Book of Hours, Use of Noyon, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum
(1) With a contemporary rhyming ownership inscription in French, naming Jeanne, daughter of Jean Cinot, and pleading for the return of the book if lost, as 'Car sans heures ne puys dien prier' ('without these hours she cannot say her prayers'). They were evidently from Picardy, probably Noyon. The style of the illumination suggests that this manuscript was produced in Amiens. The text is for a patron in Picardy, most probably one in Noyon: the Use conforms to those known elsewhere from Noyon, and the Litany includes St. Medard, who translated his see to Noyon from Vermand in 531. Books of Hours produced for the Use of Noyon are extremely rare, and this manuscript is of note for that reason alone.
(2) ‘Madelaine camuce’ (or ‘Magdaleine le camus’), ownership inscriptions dated 1615 and 1657 on flyleaves.
(3) Jean Marie Paque of Boulogne, inscription in a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century hand on a flyleaf.
A Calendar (fol. 1), in Latin; the Gospel Sequences (fol.14r); Passion sequence (fol.19r); Obsecro te (fol.27v) for male use; O intemerata (fol.30r); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol.33r), Lauds (39v), Prime (fol.46v), Terce (fol.50v), Sext (fol.55r), None (fol.55v), Vespers (fol.58r), Compline (fol.63r); Penitential Psalms (fol.66v) and Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol.83r); prayers to Christ (fol.116r), prayers of Pope Leo (fol.117r), with rubric in French, the Seven Spiritual Joys of the Virgin (fol. 117v), with rubric in French, prayer to the five feasts of the Virgin (fol. 119r) with rubric in French, the contemplations of the Virgin on the subject of the cross (fol.122r), with rubric in French.
The illumination of this manuscript is by two distinct artists. The first, who painted the miniatures on fols.14v and 19r, is characterised by the rotund, oval shaped faces with pale blue skin tones which he gives his figures, and his method of building texture with numerous single-hair brush strokes. The borders which accompany these are in the same style, and the initials are identical to the 9-line initials in the main text at fols. 15v, 16v, 18r, 116r, 117r, 118r, 119v, 122v. The second artist, who painted the miniatures on fols.33r, 40r, 47r, 50v, 53r, 59v, 66v and 83r, appears to have been more accomplished. He is more skilled in his approach to detail, in particular the faces of his figures, the drapery, and the backgrounds, and used a different technique of building texture, through a few wide brush strokes of grey to pick out shadows. He is probably also the artist of the miniatures for the Passion sequence and the initials of the Prayers for the Virgin and the other texts at end of volume. The initials which accompany his miniatures strongly suggest that he was active in Amiens.
The subjects of the miniatures are:
1. Folio 14v, St. John the Evangelist, 73mm. by 61mm., arch-topped miniature, St. John seated on a grassy ground writing his Gospel, with hills, mountains and a town in the background; large initial and full border including insects.
2. Folio 19r, The Agony in the Garden, 73mm. by 61mm., arch-topped miniature, Christ kneeling before a chalice in the garden of Gethsemane, with three sleeping disciples, on a grassy ground, with fields and trees in background; large initial and full border with fruit, a bird and a rabbit.
3. Folio 33r, The Annunciation, 90mm. by 64mm., arch-topped miniature, the Virgin seated in a covered canopied chair before an angel, whose sceptre draws down a ray of light (in liquid gold) towards her; large initial and full border including a peacock and a four-legged drollery creature with a jester’s head.
4. Folio 40r, The Visitation of St. Elizabeth to the Virgin, 61mm. by 86mm., arch-topped miniature, St. Elizabeth with two attendant angels standing before the Virgin on a grassy ground with hills, buildings and a town in the background; large initial and full border including a bird and a two-legged drollery creature.
5. Folio 47r, The Nativity, 63mm. by 83mm., arch-topped miniature, the Virgin and Joseph kneel in prayer either side of the Holy Child, before a stable surrounded by wattle-fence, with Bethlehem in the background; with large initial and full border.
6. Folio 50v, The Annunciation to the Shepherds, 70mm. by 61mm., arch-topped miniature, three shepherds in a hilly landscape, Bethlehem in the background, an angel in the sky with a banderole “Gloria in excelsis deo et”; large initial and full border including a monkey and a two-legged drollery creature.
7. Folio 53r, Adoration of the Magi, 63mm. by 80mm., arch-topped miniature, three kings richly dressed in silks and ermine (two with crowns on heads, one kneeling with crown before him), present gifts to the Virgin and Child, seated in a covered bower, with hills and Bethlehem in background; large initial and full border with a bird and a dog.
8. Folio 59v, The Flight into Egypt, 75mm. by 61mm., arch-topped miniature, Joseph leading a donkey carrying the Virgin and Child, a town in the background; large initial and full border with a bird.
9. Folio 66v, David in prayer, 85mm. by 62mm., arch-topped miniature, David in rich robes kneeling before a bower, his harp in front of him, God looking down from the sky, hills and buildings in the background; large initial and full border including a bird and a snail.
10. Folio 83r, The Raising of Lazarus, 75mm. by 61mm., arch-topped miniature, Christ with the disciples standing before an open grave, with hand in benediction, Lazarus, wearing a shroud, climbing from his grave before shocked onlookers, hills and a town in background; large initial and full border including two-legged drollery creature.