manuscript, the thick vellum quite bright, and the paint and gold virtually without any flaking. Bound in modern red velvet, signed S. Wiklander (?) on rear pastedown, in a fine red morocco folding box with gilt lettering. Dimensions 168 x 124 mm.

Homespun realism characterizes this Book of Hours from the southern Netherlands.  Painted by three artists, the manuscript is in fine condition with full-page pictures with generous margins and full-page pictures introducing the main textual sections.  A Dutch-influenced artist painted one miniature and a historiated initial.  A Flemish artist contributed the other full-page pictures.  And, the animated and charming historiated initials are by a third hand. 

PROVENANCE

1. The appearance in the Calendar of saints venerated in Bruges and the style of the miniatures suggests the southern Netherlands as the origin.  For the saints:  9 May, Translation of Saint Nicolas; 13 June, Saint Basil; 4 July, Translatino of Saint Martin,; 1 November, Saint Hubert; 26 June, Saint Eligius.  The border decoration can be related to Ghent manuscripts by the Master of the Flemish Boethius (see for example: Miniatures flamandes, exh. Brussels, 2002, p. 431). The very specific initials with foliage in liquid gold on red fields are found in the same group, but also in an Antwerp Book of Hours recently sold at Christie's (12 July 2017, lot 17). For these observations we thank Dominique van Wijnsberghe.  Although the Hours of the Virgin identifies the text as the Use of Rome, the combination of Antiphons and Capitulums does not occur in Madan and differs from the standard Use of Rome.

2. Private Collection

TEXT

ff. 2-6v, Calendar, in Latin (for the saints see Provenance).

ff.7-9v, Short Hours of the Cross;

f.10, blank;

ff.11-13v, Short Hours of the Holy Spirit;

ff.14-23, Mass of the Virgin

ff. 23v-24, blank (23v ruled);

ff. 25-59v, Hours of the Virgin for the Use of Rome, with Matins (ff. 25-32v), Lauds (ff. 33-41), Prime (ff. 41v-44), Terce (ff. 44v-46v), Sext (ff. 47-49), None (ff. 49v-51v), Vespers (ff. 52-56v), Compline (ff. 57-59v);

f. 60-60v, blank (ruled);

ff. 61-62v, O intemerata;

ff. 63-65v, Obsecro te;

ff. 66-66v, Salve Regina;

ff. 67-71v, Suffrages, Archangel Michael (f. 67), John the Baptist (f. 67v), Saint George (f.68), Saint Antony (f. 68v), Saint Christopher (f. 69), Saint Catherine (f. 70v), Saint Barbara (f. 71);

f. 72, blank;

ff. 73-84v, Penitential Psalms and Litanies (ff. 81v-84);

ff. 85, blank;

ff. 86-104v, Office of the Dead;

ff.105-105v, blank (ruled);

ILLUSTRATION

Full Page Miniatures

f. 10v, Coronation of the Virgin with the dove above (the presence of the God the Father, Christ and the dove transform this Coronation into a type of Trinity, which is a more appropriate subject for the introduction of the text);

f. 24v, The Annunciation;

f. 72v, King David at Prayer;

f. 85v, Funeral Mass;

Historiated Initials

f. 61, Madonna and Christ Child;

f. 67, Archangel Michael doing battle with Satan;

f. 67v, John the Baptist in his hair shirt;

f. 68, Saint George slaying the dragon;

f. 68v, Saint Antony outside his hermitage;

f. 69, Saint Christopher ferrying the Christ Child;

f. 70v, Saint Catherine at her wheel;

f. 71, Saint Barbara reading by her tower;

The full-page miniatures may be by two hands (the artist responsible for the Annunciation, King David, and the Funeral Mass is distinct from the hand who painted the Coronation).  A third artist intervened to contribute the historiated initials.  This third artist displays a greater liveliness, assurance of line, and artistic sophistication.  Saint George in his brilliantly reflective and minutely detailed armor represents not just a triumph over the dragon, but also a charming and impressive achievement in a small space.  Saint Michael is similarly executed.

Blank on the verso, the full-page miniatures would have been inserted, as frequently occurred with fifteenth-century Flemish and Netherlandish Books of Hours. 

LITERATURE

Bousmanne, Bernard and Thierry Delcourt, Miniatures flamandes 1404-1482, Brussels and Paris (exh. cat), 2011.

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Reference Number: 159
EUR 70500 GBP 63400 USD 80000