(Bruges, ca. 1430-40). 196 x 145 mm. (7 3/4 x 5 3/4"). 142 leaves (textually complete, but see below), single column, 21 lines, in a fine gothic book hand. Contents: Calendar (f. 1r); Suffrages, including John the Baptist (without miniature), Thomas of Canterbury, Christopher, Mary Magdalene, Catherine of Alexandria, Margaret (without miniature), Barbara (without miniature); prayer to Christ (no image except in lower margin of recto, a small seated figure under a banderole, and holding a ribbon, “Domine Ihesu”), "Oratio Devota ad Christum . . .," 15 Prayers of Saint Bridget (f. 7r); Hours of the Virgin, Sarum Use as shown by the antiphons and capitula at Prime and at None (short Hours of the Holy Cross worked in) (f. 34r); Four prayers to the Virgin (f. 62r); four prayers and indulgences (f. 72r); Penitential Psalms and Litany (f. 84r); Office of the Dead (f. 99r); Commendation of Souls (f. 117r); other prayers (f. 128r-142v).
Dark brown crushed morocco by Sangorski & Sutcliffe (signed on front turn-in), gilt ruled turn-ins, raised bands, with gilt lettering on spine.
Capitals struck with red, rubrics in red, numerous one-line initials either gilt with blue penwork or blue with red penwork, many two-line initials in gold on a blue or pink ground with hairline vines ending in flowers and leaves extending into the margins, and WITH 19 NEARLY FULL-PAGE MINIATURES WITHIN FULL, LUSH RINCEAU BORDERS, the facing page always featuring a handsome six-line initial in gold and colors and a similarly elaborate three-quarter border, seven of these borders containing human inhabitation and one containing a hybrid creature (six additional pages with the large initial and three-quarter border but with no facing miniature). Front pastedown with the armorial bookplate of Crewe Hall. Bottom portion of one of the miniatures with a (barely noticeable) later (17th century?) ownership inscription. A few leaves with a little light soiling or wrinkling, gilding with touches of rubbing (but still quite bright and often glittering), some occasional smudging and rubbing within the borders, the green coloring a bit faded, some minor damage to seven or eight of the miniatures, sometimes with loss of detail in faces (Christ before Pilate somewhat more damaged), but the majority of the scenes without any significant defects beyond the typical fading or erosion of blue paint, and the damage entirely forgivable, especially in light of how richly painted and generally pleasing the miniatures are. The binding in fine condition.
This is a dramatic, colorful, almost irresistibly lively Book of Hours with much to offer. Although not without flaws, the volume has very great appeal because of its English Use, the charm and skill and spirited rendering of its substantial number of miniatures, its unusually wide and clean margins, the richness of its coloring, and its very size. Made in Flanders, probably Bruges (or possibly in Ghent), for exportation to England during the middle years of the 15th century, Books of Hours like the present one are recognizable by the inserted full-page miniatures painted on the verso of singletons (the rectos remaining blank). Here, the added leaves are slightly smaller than those of the book itself, and the border decoration does not precisely match that of the main book. (For books of this type, see: Edmund Colledge, "South Netherlands Books of Hours Made for England," in "Scriptorium" 32, pp. 55-57.) Our painter is identifiable as a member of the Gold Scrolls Group, active artists whose work is widely known and respected. The 19 miniatures here include: Thomas of Canterbury (f. 8v), Christopher (f. 10v), Mary Magdalene (f. 12v), Catherine of Alexandria (f. 14v), Gethsemane (f. 24v), Betrayal of Judas (f. 30v), Christ Before Pilate (f. 41v), Flagellation (f. 45v), Road to Calvary (f. 48v), Crucifixion (f. 51v), Descent from the Cross (f. 54v), Entombment (f. 57v), Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (f. 63v), Annunciation (f. 72v), Pentecost (f. 79v), Last Judgment (f. 84v), Funeral (f. 99v), Commendation of Souls (f. 117v), and Jerome working (f. 133v). At least three full-page miniatures seem to be missing: those that opened the suffrages for John the Baptist, Margaret, and Barbara (see above). Since there are also three other elaborately decorated pages that do not have facing miniatures, it is possible that three more are lacking. The manuscript has distinctively English characteristics. The Calendar and Litany have a number of English saints (Hugh of Lincoln as well as his translation, for example), and the first miniature we see is the slaying of Thomas Becket, the archetypical image of English martyrdom. (Assuming that our manuscript was purchased by an English client and was still in England a century later, the fact that the Becket miniature remains suggests that the present volume was owned by Catholics who did not follow the directives of Henry VIII in 1538 that attempted to dismantle and expunge all things relating to the "idolatry" of the Church of Rome.) Aesthetically, the miniatures make a powerful impression in the intelligence of their design, the skill of their execution, and even their size (they are easily the largest miniatures among the complete manuscripts in this catalogue). Our scenes, which measure approximately 123 x 88 mm., occupy nearly double the area seen in most French Books of Hours, where the miniatures are not inserted, but are instead accompanied by text, which necessarily inhibits the size of the visual content of the page. The choice of color is also part of the potency of the images, since our painter has found a way to use bright orange in every single miniature, even those depicting the most serious subjects. The result of all this is that, one after another, the paintings seem to seize our attention and encourage us to prolong contemplation of their image and significance. Size and color are not the entire story, though, as we can see by considering the penultimate miniature, The Commendation of Souls, which, in a memorable portrayal, features two angels grasping a blanket occupied by a resurrected spirit, about to be tossed up to heaven. This rarely seen image (which most frequently appears in Books of Hours made for the English market) could scarcely be more charming. (ST13148)
Add to Cart Price: $85,000.00
PJP Catalog: 70.483