Ɵ Book of Hours, Use of Besançon, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript codex on parchment [eastern France (probably Besançon), c. 1420-40]
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84 leaves, wanting single leaves and groups of leaves throughout, as well as gatherings from end, collation: i8 (wants i-iv), ii3 (wanting i, ii, iv and vi), iii8, iv7 (wants i), v6 (probably missing iv-v), vi8, vii5 (wanting iii, vi and viii), viii7 (wanting v), ix6 (wanting ii and vii), x7 (wanting viii), xi4 (wants entire second part of gathering), xii3 (wanting i-iii, vi-vii), xiii7 (wanting i), xiv5 (wanting 3 leaves at end), some catchwords remaining, single column of 13 lines of an excellent and professional gothic bookhand, Calendar entries in gold, blue and red, red rubrics, one-line initials in gold on pink and blue grounds, 2- to 3-line initials in blue or pink and containing foliage on gold grounds, line-fillers in same, three-quarter decorated borders on almost every leaf (with exception of only two pages) of thin gold and coloured bars puckered at their midpoints and often with coloured and gold 'bosses' at their heads and feet, these sprouting coloured acanthus leaves and rinceaux foliage terminating in coloured flower-heads and gold leaves and seed pods in delicate circular swirls at their extremities in bas-de-page, the leaves discoloured and stained at ends and extremities, a few small spots and scuffs, else most of volume in presentable condition, 175 by 128mm.; original sewing structures present, but boards missing for some considerable time; the whole in a custom-made box
1. This charming little volume was almost certainly made in Besançon, eastern central France, in the second or third decade of the fifteenth century. It was identified for Roger Martin by his friend Eriks Drigsdahl as of the uncommon use of Besançon, and includes the definitive capitulum , 'Sicut cinnamomum et ...' at Compline. The saints in the Calendar consolidate this impression, with SS. Ferreolus and Ferrucius of Besançon on 30 May, 16 June, 5 and 18 September (the last in gold), and a long list of bishops of the town, including Bishop Claudius on 6 June, Bishop Autidus on 17 June, Bishop Desideratus on 27 July, and Bishop Donatus on 7 August. In addition, the dedication on 5 May for St. John is in gold and this is the saint to whom the cathedral in Besançon was dedicated.
2. Bukowski's Auctions, Stockholm, Sweden, 8 May 2018, no. 1017486; acquired there by Roger Martin.
While many leaves have been lost from this volume, this remains a good and appealing example of a lavishly decorated Book of Hours made outside the dominant book-production hub of Paris in the decades before the output of such volumes reached industrial levels. The volume comprises: fol. 1r, a Calendar beginning in May; fol. 9r, Gospel Sequences, wanting openings of Luke, Matthew and Mark; fol. 11v, prayers to the Virgin, with parts of the Obsecro te , O intemerata , Gaude virgo mater and Omnipotens sempiterne dominus ; the Hours of the Virgin, with fol. 20r, Matins, fol. 31r, Lauds, fol. 43r, Prime, fol. 46r, Terce, fol. 50r, Sext, fol. 54r, Nones, fol. 58r, Vespers and fol. 70r, Vespers (all wanting openings); fol. 70r, prayers in French including the Seven Requests to Our Lord and the Sainte uraie crois ; fol. 73r, Penitential Psalms (opening in Psalm 6:7, ending in 142:8).