Book of Hours, Use of Rome [Bruges, 1460s], illuminated manuscript on vellum, later blue morocco
30,000 - 40,000 GBP
Property from the Brooklyn Museum, sold to support Museum Collections
Book of Hours, Use of Rome
in Latin and Italian, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands (Bruges), 15th century, after 1450 (c.1460s), and 19th century]
iii + 236 + ii leaves, c.97×70 mm; ruled in red ink for 15 lines per page (ruled space c.51×32 mm); ILLUMINATED WITH THIRTEEN FULL-PAGE MINIATURES SURROUNDED BY FULL BORDERS on inserted leaves, blank on the recto, four of them modern, others missing, large foliate initials with full borders facing each miniature and at the beginning of other major texts (which probably once faced inserted miniatures), small illuminated and flourished initials throughout. Bound in Paris c.1830s–‘40s in full fine-grained black calf, the understated exterior contrasting with the gilt filigree borders of the vellum pastedowns, signed on the turn-in BY TRAUTZ-BAUZONNET, the spine with gilt title ‘Hore Virginis’, edges gilt and gauffered; in a brown calf slip-case and conservation box
The Seven Prayers of St Gregory: ‘O domine Ihesu Christi adoro te in cruce …’ (f.1r), followed (f.3r) by a two-page rubric about it, recording indulgences of 20,007 years and 36 days; blank (f.4); Calendar (f.5r); Hours of the Cross (f.18r) and of the Spirit (f.27r); Mass of the Virgin (f.35r), including the pericopes from the Gospels; Hours of the Virgin, ‘secundum consuetudinem Romane ecclesie’ (f.50r), with a miniature before each hour except Prime (f.87r), followed by the Advent Hours (f.128r); Seven Penitential Psalms and litany (f.146r); Office of the Dead (f.172r); prayers ‘Obsecro te’ (f.226r) and ‘O intemerata’ (f.230r), using masculine forms.
Immediately after the ‘O intemerata’, there follows (f.233r) a near-contemporary added prayer with rubric ‘Oratio sancti Augustini’, later altered to ‘in afflictione’, IN ITALIAN, in a dialect perhaps of the southern Veneto: ‘Dulcissimo Yhesu Christe vere fijo de dee vivo chi de lo sen de dee paere omnipotente è staito mandao in lo mundo a relaxar le peccae …’, ending at f.236r: ‘… pero che tu e beneito in secula seculorum. Amen.’
1. Doubtless written and illuminated at Bruges, and certainly originally bound there: the original front pastedown is preserved, and bears the FORMAL INSCRIPTION OF THE ORIGINAL BINDER: ‘Johannes Lecat me ligavit in Brugis’ (fol. iii verso). In 1454 Bruges bookbinders were incorporated with booksellers, stationers, scribes, and illuminators into the Guild of St John the Evangelist, so their names are recorded, and the accounts of Jan de Cat / le Cat / Lecat, who was Dean of the Guild 1485–86, survive. W.E.J. Weale, who studied and published the guild documents in the 1860s, later wrote that none of his bindings are known to have survived (Bookbindings (London, 1898), p.liv). The book can certainly be dated after 1450 by the inclusion of St Bernardino in the calendar (21 June), and it was probably WRITTEN FOR AN ITALIAN PATRON to judge by the very unusual inclusion of St Mustiola of Chiusi (3 July) in the calendar, and the added prayer.
2. Raoul Léonor, comte de Lignerolles (1817–1893): sold in Paris at the Hôtel Drouot, 29 January 1894, and following days, lot 5; bought by M. Bélin for 680 francs (see ‘Les manuscrits du comte de Lignerolles’, in La Correspondance historique et archéologique, 1 (1894), at p. 34).
3. Late 19th- or early 20th-century English(?) bookseller’s price-code (back flyleaf).
4. Miss Mary Benson, of Brooklyn; bequeathed in 1919 to the Brooklyn Museum of Art, with their accession no. ‘19.71’ (f.ir) (cf. S.A. Hutchinson, ‘The Mary Benson Bequest of Illuminated Manuscripts and Autograph Letters’, The Brooklyn Museum Quarterly, 6 (October 1919), pp. 222–27; de Ricci, Census, II, 1937, p. 1194, no. 4).
The subjects of the miniatures are:
1. (f.17v) Crucifixion
2. (f.26v) Pentecost
3. (f.36v) Christ addressing a woman, his words ‘Beati qui audiunt vocem dei’ (Luke 1:28) on a scroll held by an angel above
4. (f.49v) Annunciation
5. (f.72v) Visitation
6. (f.92v) Annunciation to the Shepherds
7. (f.98v) Two angels holding a bird-cage with open doors, above a scroll inscribed ‘Anima nostra sicut passer’ (Psalm 123:7, ‘Our soul, like a sparrow [has been snatched away …]’), with demons catching one bird in a net, and a female saint (the Virgin?) freeing another bird from a net
8. (f.104v) Presentation in the Temple
9. (f.110v) Massacre of the Innocents
10. (f.120v) Flight into Egypt
11. (f.127v) Coronation of the Virgin
12. (f.145v) Last Judgement
13. (f.171v) A bishop administering the Last Rites to an old man on his deathbed, watched by his grieving wife or daughter; his soul being carried to heaven by an angel
FOUR OF THE MINIATURES ARE VERY HIGH QUALITY AND UNUSUAL EARLY 19TH-CENTURY REPLACEMENTS for lost leaves (nos. 2, 3, 7, and 13 in the list above); not only do the style and colours match the original miniatures and borders closely, but the iconography of nos. 3 and 7, in particular, are very inventive. They must have been executed before the Trautz-Bauzonnet binding; a Nativity miniature (f.86v) was recorded in the 1894 Lignerolles catalogue.
The style of illumination of the original miniatures has features in common with Bruges artists of the third quarter of the 15th-century, including the crisp delineation and somewhat doll-like figures typical of Willem Vrelant, and the characteristic gold-scrolls-on-burgundy backgrounds of the Masters of the Gold Scrolls, but is distinct from their styles in the treatment of draperies, heads, and faces.
Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate
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