(Rouen: ca. 1470). 185 x 125 mm. (7 1/4 x 5").  leaves. COMPLETE. Single column, 15 lines in a fine gothic book hand. Contents: Calendar, in French (f. 1r); Gospel lessons (f. 13r); Obsecro te and O Intemerata (f. 18r); Hours of the Virgin, with Suffrages after Lauds to the Holy Spirit, Nicholas, Michael, Catherine, Barbara, and All Saints (f. 26r); Penitential Psalms (f. 68r); Litany (f. 80r); [blank] (f. 85); Hours of the Cross (f. 86r) and of the Holy Spirit (f. 89v); Office of the Dead (f. 93r); Fifteen Joys of the Virgin and Seven Requests, in French (f. 121r); [blank] (f. 129).
Pleasing 20th century calf in the style of the period, covers with triple blind rules enclosing a decorative floral frame, central panel diapered in blind, raised bands, compartments blind-ruled with a saltire. Ruled in red, rubrics in red, calendar with months, major feast days, and golden numbers in gold (other feast days in red or blue), line enders in pink, blue, and gold, numerous one- and two-line initials in gold on blue or pink ground with white penwork, major openings with three- or four-line initials painted blue or pink on gold ground and filled with ivy motifs, about half the leaves (those with a two-line initial) with vine-like panel border in the outer margin, SIX FULL-PAGE MINIATURES WITH FULL BORDERS: The Annunciation, the border with two roundels depicting The Temptation of Adam and Eve, and a Mermaid combing her hair while looking in a mirror (f. 26r); The Nativity (f. 50r); King David in Penitence (f. 68r); The Crucifixion (f. 86r); Funeral Service, with mourners (f. 93r); The Virgin and Child adored by a kneeling lady (f. 121r). Some leaves with catchwords in lower margins. Joints, extremities, and bands a bit rubbed, boards a little splayed, one quire slightly loose where a hinge is separating near the middle, but nevertheless a sturdy, inoffensive modern binding. Vellum a little wavy, thick borders at major openings just slightly cut into by binder and with occasional minor smudging, Annunciation and Nativity miniatures with a few instances of flaking to white paint (mostly skin and robes), f. 36 with possible water damage to lower margin, including some smudging to border and one line of text, other occasional minor defects, but in general a very clean and well-preserved manuscript, the colors and gold very bright and the margins mostly generous.
Complete, well preserved, and skillfully executed, this is a very pleasing example of the work of the highly esteemed workshop of the Maître de l'Echevinage, illuminated for a woman sympathetic to the mendicant orders and with a carefully selected program of miniatures displaying excellent craftsmanship. The so-called "Master of the Echevinage de Rouen" (also known as the "Master of the Geneva Latini") was an immensely popular and successful artist who took his name from several commissions he illuminated for the Echevinage (council of city aldermen) of Rouen. His compositions have recognizable features: his colors are bright; his draperies are highlighted with delicate strokes of liquid gold; his female figures (and angels) have oval faces on long necks and very pale skin, their hair often cascading over their shoulders; shadows are conveyed with a gray wash, especially in men’s faces; landscapes often have trees shaped like clumps of cotton-candy and dark blue skies dotted with a regular pattern of stars. The Crucifixion miniature here shows off this style to best effect, and is perhaps the most accomplished image in the entire manuscript. The composition and detail work is excellent, while the careful molding of Christ and the two thieves beautifully emphasizes the gauntness and delicacy of their bodies. The style of illumination seen here leaves no doubt that this book was produced at Rouen, while the final miniature reveals the image of a woman who was its first owner. The calendar confirms that she lived in Rouen and had identified spiritually with the mendicant orders. Among the saints associated with the city of Rouen here are: the translation of the relics of St. Anne (January 30), the translation of St. Ouen (May 5), the feast of St. Ursin and his translation (December 30, June 12), and the feast of St. Mellor (October 18). The mendicant saints here include: Thomas Aquinas (March 7), Dominic (August 5), and Francis (October 4). Other than the patron portrait, the Annunciation miniature provides another glimpse into the tastes of the original owner. In addition to the central image are two roundels in the border, one depicting Adam and Eve with a human-snake hybrid crawling up a tree, the other depicting a mermaid holding a mirror and comb--traditional symbols of pride and luxury. These roundel depictions of Original Sin and Vanity, themes historically associated with women, operate here as a kind of reminder or warning that would have been especially poignant to a female reader in the Middle Ages. This page happens to have a bit more soiling than the other miniatures, possibly indicating that it was referred to more often than the others. The presence of miniatures for Matins and Prime, but not for the other hours (Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline) in the Hours of the Virgin is unusual, but it is clear that no leaves are missing at these points, because the text is uninterrupted, and the openings of these hours occur mid-page. Nor are the miniatures singletons that were added in later--each contains text on the verso, indicating that they were included in the manuscript from the beginning. The overall production was clearly held to a rigorous standard: the decorative program shows a high degree of artistry and cohesion throughout, with a generous amount of detail lovingly applied, particularly to the large miniatures. And the state of preservation here is just as notable as the level of aesthetic achievement. (ST14639)
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PJP Catalog: RBMS19.002