Ɵ Book of Hours, Use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on parchment [northern France (Paris), c. 1500]
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172 leaves (plus an added seventeenth-century frontispiece, and 2 paper endleaves at front and 3 at back), collation impracticable and with catchwords only for quires at end, but wanting single leaves after fols. 42, 145 and 161, 2 blank cancels at end, else complete, ruled in red ink for single column of 20 lines in several angular gothic bookhands much ornamented by hairline penstrokes, rubrics in red, capitals touched in yellow wash, one-line initials in liquid gold on blue or dark red grounds, with line-fillers in same, larger initials in coloured leafy designs on burnished gold grounds, panel borders on every page with coloured and gilt acanthus sprays, flowers, fruit, insects and some birds and grotesques (occasionally including bulbous green frogs), all on blank parchment and dull gold grounds arranged in patterns and shapes (including half fleur-de-lys), four small miniatures with three-quarter or full borders (the Virgin and Child enthroned; the Virgin and St. John the Evangelist; the Crucifixion; and the Pietà), thirteen large arch-topped miniatures, each set above a coloured initial and 4 lines of text and within full borders, some slight smudging and rubbing, a few chips to paint in places, upper and outer edges trimmed with slight affect to some borders there, else in good and bright condition, 149 by 105mm.; bound in mid-nineteenth-century English gilt-tooled red morocco, with "OFFICIUM B.V. MARIÆ M.S." gilt on spine, gilt edge, skilfully rebacked with spine laid on, in a fitted green cloth-covered case
1. Written and illuminated for the woman (perhaps a widow) who is shown dressed in black in the miniature on fol. 152v, kneeling before Christ, and perhaps again in the miniature on fol. 83r as she is struck down by Death. She was evidently a Parisian, and both SS. Geneviève and Denis are in red in the Calendar.
2. Presented to a patron whose Latinised name was Ludovicus Justus by the French master calligrapher and illustrator, Baptiste de Beaugrand (1572-1632: on him see Bradley, p. 108, where this very book is discussed): calligraphic inscription ("Ludovico Justo offerebat B. de Beaugrand") at foot of finely decorated seventeenth-century frontispiece; this leaf evidently the work of Beaugrand himself.
3. John Wilks II (1793-1846) of London and Mill Hill, Middlesex, attorney, entrepreneur, MP for Sudbury and bankrupt, whose collections were sold in Sotheby's, 12 March 1847, this lot 1688.
4. Messrs J. Pearson & Co. of 5 Pall Mall Place, London bookdealers; this sold in the liquidation sale of their stock at Sotheby's, 8 December 1924, lot 591. Then reappearing the next year in Sotheby's, 23 February 1925, lot 461.
5. Mrs Jesse H. Metcalf, and presented to the John Carter Brown Library, in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1947 (listed there by Faye and Bond, Supplement to the Census of Medieval and Renaissance MSS , 1962, p. 496, no. 44). Carter Brown sale in Sotheby's, 18 May 1981, lot 2.
7. Sotheby's, 18 June 1991, lot 152, and thence by descent.
The book comprises: a Calendar, in French (fol. 2r); the Gospel Sequences (fol. 14r); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol. 18r), Lauds (fol. 35r), Prime (fol. 43r), Terce (fol. 47r), Sext (fol. 50v), None (fol. 54r), Vespers (fol. 57v) and Compline (fol. 63r); the Penitential Psalms (fol. 67v) with a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol. 83r); the Hours of the Cross (fol. 119r); the Hours of the Holy Ghost (fol. 124r); ending with a long series of additional prayers in Latin and French (including among its rarer inclusions, the 'Verses of St. Bernard', prayers of St. Gregory with an offer of plenary indulgence attributed to Pope Alexander VI, a prayer described as having been brought from Constantinople to Charlemagne while he was hunting and protecting him in battle and claiming that its reader would be immune from arrows, lances, knives, daggers, swords or invisible implements, also giving safety to women in childbirth and victory to soldiers in wartime, and the Fifteen Oes attributed to St. Bridget of Sweden in French).
This manuscript is apparently from the same workshop as Waddesdon MS. 24, a Book of Hours signed by the scribe Nicholas Forget c . 1510 (see L.M.J. Delaissé et al., James A. Rothschild Collection ... Illuminated Manuscripts , 1977, pp. 516-39), with the composition of the miniature of the Visitation on fol. 35r showing striking parallels to that in the Waddesdon volume, and certain figures such as the Virgin and St. Anne having near-identical features.
The subjects of the larger miniatures are: fol. 18r, the Annunciation; fol. 35, the Visitation, with houses behind; fol. 47r, the annunciation to the Shepherds; fol. 50v, the Adoration of the Magi; fol. 54r, the Presentation in the Temple; fol. 57v, the Flight into Egypt; fol. 63r, the Coronation of the Virgin; fol. 67v, David in prayer; fol. 83r, Death as a skeletal figure thrusting a lance at a young women, while bodies lay strewn about; fol. 119r, the Crucifixion; fol. 141v, the Virgin and Child holding the Cross and standing on the crescent moon, all surrounded by a rosary; and fol. 143r, the Mass of St. Gregory.
J.W. Bradley, A Dictionary of Miniaturists , 1887, p. 108.
Bénédictins du Bouveret, Colophons de manuscrits occidentaux , 1965, I, no. 1541.