15
15
Prayerbook, Use of Saint-Omer, in Latin and Picard French
[WRITTEN IN NORTHERN FRANCE (SAINT-OMER), WITH INSERTED FLEMISH MINIATURES (BRUGES), 15TH CENTURY (C.1430S)]
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 37,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
15
Prayerbook, Use of Saint-Omer, in Latin and Picard French
[WRITTEN IN NORTHERN FRANCE (SAINT-OMER), WITH INSERTED FLEMISH MINIATURES (BRUGES), 15TH CENTURY (C.1430S)]
Estimate
20,00030,000
LOT SOLD. 37,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Music, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental Books

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Prayerbook, Use of Saint-Omer, in Latin and Picard French
[WRITTEN IN NORTHERN FRANCE (SAINT-OMER), WITH INSERTED FLEMISH MINIATURES (BRUGES), 15TH CENTURY (C.1430S)]
c.170x130mm, vellum, ii+331+2 leaves, foliated every 5th leaf in the lower corner, 17 lines, the ruled space c.100x70mm, the calendar in quires of 6 leaves, the remainder mostly in quires of 8, but with an uncertain number of inserted miniatures and other leaves missing, prickings and catchwords frequently survive, illuminated with eight full-page miniatures, each with a full border, facing pages with a five-line initial and full border, and nine similar pages (ff.31r, 35r, 60r, 68r, 71r, 74r, 79r, 97r, 204r) without facing miniatures (presumably missing); some thumbing and stains, but generally in fine condition throughout; contemporary blind-stamped binding: sewn on five bands and bound in brown leather over wood boards, each cover tooled with fillets and small stamps (the Agnus dei, a monkey holding a chalice, and a winged serpent or dragon with flowers), edges gauffered and gilt, rebacked in the 17th/18th century, the spine with two gilt title-pieces: ‘Heures Latines et Franca[ais] / Manuscrit’, clasps and catches missing, some wear, but the blind-stamps mostly crisp and legible; in a modern fitted box
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Catalogue Note

A HIGHLY PERSONALISED PRAYERBOOK WITH ABOUT THREE HUNDRED PAGES OF TEXT IN FRENCH, with exceptional scope for future research into the binding, heraldry, illumination, French devotional texts, etc.

Provenance
(1) Written at Saint-Omer to judge by the liturgical content and the prayer on f.261v, apparently for a couple from the Sainte-Aldegonde and Rabodengues families, with their heraldic shields painted in two borders: ecartelé, aux 1 et 3 d’or à la croix ancrée de gueules (Rabodengues); 2, d’argent à trois doloires de gueules (Renty); 4, d’argent à la bande de fuselée de sable (Boncourt?) (f.204r; as in the Armorial de l’Europe et de la Toison d’or, Paris, Bibl. de l’Arsenal, ms. 4790, f.74r), and d’hermine, à une croix de gueules chargée de cinq quintefeuilles d’or (Sainte-Aldegonde; f.83r; as in the Psalter of Gilbert de Sainte-Aldegonde, see M. Gil and L. Nys, Saint-Omer gothique, 2004, fig.35); the Sainte-Aldegonde family were prominent citizens of Saint-Omer in the 15th century; in the prayers to at the beginning (ff.13r-27r) St Aldegonde is first among the female saints (f.23r). (2) Imprints of about a dozen pilgrim badges, formerly sewn onto front flyleaf. (3) Private collection, France.

Text
Full Calendar, in French (f.1r), including ‘Saint Omer en fleurs’ (8 June), ‘St Omer evesque’ (9 Sept.), St Denis (to whom a church in Saint-Omer is dedicated), and St Bertin (to whom the abbey on the outskirts of the town is dedicated) (5 Sept.), all in red; an account of the Mass of St Gregory in French (f.13r), followed by a long series of prayers, mostly to saints, many in French (f.13r), including a ‘Memore de Sainte Audegonde’ (‘… ora pro nobis beata patrona Aldegondis …’); Hours of the Cross (f.31r) of the Spirit (f.35r) and of the Virgin, with Matins (f.41r), Lauds (f.51r), Prime (f.60r), Terce (f.65r), Sext (f.68r), None (f.71r), Vespers (f.74r), and Compline (f.79r); Penitential Psalms (f.83r) and Litany (f.92v); Hours of the Trinity (f.97r); Hours of the Cross, in French (f.120r); prayers in French on the size of the Nails and of the Wound in Christ’s side (f.122v); Office of the Dead, Use apparently a variant of Therouanne (in which diocese St-Omer lies) (f.124r); Commendation of Souls (f.157r); a long rubric in French detailing indulgences (f.177r) followed by prayers including the Fifteen Os and ‘Obsecro te’; prayers in French: ‘O intemerata. Treschertaine esperanche …’ (f.188r), Les XXV douleurs (f.194v), Les V turbations (f.200r), and Les V goyes [sic] (f.203r) of the Virgin, Les XV goyes (f.204r) and Les VII requestes a nostre signeur (f.209r), prayers to the Virgin, Christ, and saints, one of them beginning ‘O tres glorieuse pucelle, Mere de dieu fille et ancelle, A ce iour’duy en Saint Omer, Mon orison en ta capelle …’ (f.261v); the ‘Salve regina’ (f. 272r), 15 Gradual Psalms (f.276r), and other prayers in French in Latin, e.g. ‘Chest le prologue de tres chertaine esperanche …’ (f.283r), ‘Matines de la Crois’ (f.286r) and other devotions in French, some in rhyming verse.

 

In outward appearance this volume looks more like a squat, fat, Breviary than a normal Book of Hours. It seems that the original patrons wanted a prayerbook that was a compendium of all available devotions: apparently some core texts were written first, with 16 lines per page (ff.31r–122r: Hours of the Cross, Spirit, Virgin, Penitential Psalms, Hours of the Trinity, and of the Cross in French); to these were added the calendar and numerous further devotions, mostly in French, written by more than one scribe, with 17 lines per page (ff.1r-30v and 124r–331v).

 

Illumination

The miniatures are painted on the versos of otherwise blank leaves in a style similar to the Masters of the Gold Scrolls, active in Bruges c.1415–55. They are thus probably examples (surprisingly uncommon) of a trade in single miniatures that is well attested in documentary sources. Today we tend to think of typical Books of Hours as having miniatures, but the majority of Psalters and Book of Hours in 15th-century St-Omer apparently did not (see Saint-Omer gothique, p.134). The subjects of the miniatures are: (1) Annunciation (f.40v), (2) Visitation (f.50v), (3) Annunciation to the Shepherds (f.64v), (4) David in Penitence (f.82v), (5) Christ in Gethsemane (f.119v), (6) Funeral service (f.123v), (7) Angels carrying souls to heaven (f.156v), (8) Last Judgement (f.208v). In addition, there is a life-size drawing of one of the nails from the Crucifixion, and a diagram showing the size of the wound in Christ’s side, each with explanatory texts in French, each beginning: ‘Chest chy le longueur et le largueur’ and continuing either ‘des claus qui furent frappe es mains et es pies de nostre signieur Ihesu Crist …’ or ‘de la plaie du coste Ihesu Crist …’.

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