BOOK OF HOURS, Use of Rouen
Lot 97
BOOK OF HOURS, Use of Rouen
Sold for £38,400 (US$ 61,976) inc. premium

Lot Details
BOOK OF HOURS, Use of Rouen
Illuminated manuscript on vellum, in Latin (with some French), 183 x 124mm., 85 leaves (including ruled final blank), collation 16, 2-38, 46, 5-118, 126 (or possibly 8 with final 2 cancelled), complete, without signatures or catchwords, single column, 25 lines, ruled in red ink, justification 118 x 74mm., written in dark brown ink in a calligraphic lettre bâtarde, rubrics in red, Calendar in red, blue and gold, one-line initials and line-fillers in gold on red and blue grounds, 2-line initials with white leafy scrolls with additional red, blue and green flowers or jewels on liquid gold grounds, 3-line initials at major text openings in similar style, PANEL BORDERS THROUGHOUT in outer margins, with scrolling acanthus leaves, fruit and flowers in red, blue, green, pink, yellow and liquid gold, on parti-coloured backgrounds, TWENTY-FOUR CALENDAR MINIATURES in almost square compartments (42 x 47 mm.) at the head of each calendar page (two per page), these pages with borders on three sides with scrolling acanthus leaves, fruit and flowers in red, blue, green, pink, yellow and liquid gold, on parti-coloured backgrounds, THIRTEEN LARGE MINIATURES WITH FULL BORDERS (c.110 x 70mm.), the borders with birds, insects and the occasional beast within greyish acanthus leaves, coloured leaves and fruit on liquid gold grounds, some light show-through of pigment from the full borders to blank margins on following page, signs of careful use throughout with some occasional rubbing, minor flaking and smudging, the latter most pronounced in the outer border of the miniature of St John (7r), bound by Birdsall of Northampton in late nineteenth-century full panelled morocco, in 'medieval' style with gilt clasp fittings (one detached but present), g.e., yellowish vellum endpapers, rubbed at edges, [Rouen, c.1480-1500]

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE:

    (i) A young lay-woman, perhaps the book’s first owner, appears kneeling before the Virgin and Child on f. 75r.

    (ii) Indistinct ?sixteenth century pen-trials in French to verso of final blank, and two hasty later notes. The name "Bulard" appears in a ?seventeenth century hand to a few lower margins, e.g. 52v and 58r.

    TEXT AND DECORATION:

    (i) Calendar, 1r-6v, in French, including the names of St Romanus on 23 October in gold and the Translation of St Romanus on 17 June in blue, St Martial on 3 July in gold, each page with two adjacent miniatures (24 in all) of the appropriate monthly occupations (including feasting, pruning, reaping, treading grapes, grazing pigs etc) and the corresponding zodiacal symbol, placed at the head of each page.

    (ii) Gospel Sequences, 7r-10r, opening on 7r with a large illuminated miniature of St John on Patmos, the border including 2 additional small historiated miniatures depicting the remaining 3 evangelists.

    (iii) Prayers to the Virgin, 10r-14r comprising the Obsecro te (10r) and the O intemerata (12r). The remainder of that page blank.

    (iiii) A large (full-page) illuminated miniature of Adam and Eve (14v), naked, eating from the tree of knowledge, a beguiling serpent coiled around the trunk. Set in an orchard with 2 other fruit trees, a leafy ground below and a wicket fence behind, a hilly landscape with towers in the far distance, set in an architectural frame with two pillars on either side.

    (v) Hours of the Virgin, 15r-44r: Matins (15r) opening with large illuminated miniature of the Annunciation, the border including 2 additional small historiated miniatures depicting the Childhood of the Virgin (one a charming image of a child seated on an over-large arm chair); Lauds (19v) opening with large illuminated miniature of the Visitation, the border including 2 additional miniatures (the Agnus dei and the Baptism of Christ); Prime (26r) opening with large illuminated miniature of the Nativity, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures of angels singing from a scroll and of a funeral service; Terce (29v) opening with large illuminated miniature of the Annunciation to the Shepherds, with a woman spinning, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures of a Shepherd and Prayers to the Virgin and Child; Sext (32r) opening with large illuminated miniature of the Adoration of the Magi, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures of a man presenting a scroll to a king and 3 women presenting chalices to a king; Nones (34r) opening with large illuminated miniature of the Presentation in the Temple, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures with Presentation scenes; Vespers (36v) opening with large illuminated miniature of the Flight into Egypt, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures of an angel at prayer and a soldier in armour confronting a sower; Compline (40v) opening with large illuminated miniature of the Coronation of the Virgin, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures with Coronation scenes. Half of 44r and all 44v blank.

    (vi) Penitential Psalms, 45r-55r, opening on 45r with large illuminated miniature of David at Prayer, his part-cased harp at his feet, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures of Bathsheba bathing and David and Goliath, followed by a Litany (51r) including the names of the Rouen SS. Austrebert, Romanus, and Wandrille.

    (vii) Office of the Dead "Ad vesperas", 55v-74v, opening on 55v with large illuminated miniature of the Last Judgement, Christ in a fiery mandala with angels blowing trumpets, souls emerging from the ground, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures of death bringing down a traveller and a funeral service.

    (viii) Prayers for use at the Mass of the Virgin and elsewhere, 75r-84v, opening on 75r with large illuminated miniature of the Virgin and Child enthroned, a young lay-woman (the owner?) in a red dress and black headdress kneeling at their feet, the border with 2 additional small historiated miniatures of angels harping and fiddling; the additional prayer including one to St Romanus, the last leaf f. 85 blank but original.

    A compact but elegant example of a Book of Hours from the Rouen school associated with the workshop of the Master of the Echevinage of Rouen or Geneva Latini, the miniatures exhibiting many of the ubiquitous designs found in books from that source. It provides a very interesting comparison with the other Rouen Book of Hours offered here, probably dating from a couple of decades later and with some transitional elements associated with the later Rouen styles. The miniatures, while still following traditional patterns, are paler and perhaps more diffuse, while the borders display infilling with liquid gold to form a ground where previously they had been set against bare vellum. Smaller initials and line-fillers are less elaborate, with the use of liquid rather than burnished gold (but note the attractive, jewel-like 2-line initials).

    An unusual feature here is the miniature of Adam and Eve, an early addition in the later Rouen style within a 'classical' architectural border of liquid gold. This border style is associated with Rouen productions of the very end of the fifteenth century and early years of the sixteenth century. The appearance of Adam and Eve in the context of a Book of Hours such as this is unusual. The use of calendar miniatures is also considered an innovation in Rouen Hours of the very last decades of the century and provides an exceptionally attractive opening.
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