[ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT - 15TH CENTURY.]
EARLY FIFTEENTH CENTURY BOOK OF HOURS.
[Horae B. M. V.], Use of Paris. Illuminated Latin and French manuscript on vellum. [Paris, c.1400-10]. 113 leaves. (4 originally blank), plus 4 added preliminaries. 8vo (166 x 114 mm). Lacking single leaves after fols.21 and 107, else complete, 2 further blanks cancelled at end, with horizontal catchwords, 15 lines, ruled in red ink, written in dark brown ink in a gothic liturgical hand, rubrics in red, Calendar in alternate lines of red and blue with major entries in burnished gold, capitals touched in yellow, line-fillers and one- and 2-line initials throughout in burnished gold on red and blue grounds with white tracery, a few larger initials similar, NINE LARGE MINIATURES in square compartments above large illuminated initials and within full borders of colored and burnished gold ivyleaves. Late sixteenth-century northern European vellum gilt over pasteboards, sides framed with double lines, floral corner-pieces, oval central plaques on each cover showing the Virgin and Child on a crescent moon within the legend 'ora. pro. nobis. santa. Maria,' in a brown morocco case. Late medieval additions on preliminaries and ff. 17v-21v, some upper and outer extremities of borders slightly cropped, some illumination rubbed and smudged including border on f. 43 and initial on f. 78v, a few wormholes at end, offsets from pilgrim badges once on f. l, many pages thumbed and used, lacking 2 pairs of ties, rebacked with calf binding a bit battered, else good.
(1) Perhaps made for Jean de Croy (d.1415, killed at the Battle of Agincourt), counselor and chamberlain to Philippe le Hardi and Jeans sans Peur, dukes of Burgundy.
(2) Probably his grandson, Jean de Croy, comte de Roeux, son of Antoine de Croy [d.1475], grand maitre de France in 1462, with the fifteenth century motto added on fol.84v, "v[ost]re a james tent qu'il durra - J de croy."
(3) Probably by descent to his great-great-great granddaughter, Catherine Franoise Isabelle Marie de Croy, who in 1676 married Prince Walrand of Nassau, and to their descendants; the flyleaf is inscribed in a hand probably of the early eighteenth century Le princess de Nassau.
(4) Sothebys London, November 29, 1990, lot 134.
A Calendar, in French (fol.1r), with an early addition of St. Hilevertus, bishop of Meaux; the Gospel Sequences (fol.13r); the Hours of the Virgin [Use of Paris], with Matins (fol.22r), Lauds (fol.43r), Prime (fol.54r), Terce (fol.59v), Sext (fol.64r), None (fol.68r), Vespers (fol.72r) and Compline (fol.78v); the Penitential Psalms (fol.85r) and Litany; a: prayer to the boy-martyr St.Agapitus (fol.i); a prayer to Christ in French (fol.ii); prayers to SS.Cosmas and Damian (f.iv verve); prayers to the Virgin in French and Latin (fol.17v, including one intended for use by a woman "michi indigne peccatrici"); and prayers to St.Barbara (fol.83v).
This attractive book of hours is a scarce survivor from this first decade of the great century of book illumination in France. The nine miniatures are in the style of the Master of the Coronation of the Virgin, who was probably a Netherlandish artist who arrived in Paris about 1400 and either died or disappeared in about 1405. During its short period of activity, however, the workshop produced a number of important manuscripts including a Book of Hours dated 1402 in the Morgan Library (M.515), and a whole series of manuscripts made for or in the circle of Philippe le Hardi (d.1404), Duke of Burgundy. The link may be important, for Jean de Croy who may have commissioned the present book was himself a member of the Duke's household. Other manuscripts from this workshop include at least three from the Burgundian ducal library (now in the national collections of St.Petersburg, Paris and Brussels) and one which Philippe le Hardi gave to his brother, the Duc de Berry, as a New Year's present in 1403 (cf. M. Meiss, The Limbourgs and their Contemporaries, 1974, pp.383-4). The miniatures are:
Folio 43r. The Visitation, in semi-grisaille.
Folio 54r. The Nativity of Christ, a midwife leaning over a fence.
Folio 59v. The Annunciation to the Shepherds.
Folio 64r. The Adoration of the Magi.
Folio G8r. The Presentation in the Temple.
Folio 72r. The Flight into Egypt.
Folio 78v. The Coronation of the Virgi.
Folio 85r. God the Father enthroned.
Folio 102r. The Crucifixion, between the Virgin and St.John the Evangelist.