(Netherlands: ca. 1460). 90 x 63 mm. (3 1/2 x 2 1/2").  leaves, single column, 17 lines, in a gothic book hand. Contents: 1r: (blank); 1v: Calendar with two charts and two diagrams in Dutch and Latin; 17r: Various prayers to Christ and meditations on the Passion (including the prayer to the Holy Face of Christ and "O Bone Jesu"); 24r: Hours of the Passion; 45r: Hours of the Virgin; 97-99: (three blank leaves); 100r: Various prayers to the Virgin (including "O Intemerata" and "Obsecro te"); 124r: Hours of the Holy Spirit, with masses; 124r: Weekday Hours, with masses; 188r: Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany; 208r: Office of the Dead; 245r: Suffrages; 274r: Various prayers; 310v: Seven verses of Saint Bernard; 312: (blank); 313r: Reading from 2 John describing the Passion, followed by various prayers; 328r: Prayers(?) in an informal hand; 329r: Fifteen Paternosters in Dutch; 339r: A rubric in Dutch followed by prayers in Dutch.
Attractive 17th century dark brown morocco with extensive gilt tooling, covers and spine with a lacy circular motif surrounded by a halo of small flowers, all framed by floral borders and cornerpieces, original straps and brass clasps bearing a shell motif, all edges gilt with a painted (now faded) floral design. Rubrics in red, numerous one-line initials in red and blue, line-fillers in red and blue, "KL" of Kalends and numerous two-line initials gilt on blue and pink ground, many three-line initials and several larger initials (at major intervals) in combinations of red, blue, and gold, with floral decoration, 37 LEAVES WITH FULL FLORAL BORDERS of acanthus leaves, blossoms, gold dots, and vine-stem, and 19 HISTORIATED INITIALS (including one that is more of a half-page miniature). Leather with general minor wear, but the binding entirely sound and extremely pleasing. Borders with a little smudging and trimmed close at the fore edge (though the decoration grazed in just a few cases), vellum with light soiling here and there (more on the first and last few leaves), other quite minor signs of use, but THE CONTENTS VERY CLEAN OVERALL, AND THE HISTORIATED INITIALS WELL PRESERVED.
Because of its historiation on such a small scale and its large collection of accessory texts and prayers, this diminutive Book of Hours is of special interest because of its immense decorative charm and textual complexity. In addition to the Hours of the Virgin integral to every Book of Hours, this volume contains three other major prayer cycles: the Hours of the Passion, the Hours of the Holy Spirit, and the Weekday Hours. The last was a specialty of 15th century Flemish Books of Hours and, as here, was often accompanied by an image cycle. As noted by Wieck in "Time Sanctified," the accompanying images reflect the devotion of that particular day: Sunday Hours of the Holy Trinity, Monday Hours of the Dead, Tuesday Hours of the Holy Spirit, Wednesday Hours of All Saints, Thursday Hours of the Holy Sacrament, Friday Hours of the Cross, and the Saturday Hours of the Virgin. The other major cycle of images here belongs to the Hours of the Virgin, and depicts the usual event for each hour: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Annunciation to the Shepherds, Adoration of the Magi, Presentation in the Temple, Massacre of the Innocents, and the Flight into Egypt. The artist of these initials had very little space to work with, given the small dimensions of the page, but he met the challenge with considerable success; each initial displays a surprising amount of information about the figures and surroundings. The hand is practiced and confident, and the detail work quite clear. The figures make the most of the space they inhabit, and the overall impression is one of great delight and an unexpected degree of character. In addition to the formal cycles mentioned above, the present Book of Hours is further distinguished by an unusually large number of prayers, blessings, and readings, most of which give clues about how this particular book would have been used. Since a Book of Hours like this one would have been highly customizable, further study of these auxiliary texts could reveal much about the identity of the patron. (ST13806)
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PJP Catalog: RBMS18.001