Les Enluminures


Book of Hours (Use of Rome)
In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Southern Netherlands, c. 1450, with late 16th-century additions in French
With 8 full-page miniatures by an anonymous artist (illuminator of The Hague, KB 76 G 7)

Very interesting Book of Hours in clean condition and with a pilgrim’s badge, a book mark, and inserted woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer as pastedowns. The richly colored miniatures on highly burnished gold leaf are by a southern Netherlandish artist who deserves further study and who painted a twin Book of Hours now in The Hague (KB 76 G 7). Its attribution to Amiens (asserted on the box) is based on additions to the calendar in a near-contemporary hand. Perhaps it was actually made for export since there are no earlier indications of use in the Netherlands.

ii (paper) + 112 + iii (paper) parchment folios, incomplete (collation: i7 (wanting i), ii2 (bifolium), iii4 (wanting at least i and iv), iv4 (wanting at least ii and iii), v7 (miniature on singleton), vi6, vii8 (two miniatures on singletons), viii5 (miniature on singleton, wanting i), ix7 (two miniatures on singletons), x7 (miniature on singleton), xi6, xii7 (miniature on singleton), xiii-xiv6, xv-xvii8, xviii4), written in a gothic bookhand script in dark brown ink on 20 lines in a single column with rubrics in red, capitals touched in yellow, 1-line initials in blue or liquid gold with contrasting penwork, with larger initials in gold on blue and pink grounds, two 5-line initials for “O intemerata” and “Obsecro te” prayers in burnished bold on two-tone grounds with penwork in white and with upper and lower margins filled with flower and scrolling vinework, EIGHT FULL-PAGE MINIATURES with arch-topped frames in red and pink and with gold borders, each miniature and adjacent page with fully decorated borders of sprays of acanthus, flowers, scrolling vinework and with 6-line burnished gold initials in blue or pink decorated with rinceaux; two paper flyleaves at front, one with a circular pilgrim’s badge with the Virgin holding the Christ Child and a lilly, sewn on with white thread, the badge with a fracture down the center and with sections of the outer border missing, with additional thread holes and impressions remaining from at least two other badges (now lost); with a very small rectangular woodcut of the Virgin and Child on paper inserted at folio 104; bound nineteenth-century brown leather over pasteboards, with single floral rollstamp and a central board filled with chevrons, with front and rear paper pastedowns of woodcuts attributed to Albrecht Dürer, at front with demons carrying human souls into the torments of Hell and stoking the flames of a hellmouth with bellows, and at back with a woodcut of the Coronation of the Virgin (Schreiber 5455) with inscription in pencil “Nürnberg c. 1480?”, both from a devotional work by Bernardino of Siena (Ein Allerhailsamste warnung vor der falschenn lieb diser werlt, printed in Nuremberg by Peter Wagner, c. 1489); the binding scuffed on some surfaces and otherwise in good condition, with fitted brown leather slipcase, lined with marbled paper, and title “Book of Heures / Made for the use of the church of Amiens / circa 1410” gilt-tooled on spine in floral and chainlink compartments. Dimensions 186 x 128 mm.


1. The manuscript is typical of illumination in the southern Netherlands around 1450. The calendar contains saints localizable to the Low Countries: Saint Lambert, 17 September, Saint Hubert, 3 November, both venerated in Liège. A near-contemporary hand has translated the names of the months and many feasts in the calendar into French and added additional feasts localizable to Amiens, with another inscription of about the same date adds a French devotional verse in blank space on fol. 7v: “Chaste est plus belle / humilitie plus leure / et c(h)arite est la mileure.” The identification of the origins of the manuscript “for the use of the church of Amiens” as stamped on the box doubtless comes from the addition to the calendar (late 15th or early 16th centuries) of a number of local saints:  for example, Invention of Saint Firmin (13 January), Saint Firmin Confessor (1 September, this in a 15th century hand), Saint Firmin Martyr (25 September). The same hand has, interestingly, translated the Latin names of the months into French.

2. Prayers added after f. 95 in the late 15th or early 16th centuries with the word “Courtois” on f. 112v, perhaps the motto of a French-speaking owner. The prayer for use in a cemetery on f. 97, granting as many days of pardon as there are bodies buried in the graveyard, is credited to Pope Innocent XI [sic?] (r. 1676-1689).

3. Descriptive notes in German, late nineteenth or early twentieth century, with “1777” on paper endleaf, the publication date for the edition of Schreger’s Zeitvertreiber from which the notes are referenced, with explanations of the canonical hours of the day. The caption to the woodcut pasted to the rear boards (attributed to Albrecht Dürer and printed in Nüremberg by Peter Wagner, c. 1489) is written in this same hand.

4. Early twentieth-century engraved heraldic bookplate of Edward A. Woods pasted to front paper flyleaf, with the motto “Virtus vera nobilitas est” and inscribed “091” and “MSL 5.” Edward A. Woods (d. 1927) was a bibliophile of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, who owned an extensive collection of printed books and commissioned a number of fine private printings of texts in the second decade of the twentieth century.


f. 1r, Devotional material in French, listing the Deadly Sins;

ff. 1v-8v, Calendar;

f. 8r-22v, Hymns and Gospel readings;

ff. 23r-55v, Hours of the Virgin, lacking the office of Nones, with Lauds (f. 23r), Prime (f. 32r), Terce (f. 38r), Sext (f. 40r), Vespers (f. 44r), and Compline (f. 51r);

ff. 55r-66v, Seven Penitential Psalms, followed by a Litany;

ff. 67r-88v, Office of the Dead;

ff. 89r-93v, O intemerata;

ff. 91r-93v, Obsecro te;

ff. 94r-112v, added prayers in French and Latin: f. 94r, Saint Francis and Saint Anthony of Padua, f. 94v, Saint Bernard, f. 95r, Saint Clare, f. 96r, the Holy Trinity (De la sainte trinite; rubric on 95v), ff. 96r-97r, the Sixty-Two Names of the Virgin Mary, f. 97r, prayer for indulgences in the cemetery of a church derived from Pope Innocent XI; ff. 97r-98r, verses of St. Bernard, ff. 98r-98v, Commemoration of the Five Holy Martyrs, f. 98v-99r, Commemoration of the Five Privileged Virgins, ff. 99r-99v, Memoire de Saint loys de Marcelles, Saint Anthonie, Saint Bernardin et Sainte Claire, f. 100r, Saint Barbara, f. 100v, Saint Nazaire f. 101r, Saint Catherine, f. 101v, Saint Mary (Saluto de sancta maria), f. 102r, Quant on lieve le corps nostre seigneur, f. 102v, prayer for thirty-three days of pardon derived from Pope John XXII, f. 102v, prayer against thunder after Saint Thomas Aquinas (Contre le tonnoirre que saint thomas de aquin disoit), f. 102v, prayer against plague or sickness (Contre le pestilence), f. 103r, Saint Anne (“Orison de madame saint Anne”), ff. 103r-103v, prayer for the Two Sisters of Our Lady (“Orison des deux soeurs nostre dame”), f. 103v-104r, Saint Apollonia, ff. 104r-104v, Commemoration for All Saints, f. 104v, Saint Anthony Confessor, f. 105r, Saint James the Apostle, ff. 105r-105v, Saint Fiacre, ff. 105v-106r, prayer to Our Lord Jesus Christ, f. 106r, Saint Fremin Martyr, ff. 106r-107r, Saint Genevieve (beginning “Vierge doulce vierge benigne”), ff. 107r-107v, Saint Andrew, ff. 107v-108r, Saint Adrien, ff. 108r-108v, Saint Sulpice, ff. 108v-109r, devotion to Our Lady (Devote orison a notre dame), f. 109r, Saint Nicholas, ff. 109r-109v, Saint Margaret, ff. 109v-110v, Saints Cosmas and Damian, f. 110v, Saint Avis (Avoye), f. 111r, Our Father, ff. 111v-112r, Credo, f. 112v, the Seven Prayers of Saint Gregory on the Passion of the Lord.


Eight full-page miniatures (all inserted singletons), lacking the Office of Nones:

f. 22v, Betrayal of Christ (Lauds);

f. 31v, Christ before Pilate (Prime);

f. 35v, Christ on the Scourge Column (Terce);

f. 39v, Christ carrying the Cross (Sext);

f. 44v, Deposition from the Cross (Vespers);

f. 52v, Entombment of Christ,

f. 54v, The Last Judgment, with three people rising from their graves;

f. 66v, Funeral Service, with a priest holding a book and aspergillum flanked by two hooded figures in dark robes.

A very similar but more complete set of miniatures exists in a Book of Hours in the Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 76 G 7. Almost certainly by the same artist, these two Books of Hours can be considered sisters. The composition and coloring are similar even in their details, including in some cases the patterns of scrolling vinework in the borders. The opportunity to directly compare miniatures by the same artist, as of yet unidentified, is rare. The slightly more accomplished rendering of eyes and faces in the present manuscript suggests it is the later of the two. With the addition of this Book of Hours to the artist’s oeuvre it is now possible to shed new light on this painter and workshop. We are grateful to Prof. James Marrow and Prof. Dominique Vanwijnsberghe for their expertise and for locating the sister manuscript.

Additions to the manuscript, including a metal pilgrim’s badge, give rare details about how it was used. The unidentified badge with the Virgin and Child sewn to a front flyleaf could have been worn by a traveler to mark their journey, or perhaps also as a protective talisman. Also added, and acting as a bookmark at folio 104, is a tiny print of the Virgin and Child. Small printed images such as these were often printed in sheets and cut to size. Pasted into the front and back covers of the binding are woodcut prints with demons torturing souls and with the Coronation of the Virgin attributed to Albrecht Dürer (Schreiber 5455), printed by Peter Wagner in Nuremberg around 1489.


Unpublished; see

König, E., Devotion from Dawn to Dusk: The Office of the Virgin in Books of Hours of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Hague, Leiden, 2012, p. 27 (with reference to KB 76 G 7).

Schreiber, W. L. Handbuch der Holz- und Metallschnitte des XV. Jahrhunderts, 12 vols., Leipzig, 1926-1930.


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Reference Number: 169
EUR 79900 GBP 70300 USD 90000