PROPERTY OF THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
The book comprises: a Calendar (fol.1r); the Gospel Sequences (fol.5r); the Obsecro te (fol.8r), the O intemerata (fol.9v); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol.11r), Lauds (fol.19v), Prime (fol.25r), Terce (fol.27r), Sext (fol.29r), None (fol.31r), Vespers (fol.33r) and Compline (fol.37r); the Hours of the Cross (fol.43r); the Hours of the Holy Spirit(fol.46r); the Penitential Psalms (fol.49r), followed by a Litany; the Office of the Dead (fol.59r); and the Suffrages to the Saints (fol.78r).
This richly illuminated manuscript belongs to a small group of extra-illustrated Books of Hours, produced around 1500 by a group of Parisian artists, which all have small miniatures in the borders of almost all of their pages (see I. Delaunay in Revue du Louvre, no. 4, 1993, pp.11-25). Six are in public collections (i: Écouen, Musée national de la Renaissance, E.Cl.1251; ii: Madrid, Bib. Nac. ms. vit.24-3; iii: New Haven, Yale, MS.411; iv: Philadelphia, Free Library, Lewis coll.113; v: Chantilly, Musée Condé, ms.72; and vi: London, British Library, Add. MS.25696), and to these should bhe added another from the nineteenth-century collection of the Comte de Panisse which came to the market in 2000 (Leuchtendes Mittelalter, Neue Folge III, no.23).
The first sequence of small miniatures which accompanies the Gospel Readings and Prayers to the Virgin shows animals and grotesque figures in wide landscapes (such as the monkey riding on a drollery creature on fol.15r and the blue devil sailing around in a boat on fol.18r). Especially charming is a man picking fruit from a tree while being watched by a stag on fol.8v, in which the illuminator has extended the scene up the entire outer margin to show the whole tree and the wide blue sky with tiny clouds in liquid gold above it. The Hours of the Virgin, the Cross and the Holy Spirit oppose occupational scenes and fantastical images with biblical scenes (such as God appearing to Moses in the burning bush and a Fool on fols.12v-13r; and a woman, perhaps the Virgin, seated and drawing a bearded man, and the Annunciation to the Virgin on fol.22v-23r), before showing longer sequences dedicated to the life of the Virgin and Christ (including his temptation by a hairy devil on fols.37v-38r, and baptism by John the Baptist on fol.35v). The cycle closes with the Burial of Christ (fol. 43v) and apparitions to his Mother (fol.46v), Mary Magdalene (fol.47r) and an Apostle (fol.47v). The border scenes in the Penitential Psalms predominantly relate to the life of King David, but are interspersed with animals (including one on fol.54v in which a man aims a crossbow at a water bird, and another on fol.57r with a white cat seated on a pair of bellows, licking its bottom). The Office of the Dead is illustrated with images of the Dance of Death, in which a skeletal corpse dressed only in a shroud, points to and then leads away men and women from different orders of society and of all different ages (some 30 scenes in total). The last scenes are ones of hunting (with a monkey with a spear catching rabbits on fol.75r, a man hunting deer with a spear on fol.75v, another man leading a white steed with a dead stag hung over its back on fol.76r, and an archer hunting birds on fol.76v), and scenes from the lives of saints.
The larger miniatures are no less remarkable, and those on fols.11r, 42v-43r, 45v-46r are by an artist closely connected to the Master of Martainville 183 (fl. in Paris, c.1500-1520). This artist played a major role in the production of a small group of manuscripts that are decorated with richly historiated borders, and although his work is closely related to Jean Pichore’s, he is also greatly indebted to Jean Bourdichon. The Fall of Lucifer on fol.4v, with God in majesty as bat-faced and winged devils spill downwards from the heavens to the rocks below, is a rare composition, and the Apostles spreading out to preach and baptize all nations on fol.45v, here as five men with pilgrims’ staffs walking away from each other into the wilderness, is worth especial note.
The large miniatures comprise: (1) fol.4v, The Fall of Lucifer; (2) fols.10v-11r, the Creation of Adam and Eve and the Annunciation to the Virgin; (3) fol.19v, the Visitation of the Virgin to St. Anne; (4) fol.25r, the Nativity; (5) fol.27r, the Annunciation to the Shepherds; (6) fol.29r, the Adoration of the Magi; (7) fol.31r, the Presentation in the Temple; (8) fol.33r, Herod ordering the execution of all young males; (9) fol.37r, the Coronation of the Virgin; (10) fols.42v-43r, Christ Carrying the Cross and the Crucifixion; (11) fols.45v-46r, the Apostles spreading out to preach and baptise all nations and the Pentecost; (12) fol.48v, King David handing the letter to Uriah; (13) fol.58v, the rich man and Lazarus.
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