Title: Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis. Illuminated Book of Hours, Italian Use (Likely Florence), Circa 1450-1475. Manuscript Written in a Humanist Script, With Six Large Illuminated Initials
Illuminator: Possibly Joachinus de Gigantibus de Rotenberg or Matteo Felice
Scribe: Likely Pietro Ursuleo da Capua
Condition: Very Good
A mid 15th century illuminated manuscript Book of Hours, inscribed in a flowing gothic script, produced in Italy, and likely in Florence, largely owing to the humanist script the manuscript is written in, and the particular style of illumination. The illuminator himself may have been Joachinus de Gigantibus de Rotenberg, of German descent, who was active from the 1440s to 1490s. The Book of Hours fragment numbered 1918.104.22.168 at the Reading Public Museum bears a sharp similarity in the style of illumination to the initials of two lines and larger. Alternatively, it could have also been illuminated by Matteo Felice, who was known for working on humanist manuscripts. Take for example Barb.lat.76, held in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
The script, including the blue and gold initials, bears heavy similarities to work of the scrivener and scribe Pietro Ursuleo da Capua. De Capua was bishop of Satarino and elevated on his deathbed to the archbishopric of Santa Severina. Similarities are noted with a large remnant of the Psalter with Passion Sequences, offered by Stephen Butler Rare Books & Manuscripts, to which this Book of Hours’ script and illumination both bears exceedingly sharp similarities to. Manuscript O.7.46 held at Trinity College, which is also by de Capua, shows a near identical match with the script as well as the vine work illumination.
With humanist Italian Books of Hours scarce on the market, this manuscript is an uncommon sight.
This Book of Hours is illuminated throughout, opening with a brightly illuminated calendar. There are six large 3-5 line illuminated initials, on a blue background flecked with red and green, decorated with flowing illuminated vine work and yellow reliefs. There are roughly 100 2-line illuminated initials against red and blue, and hundreds of smaller 1-line initials in gold or blue.
This Book of Hours is written in a 12-line format. This manuscript is structured into 15 quires of 8 leaves each.
About 5 leaves are clearly lacking, being the first folio of the first quire (which was likely an illuminated miniature or historiated initial), the fifth leaf of the 11th quire (again, likely a miniature or historiated initial, replaced by a blank paper insert), the second leaf of the 12th quire (same as before), and two leaves from the 15th and final quire, even though the text on the recto of the final leaf ends with "Et anime omnium fidelium defunctorum per mercyem Dei requiescant in pace". Or, when translated, “And by the mercy of God, may the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace”. The calendar is also lacking.
There are two ownership inscriptions, being a donation note in 1930 by Don Luigi Bruno, parish priest of Taviano in the province of Lecce to Father Edoardo Libri, and another note in 1939, by Father Edoardo to Monsignor Tommaso Saluti. There are also a few various annotations, and the incipit of the Book of Hours.
One illuminated manuscript in 12mo (16 x 11cm), (2)+115+(1) leaves on parchment
This manuscript is in very good shape, with minor rubbing and wear to the binding, with two very small wormholes to the spine. Some of the text in red in the Hours of the Virgin is legible, but somewhat faded. The text to the first and last leaf is somewhat faded. The gutters are exposed between two leaves. There is minor and scattered soiling, affecting a few leaves.