(Flanders, possibly Bruges: mid-15th century). 100 x 77 mm. (3 7/8 x 3").  leaves, COMPLETE, single column, 17 lines in a tiny gothic script. Contents: Calender (in a different hand, possibly replacing original but still 15th century) (f. 1r); Prayers beginning "Quindecim orationes" (f. 13r); Suffrages (f. 24r); Prayers to the Virgin (f. 37r); Hours of the Virgin (f. 46r); Penitential Psalms, Gradual Psalms, and Litany (f. 105r); Office of the Dead, Use of Sarum (f. 131r); Commendation of Souls (f. 164v); Psalms of the Passion (f. 182v); final page blank (f.190v).
Inoffensive 19th century(?) red velvet, smooth spine (an apparent early reback in matching cloth), vellum pastedowns and endpapers with ink-ruled border, all edges gilt. Rubrics in red, "KL" of Kalends gilt on blue and pink ground, numerous one-line initials in blue with red penwork or gilt with blue penwork, many two-line initials in gold on blue and pink ground with white tracery, 20 four- to five-line initials painted blue or pink on contrasting ground and framed in gold, WITH 20 MINIATURES framed with thin gold and painted bars and WITH FULL FLORAL BORDERS of blue and gold acanthus, orange flowers, thistles, blue-petalled flowers, strawberries, and gold bezants, facing pages with matching U-shaped bar frame and full floral border. Upper cover detached, velvet rather worn and edges frayed; top and fore margins of the borders slightly trimmed and some border details noticeably worn away from frequent thumbing; perhaps half the miniatures significantly rubbed, smudged, and/or with occasional loss of paint (but half surprisingly well preserved, even when their borders are not); one miniature (Jesus Carrying the Cross) with damaged margins and the leaf neatly inlaid without loss to the image; other minor defects, but the general text leaves pleasing and with vast margins, and the miniatures still retaining charm in spite of the condition issues.
Produced in Flanders for the English market, this petite Book of Hours contains a plenitude of miniatures. Most of the 20 miniatures here have been inserted as singletons, painted on the versos of single leaves that were then placed in their correct positions before the book was bound. This process allowed artists to work much more freely and quickly (not being dependent on the presence of the rest of the book to complete their paintings), and afforded greater opportunities for customization and export to other markets. This manuscript omits the usual Nativity cycle normally found with the Hours of the Virgin, and instead uses a program of images related to Christ and His passion, beginning with the Agony in the Garden (f. 46v), through the Crucifixion (f. 90r), and ending with the Entombment (f. 98v). In addition to these eight passion images (one for each hour), there are another four miniatures that feature Christ, six miniatures of saints (including Sts. George and Thomas of Canterbury, both of whom are strongly associated with England), and a traditional funeral scene for the Office of the Dead. The penultimate miniature depicts the Commendation of Souls (f. 164v), which, in a memorable portrayal, features two angels grasping a blanket occupied by a resurrected spirit, about to be tossed up to heaven. This uncommon image is very charming and most frequently appears in Books of Hours made for the English market. Though clearly destined for an English user, the present manuscript was probably produced in the city of Bruges by the so-called Masters of the Gold Scrolls (named for the decorative gilt scrolling tendrils in the backgrounds of many of their paintings), a large group of artists with widely varying levels of skill at work during the first half of the 15th century. The liturgical use of our Book of Hours is, again, tied to England, and the arrangement of the texts is also typically English: a set of Suffrages is placed at the beginning of the book, the Gradual Psalms appears between the Penitential Psalms and the Litany, and the Commendation of Souls and the Psalms of the Passion come after the Office of the Dead. The calendar appears to be a later addition (presumably as a replacement for the original calendar), although still reasonably placed within the late years of the 15th century. The condition of this prayer book indicates that it was used often, and the miniatures referred to frequently, and yet, atypically, there are no indications of who the previous owners may have been (no ownership signatures, no indications of family births, marriages, and so on). Because of these significant signs of use (whoever the users might have been), the manuscript represents an unusual opportunity to acquire a complete Book of Hours with an abundance of miniatures at a very low cost. (We are grateful to Dr. Consuelo Dutschke for her help with this manuscript.). (ST15198l)
Add to Cart Price: $17,500.00
PJP Catalog: 75.025