BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome [North Eastern Italy, final quarter of the fifteenth century]
Lot 98
BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome
Sold for £ 44,400 (US$ 58,995) inc. premium

Lot Details
BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome [North Eastern Italy, final quarter of the fifteenth century] BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome [North Eastern Italy, final quarter of the fifteenth century]
BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome
Illuminated manuscript on vellum, in Latin (with some Italian), 262 leaves (including original fly leaves), though '261' given in pencil foliation (due to one leaf missed, but followed here), apparently wanting one leaf (probably with a miniature), after f. 87, collation 12, 2-810, 99 (wants 6), 10-1410, 1511 (5 a singleton), 1610, 17-1812, 19-2410, 25-268, catchwords in most cases, 14 lines in black ink in a rounded gothic bookhand, justification 81 x 64mm., rubrics in red, one-and two line initials in red, blue or gold, with contrasting flourishes, the decoration of the latter extending into margins forming partial calligraphic borders, 17 LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS (usually of 6 lines) in blue, red, pink and green, with white highlights, on grounds of burnished gold, usually extended with bar borders in the left-hand margins and scrolling floral borders in the upper and lower margins, 4 LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS (7 lines) similarly illuminated and accompanied by full borders of scrolling flowers, birds and butterflies, 14 FULL-PAGE AND 3 HALF-PAGE MINIATURES (subjects described below), waterstain to portion of upper margins throughout, dark in places and affecting borders (but not the miniatures) in some cases, resulting in some oxidation and minor flaking, occasional minor flaking to miniatures, arms effaced in two cases (see below), text occasionally rubbed, but generally clear, margins trimmed at head, just touching borders in a few instances, that on 190v with slightly more loss (though still minimal), bound in full eighteenth century tan goatskin, elaborate gilt borders to sides enclosing the monogram 'MA' with coronet, g.e., rebacked to style (nineteenth century), with endpapers replaced, preserved in a nineteenth century fitted tree calf box, 160 x 120mm., [North Eastern Italy, final quarter of the fifteenth century]



    (i) Written and illuminated in North Eastern Italy, for a woman named Lucretia. A nineteenth century bookseller's note tipped in at the front reads "said to have been framed for the use of Lucretia Borgia Duchess of Ferrara", but unsubstantiated.

    (ii) The binding bears the monogram "MA" and coronet, which the bookseller’s note (see above) suggests to be Marie Antoinette, "the last possessor", again unsubstantiated.

    (iii) nineteenth century bookseller's note (see above) in English.


    (i) The Hours of the Virgin, Use of Rome "secundum ordinem romane curie" with succeeding variants, ff. 3r-69r: Matins 3r preceded on 2v by large miniature (85 x 64mm.) of the Annunciation with the Virgin and Angel kneeling before a stone loggia and followed on the facing page 3r with an 8-line historiated initial of the Virgin and Child, both pages within full borders with rich use of burnished gold, roundels showing God and two Evangelists (plus 2 at foot with effaced arms) and putti; Lauds 13v preceded on 13r a large miniature of the Visitation (74 x 58mm.) within a full border with gold bezants, Prime 25r preceded by a miniature of the Nativity (51 x 58mm.) on 24v below final lines of the text of Lauds; Terce 30r preceded on 29v by a miniature of the Presentation (62 x 44mm.) within a full border with gold bezants; Sext 34v preceded on 34r by a large miniature of the Flight into Egypt (68 x 59mm.) within full border; Nones 38v preceded on 38r by a large miniature of the Adoration of the Magi (73 x 50mm.); Vespers 42v preceded on 42r by a large miniature of the Betrothal of the Virgin (67 x 56mm.); Compline 49v preceded on 49r by a large miniature of the Virgin (74 x 52mm.); 53v-69r variants.

    (ii) The Penitential Psalms, 70r-87v preceded by a large miniature of David (78 x 56mm.) kneeling before a rocky landscape and followed on the facing page by an 8-line initial of David with a stringed psaltery, both pages within full borders with gold bezants, an urn and a butterfly, followed by a Litany (79r) and additional prayers, this section wanting a leaf at end, on whose verso would presumably have appeared a large miniature (a death-bed scene or skeleton?) for the succeeding part.

    (iii) The Office of the Dead, 88r-126r, with Vespers on 88r opened by a 7-line initial of a cadaver on a black ground with gold tracery, within a full border, with roundel, birds and butterflies on a rich ground of burnished gold.

    (iv) Hours of the Holy Ghost, 127r-144r preceded on 126v by a large miniature of Pentecost (85 x 54mm.) and followed on the facing page 127r by a 7-line initial of the Pentecostal Dove, both pages with full borders with roundel (containing unidentified arms incorporating a red label or lambel) and birds and butterflies.

    (v) Hours of the Cross, 146r-163v preceded on 145v by a large miniature of the Crucifixion (75 x 55mm.) and followed on 146r by a 7-line initial of the Entombment, both pages with full borders with burnished gold.

    (vi) Short Hours of the Cross, 164r-168r preceded on 163v by a miniature of the Resurrection (54 x 62mm.) with full border.

    (vii) Prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua 169r-169v, preceded on 168v by a large miniature of Saint Anthony (70 x 52mm.) holding a book and lily.

    (viii) Mass of the Virgin, prayers and readings, 170r-173v, preceded on 169v by a miniature of the Virgin suckling the Child (47 x 54mm.).

    (ix) Gospel sequences, 175r-184r with four large miniatures (74 x 50mm.) of St John 174v, St Matthew 176v, St Mark 179v and St Luke 182r, all within full borders.

    (x) Prayers to the Saints 185r-191r with seven large miniatures of St Francis (74 x 55mm.) 184v, St Jerome (48 x 56mm.) 185v, St Peter (76 x 56mm.) 186v, St Catherine (68 x 56mm.) 187v, St Vincent (68 x 55mm.) 188v, St Nicholas of Tolentino (79 x 60mm.) 189v, St Leonard (65 x 64mm.) 190v.

    (xi) Additional prayers 191v-249v in Latin and Italian, including several including the name Lucretia (194r, 199v, 200r).

    (xii) 249r-260v Calendar.

    A fully-illuminated and ingeniously conceived Italian Book of Hours. This was clearly a costly production, notable for its extensive use of burnished gold in its borders and miniature backgrounds. The miniatures are predominantly by one unidentified but highly individual artist, save for two (168v. Anthony of Padua and 169v. the Virgin suckling the Child) which use a notably different palette of softer colours. A cropped and barely-visible contemporary note to the foot of the first of these two leaves is probably an instruction to that artist to fill in gaps left for him. For whom the manuscript was made and precisely where is enigmatic, since the arms on ff. 1v and 2r are so indistinct, but the appearance of the name Lucrezia among the prayers is a likely indicator of her Christian name are least. Neither the Calendar nor the Litany provide obvious examples of saints associated with particular cities of regions. The likely origin is one of the cities of North Eastern Italy, perhaps Ferrara, Bologna, Verona, or Padua. The prominence of a prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua (f.169r) may well be a clue to origins.

    Italian Books of Hours of such elaboration are rare, the form never having achieved such currency in Italy as in countries north of the Alps. Many of the surviving examples are sparsely illuminated, being made for less well-off patrons or members of the clergy. Only rarely do examples bear such rich illumination as this manuscript.
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