Illuminated manuscript on vellum, Book of Hours in Latin, Use of Paris [Paris, first quarter of the fifteenth century].
142 leaves, 188 x 139 mm. A12 B-Q8 R6 (lacking B8-C3), plus 2 blanks at front, 1 at rear. 15 lines per page. With 7 MINIATURES, plus 10 4-line decorated initials with liquid gold, red and blue, each page with miniatures and/or a 4-line initial also with bar borders and foliage in all margins (all other pages with foliage to the right-hand margins), 2- and single line initials, line fillers in red, blue, white and gold throughout. Late 16th century Parisian morocco gilt.
Text: ff1-12 Calendar (including saints' days for Geneviève, Typhaine, Nois, Eloy, Estev[r]e, Leu, Gilles and Denis); 13 Hours of the Virgin: (13 [Matins]; 25 [Lauds]; 36 "Prime" 41v Terce; 45 Sext, but mis-titled "Prime"; 49 None; 52v Vespers; 59 Compline); 65 The Penitential Psalms; 77v The Litany; 83 The Hours of the Cross; 91 The Hours of the Holy Spirit; 98 The Office of the Dead.
4 leaves from the text (B8, C1, C2 and C3) have been excised towards the end of Matins in the Hours of the Virgin, containing the seven lessons associated with Matins, but probably no miniature. Early deletion to parts of the text on leaves to either side of this lacuna (i.e. B7v and C4 ) containing the beginning of the first lesson ("Surge beatissimo virgo...") suggests this neat and deliberate removal was made at an early date, perhaps at the time of the sixteenth-century binding.
Miniatures: 7 painted miniatures (all in arch-topped compartments approx. 85 × 65 mm, except one):
f 13 The Annunciation (slight flaking to chequered background);
f 36 (an extended 4-line initial D opening Prime, 42 x 35 mm) The Adoration;
f 59 The Coronation of the Virgin;
f 65 King David;
f 83 The Crucifixion;
f 91 Pentecost;
f 98 A Funeral.
Binding: Late 16th century Parisian morocco, central wreath of branchages surrounded by a background semé with miniature fleurs-de-lys, the corners with various monograms within branchages (interlaced inverted Ms and As, interlaced phi, star-of-David), the whole enclosed by a border of repeated flower, thistle, fleur-de-lys and bunch-of-grapes devices, each within their own oval wreath, spine with 5 raised bands semé like the covers.
There are several possible collectors who can be linked to this binding. A pencil inscription on the front free endpaper suggests Marguerite d'Angoulême (1492-1549), Duchesse de Berry and wife of Henry II, presumably based on the M and A monograms. The interlocking phi monogram has been linked to the poet Phillipe Desportes (1546-1606), as in the Abbey item referenced below, although Guigard notes that Desportes' phi marks are adjacent and that interlaced phi represent François Fouquet (Nouvel armorial du bibliophile, vol 2, p 179).
For near-identical or identical examples of this central wreath, see: Hobson Reliures à la fanfare, pl.31 (a binding executed for Marguerite Valois that also features a star-of-David motif); lot 302 in the Abbey sale, June 22, 1965 (binding "for Philippe Desportes" but with the interlaced phi monogram as here); BL Davis 446 (attributed to the Eve Bindery).
Provenance: SIR EDWARD BURNE-JONES, 1833-1898 (inscription to initial blank "E. Burne-Jones / London 1884" (and faint pencil inscription, also "Burne-Jones"), his bookplate from the Grange, North End Road, Fulham to front pastedown); Sotheby's, May 28, 1919, "Valuable printed books and illuminated and other manuscripts comprising the property of W.E. Thornton," lot 835, £250. Schoenberg 23948.
A FINE PARISIAN BOOK OF HOURS FROM THE LIBRARY OF EDWARD BURNE-JONES, with illumination typical of the numerous workshops flourishing in the city in the first decades of the fifteenth century. The 7 miniatures are excellent examples of the prevalent style with a bright palette, rich starry skies and diapered backgrounds of contrasting red, blue and liquid gold.
Burne-Jones's re-interpretation of medieval themes and compositions drawn from medieval illuminated manuscripts such as this is absolutely central to his work and that of the British Pre-Raphaelites, from large panel paintings, tapestries, furniture designs and (most obviously) the miniatures conceived for books like the Kelmscott Chaucer (1896).