Title: Book of Hours. Use of Rome, Circa 1470-1480. Illuminated Manuscript on Parchment from Belgium
Author: Flemish Artist, potentially that of the Zouche Hours
Condition: Very Good
A late 15th century illuminated manuscript Book of Hours, inscribed in a flowing gothic script, produced in Belgium. More specifically, possibly Bruges.
The style of illumination bears astonishingly close similarities to the Zouche Hours, originally produced in Bruges circa 1470-1480, for the use of Sarum, now held at the National Art Library. Compare their depiction of Christ with the one in this Book of Hours, noting the same stylized halo, as well as the same forked beard, facial structure, and beady eyes. Many of the initials are illuminated in similar fashion as well. While the artist of the Zouche Hours was not identified, specifics are noted, such as the miniatures being in a simple style designed for rapid execution. Tall haloes are in brushed gold with a black bordering gold line, and significant figures have clumsy square hats with ermine brims. All of these are traits shared between this Book of Hours, and the Zouche Hours.
This Book of Hours is written in a 21-line format.
This Book of Hours is illuminated throughout, with 11 illuminated divisional leaves containing large 4–5-line initials illuminated with gold leaf, decorated with illuminated borders with acanthus leaves, foliage, plants, flowers and small black dots accompanying those large initials. There are 2 full page miniatures, decorated with the same type of illuminated borders, and 8 5–6-line historiated initials, all of which are finely preserved and shining brightly. There are hundreds of 1-line illuminated initials on a red and blue background, as well as numerous 2–4-line illuminated initials on pink and blue backgrounds.
The miniatures and historiated initials are as followed: Leaf 3 has Saint John the Baptist, as well as Saints Peter and Paul, the verso of 3 is Saint Nicolas and the three children, leaf 4 is Saint Adrian, the verso of 4 is Mary Magdalene, as well as Marguerite coming from the Dragon, leaf 5 is Saint Catherine, the verso of 5 is Saint Barbara, the verso of leaf 23 is a full page miniature of the Flight into Egypt, and the verso of leaf 47 is a full page miniature of the Scene introducing the Office of the Dead.
This Book of Hours, is structed in the following form:
ff 1-2v contains extracts from the Hours of the Cross (lacunary)
3-5v contains the Suffrages to the Saints, including John the Baptist, Peter and Paul, Nicolas, Adrian, Mary Magdalene, Marguerite, Catherine, Barbe
6-30v contains the Hours of the Virgin, for the use of Rome, rubric, Incipiunt hore beate marie virginis secundum consuetudinem curie romane
31-35v contains Office of the Virgin for Advent
36-46v contains the Seven Penitential Psalms of Penance, followed by the Litanies, which are ff. 42-44. The following saints are noted: Saints Adrian, Sebastian, Georges, Rumoald, Lambert; saints Gudule, Gertrude
48-72v contains Office of the Dead, for the use of Rome, with the following chants: (1) Credo quod; (2) Qui Lazarum; (3) Domine quando; (4) Memento mei; (5) Um michi; (6) Do recorderis; (7) Peccantem me; (8) Domine secundum; (9) Libera me
This Book of Hours has been bound in a contemporary embossed brown calfskin binding of the late 15th century, decorated with blind-stamped plates. While the binding has been rubbed, three figures can be discerned, being Saint Catherine, with her sword visible, the Virgin and Infant Jesus between two angels, and an unidentifiable Saint, though possibly an icon of the Doctrine of the Two Swords. The figures are all separated by indecipherable lettering. There are more recent engraved brass clasps, depicting a shrouded cleric with hands clasped in prayer.
Quite a few leaves are lacking, especially if following the foliation left by a previous owner, and the fact that an old bibliographic notice glued to the front to the front of the first endpaper announced 103 leaves, with the absence of several of the large miniatures and the entire calendar keenly felt.
One blind-stamped leather-bound manuscript in octavo (20 x 13.5 cm), 72 leaves on parchment
This manuscript is in very good shape, with some rubbing to the binding, obscuring some of the tooled figures. There is some staining to the margins. The parchment of several leaves has stretched.