2. E. Peter Jones: his early twentieth-century armorial bookplate inside upper cover.
3. Allan E. Bluestein of Washington DC.: 1964 valuation for him enclosed, and his partly erased inscription dated April 1968, recording his presentation of the book to a friend.
The volume comprises: a Calendar (fol.1r); the Gospel Sequences (fol.14r); the Obsecro te (fol.21v) and O intemerata (fol.26v); the Hours of the Virgin, interspersed with suffrages, with Matins (fol.33r), Lauds (fol.45r), followed by appeals to the Holy Spirit (fol.57v), SS. Nicholas (fol.58r), Michael (fol.58v), John the Baptist (fol.59r), John the Evangelist (fol.59v), Peter (fol.60r), Maur (fol.60v), Catherine (fol.61v), Christ (fol.62r), and All Saints (fol.62v), Prime (fol.64r), Terce (fol.69v), Sext (fol.73r), None (fol.76r), Vespers (fol.79v), Compline (fol.86v); the Penitential Psalms (fol.92r); the Hours of the Cross, with Matins (fol.112r) to Compline (fol.115v); the Hours of the Holy Ghost, with Matins (fol.116r) to Compline (fol.118v); the Office of the Dead (fol.120r); the Doulce Dame (fol.153r) and the Sept Requestes in French (fol.159r).
This richly illuminated book of hours is closely connected to the work of the Master of the Echevinage de Rouen who was the most successful Norman illuminator of the third quarter of the fifteenth century. He is recognizable by his pale figures with large round eyes emphasized by grey shadows. Flat tapestries often cover walls in his miniatures (as in the miniatures on fols.64r and 76r here), and his strong colours highlighted with gold hatch strokes create a cool atmosphere. The main artist of the present manuscript impresses through the fine modelling of faces and the lavish use of gold highlighting. This skilful painter collaborated here with two other artists. One was responsible for some of the historiated borders and the historiated initials in the Hours of the Cross and the Holy Spirit (fols.33r, 64r, 69v, 112r, 115v, 116r, 118v, 120r) and is recognisable by stocky figures with neatly combed hair while the other painted the small miniatures for the suffrages (fols.57v-60v, 61v-62v), which are characterised by figures with dark shaded eyes and strong reddish cheeks.
The marginal vignettes in the Calendar and the borders of the miniatures include a large number of rare subjects, often employed by the Master of the Echevinage workshop, including the two-faced Roman God Janus (fol.1r), the legend of Nessus the centaur (here fol.45r), who attempted to abduct Heracles’ wife Deianeira, and was shot by Heracles with an arrow poisoned with the blood of the Hydra, the legends of Orpheus and Eurydice (fol.73r, with Orpheus playing a lyre with a bow as Eurydice steps out of an open hellmouth) and Pyramus and Thisbe (fol.92r). Another Book of Hours, sold in our rooms, 8 July 2008, lot 32, was partly painted by one of the artists of the present manuscript, and contained a smaller number of these rare scenes.
The significant illumination comprises: (1) The Calendar miniatures. January: Janus as a two-faced nobleman (fol.1r) and the Baptism of Christ (fol.1v); February: a man warming his hands by the fire (fol.2r) and Jonah emerging from the Whale (fol.2v); March: the pruning of vines (fol.3r) and the Sacrifice of Isaac (fol.3v); April: picking flowers (fol.4r) and Noah welcoming his family onto the ark (fol.4v); May: a couple riding (fol.5r) and the Creation of Eve (fol.5v); June: harvesting hay (fol.6r) and Job in his dungheap (fol.6v); July: harvesting wheat (fol.7r) and Daniel in the lion’s den; August: threshing (fol.8r) and the Virgin of the Apocalypse (fol.8v); September: treading grapes (fol.9r) and the cleansing of the Temple (fol.9v); October: sowing seeds (fol.10r) and the passage across the Red Sea (fol.10v); November: thrashing the trees for acorns (fol.11r) and Christ among the doctors (fol.11v); December: killing the hog (fol.12r) and baking bread (fol.12v); (2) fol.14r, St. John on Patmos; the borders enclosing St. John boiled in oil and blessing the poisoned Cup; (3) fol.21v, the Pietà; with a Noble man selling his soul to the devil and a Man praying to the Virgin with a rosary; (4) fol.26v, the Virgin of the Apocalypse; with Sibyls and Angels in prayer; (5) fol.33r, the Tree of Jesse; with the Presentation of the Virgin to the Temple, the Virgin weaving, the Marriage of the Virgin, the Annunciation and Adam and Eve standing either side of the serpent in the tree; (6) fol.45r, the Visitation; with Manna falling from Heaven and Nessus the Centaur abducting Heracles’ wife as Heracles shoots an arrow at him; (7) fol. 64r, the Nativity, with St. Augustine and Christ emptying the sea and a Man leading two women; (8) fol.69v, the Annunciation to the Shepherds; with Augustus and the Tiburtine Sibyl; (9) fol.73r, the Adoration of the Magi; with the Magi asking Herod about the new-born Christ and Orpheus and Eurydice; (10) fol.76r, the Presentation in the Temple; with Herod ordering the slaying of the young children and the Massacre of the Innocents; (11) fol.79v, the Flight into Egypt; with the Miracle of the Cornfield as the soldier returns to the field only a few months after harvest to discover the peasants cutting the second and miraculous harvest, and the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem; (12) fol.86v, the Coronation of the Virgin; with the Judgement of Solomon and the Fall of the Idols in Egypt; (13) fol.92r, the Last Judgement; with St. Michael weighing souls, David and Goliath and Pyramus and Thisbe; (14) fol.112r, the Crucifixion; with the Betrayal of Judas and the Death of Judas hanging as two hairy devils pluck his soul (in the form of a tiny naked man) from his chest; (15) fol.116r, the Pentecost, with the Noli me tangere; (16) fol.120r, the Three Living and the Three Dead; with a Burial and the Dance of Death; (17) fol.153r, the Virgin and Child; with Christ in Limbo and the original owner in prayer, before St. John the Baptist.
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