Book of Hours, Use of Paris, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment [northern France (doubtless Paris), c. 1450]
204 leaves, collation impracticable, wanting a single leaf (once with a miniature), else complete, written in two sizes of script in single column of 14 lines of lettre bâtarde (ruled in burgundy, and with Calendar in red, liquid gold and blue), capitals touched in pale yellow wash, dark burgundy rubrics, one-line initials in blue or liquid gold with penwork in contrasting colour, larger initials in blue heightened in white, enclosing swirls of coloured foliage and on burnished gold grounds, most pages with decorated border panels of coloured and gilt acanthus leaves and stylised foliage terminating in leaves and seedpods, Calendar with each leaf decorated with decorated border panels and roundels in bas-de-page with zodiac symbols and monthly occupations set within borders of loosely intertwined coloured vines and coloured foliage (the interstitial spaces between these vines filled with gold in style reminiscent of work of the Bedford Master), twenty-four small arch topped miniatures set within gold frames and with three-quarter decorated borders of foliage as before, five three-quarter page miniatures set within gold frames, with thick gold frames with coloured foliage surrounding text, all within a full decorated border of foliage as before, all growing from green pastures at foot of bas-de-page (many with trees set in corners), the foliage enclosing birds and on one leaf a phoenix rising from the ashes of a fire and an erased coat of arms suspended from a tree and supported by two hairy wildwomen sitting within a wickerwork enclosure, some chipping to a few miniatures and small thumbing in a few places, a few leaves with slight cockling, else good condition, 118 by 86mm.; eighteenth-century morocco over pasteboards, gilt tooled with arms of Prondre de Guermantes below a ducal coronet and supported by lions rampant on both boards (see below), and gilt spine with monogram formed from initials "PP" beneath coronets in each compartment with floral stamps, title gilt: "Heures" set within hearts, gilt edges, splits at edges of boards and small losses from edges (especially foot of spine), but overall solid in binding, in card dropbox
1. Written and illuminated in Paris around the year 1440: note the prominence of St. Geneviève (the patron saint of the city) in gold on 3 January in the Calendar. The original patron appears in the miniature accompanying the prayer Ave alius conceptio, on fol. 174r, fashionably dressed and with a sword, kneeling in devotion before the Virgin and Child with this book open before him, his coat-of-arms (erased by a later owner), surmounted by a helm and a phoenix, hanging in a tree in the border, supported by hairy wildwomen within a withy enclosure.
2. Paulin Prondre de Guermantes et de Bussy (1650-1723), seigneur de Guermantes, Conseiller secrétaire du roi, receiver general for Lyons, president of the Chambre des comptes in Paris and celebrated French bibliophile: in his gilt armorial binding, and perhaps with his pen 'No 4862'. At the opening of the eighteenth century, he reconstructed the palace at Guermantes to the immediate west of Paris, and among other collections housed his vast library there. His dynastic line went extinct in 1805, and the contents of the house were widely dispersed.
3. Hannah Eliza Roscoe (née Caldwell; 1785-1854), received as a gift from her famous father-in-law, W. Roscoe (1753-1831), the prominent abolitionist of the slave trade, art collector, writer on Lorenzo de Medici and briefly MP for Liverpool, whose remaining book collection (including a Shakespeare First Folio, two block books, printing by Gutenberg, Furst & Schoeffer and Sweynhem & Pannartz, and a small collection of manuscripts) was sold by Winstanley of Liverpool on 19 August 1816. Her inscription to front endleaf records that the gift was made on the occasion of her marriage in 1818 (to Roscoe's eldest son William Stanley), as well as noting that she wrote the inscription in 1851 when she was 65 years old. The date "1819 28 Mai" added in her hand at the end of text.
4. Thereafter in the English-speaking trade, with notes on contents added in English by mid-twentieth-century hand to first endleaf.
Text and illumination:
The book comprises: a Calendar (fol. 1r); the Gospel Readings (fol. 14r); the Obsecro te and O intemerata (fol. 22r); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol. 33r), Lauds (fol. 59v), Prime (fol. 71r), Terce (fol. 76r), Sext (fol. 80r), Nones (fol. 84r), Vespers (fol. 88r) and Compline (fol. 92r); the Seven Penitential Psalms, ending with a Litany and prayers (fol. 98r; wanting first leaf with large miniature); the Hours of the Cross (fol. 117r); the Hours of the Holy Spirit (fol. 126r); the Office of the Dead (fol. 130r); followed by the Suffrages to the Saints, including a number of masses and prayers.
Despite the selection of small miniatures to open the Hours of the Virgin (an apparent attempt to economise on the commission) this volume has an impressive array of decoration. In addition to the Calendar with its twenty-four marginal miniatures, the book has twenty-seven small miniatures and five large miniatures, all by a skilled artist who worked in Paris in the years after the 1420s and 1430s. There is much here from the early decades of the fifteenth century, including the trees set on grassy mounds at the corners of the bas-de-page of some miniatures, as well as the intertwined frames of the roundels of the Calendar with their interstitial spaces filled with gold, which echo those of the Bedford Master, and the tall and angular stylised flowers in the bas-de-page of some of the large miniatures, which are close to the work of the Dunois Master (see F. Avril & N. Reynaud Les Manuscrits à Peintures en France, 1140-1520, p.37). Some of these features were reborn in the midpoint of the fifteenth century in the work of the Maître Francois and the Maître de Rambures, and our artist's human figures, with their oval faces, drooping noses and eyes formed by black dots hanging down from single-stroke eyelids, are of that period.
The larger miniatures comprise: fol. 33r: the Annunciation to the Virgin, with small birds and a peacock in margin; fol. 117r: the Kiss of Judas, with flying birds in margin; fol. 126r: Pentecost, with small birds in margin; fol. 130r: Judgement Day, with birds in margin; fol. 174r: the owner kneeling before the Virgin and Child surrounded by angels, a peacock, a phoenix and arms supported by wildwomen in margin. The smaller miniatures comprise: (i) John writing his scroll; (ii) Luke writing; (iii) Matthew writing; (iv) Mark seated at his writing desk; (v) the Virgin and Child adored by angels; (vi) the Pietà; (vii) the Visitation of the Virgin to St. Anne; (viii) the Nativity; (ix) Annunciation to the Shepherds; (x) the Visitation of the Magi; (xi) the Presentation in the Temple; (xii) the Flight into Egypt; (xiii) the Virgin being crowned by God; (xiv) Christ before Pilate; (xv) Christ being nailed to the Cross; (xvi) the Raising of the Cross; (xvii) Golgotha; (xviii) the Deposition from the Cross; (xix) the Entombment of Christ; (xx) the Trinity; (xxi) the Scourging of Christ; (xxii) a Pope kneeling before an apparition of Christ; (xxiii) the Cross, with smalls birds and a peacock in border; (xxiv) St. John the Baptist; (xxv) St. Christopher; (xxvi) St. Sebastian; (xxvii) St. Michael.
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