Title: Book of Hours, circa 1440, Northern France
A mid 15th century illuminated Book of Hours, inscribed in a flowing gothic script, likely produced in Northern France. There are several factors which point to this conclusion, starting with the saints venerated in the calendar, such as Saint Lupien, Gabinus, and Aubin. The style of illumination, namely to the backgrounds of the miniatures also leads credence to this possibility, as does the iconography of the depiction of monks and the unique stigmata presentation of Christ. The thorny border designs are also reminiscent of other Books of Hours from Northern France. This Book of Hours is printed in a 14-line format.
This Book of Hours is illuminated throughout, with 7 large initials illuminated with gold leaf, accompanied by illuminated four-part thorn leaf tendril borders of flowering designs accompanying those large initials. The leaves are 32, 42, 48, 52, 56, 60, and 66. There are also 7 three-quarter page miniatures, each with a large illuminated initial and borders. The miniatures are painted against a lavish background with a blue-red-gold checker pattern, or an azure blue brocade carpet pattern. There are hundreds of 1-2-line illuminated initials and line fillers on a red and blue background.
The miniatures are as followed: Leaf 21 is The Annunciation, the verso of 90 is The Crucifixion, 94 is The Pentecost Miracle, the verso of 97 is The Virgin and Child Enthroned, the verso of 103 is The Last Judgement (this miniature appears to depict a white haired and bearded God rather than Jesus Christ), leaf 107 depicts three monks with a lectern. Lastly, leaf 73 is a display of the Four Evangelicals, but where an enthroned Jesus would sit holding the Globus cruciger, it instead appears to be Mary herself, which is uncommon.
This Book of Hours, with a complete calendar, is structed in the following form:
ff 1 features a compass of the Holy Trinity, displaying “Pater - Filius - Spiritus Sanctus”, with the words “non est” in between each other. On the verso is another compass of sorts, with the names of the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and Joseph, all running to the center.
ff 3-5 is the beginning of the Gospel of John, starting with the words "Initium sancti evangelii secundum Johannem ..." and “In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum” (In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and God was the word). Uniquely, the leaf bears the outline of an initial yet to be illuminated.
ff 6-7 is the Athanasian Creed, beginning with “Quicumque vult salvus…”. These leaves appear to be from an older manuscript, written in an entirely different script and utilizing red initials.
ff 9-20 is the calendar, complete with the list of saints, and large illuminated initials at the beginning of each month
ff 21-138 are the Hourly Prayers, the Seven Penitential Psalms, and the Marian Prayers.
One vellum bound manuscript in 12mo, 138 leaves on parchmemnt + 4 blank leaves
On note of condition, this manuscript is in good shape, with rubbing and wear to the binding, and significant cracks to the hinges, though holding. The binding is splayed. There is some staining throughout, with marks where previous owners thumbed through the pages, though many leaves seem relatively fresh. Several initials and decorations are partially rubbed away or worn down, with similar rubbing and wear to the miniatures, with the miniature of the Four Evangelicals and Mary flaking, along with the border. There is some discoloration from usage throughout and rubbing to some leaves. Judging by the excision points, several leaves are lacking.