An interesting example of manuscript production in the French capital for use by a patron from Chartres
12 Book of hours, use of ChartresManuscript on vellum, illuminated by the Bedford workshop. France, Paris, c. 1400-10.
141 x 104 mm. 1+198 leaves, complete: I12, II4, III-XIII8, XIV2, XV-XVI8, XVII4, XVIII-XXVI8. Unfoliated. – Written space 75 x 47 mm, ruled in plummet for one column of 14 lines, for the calendar 17 lines.Textualis in black and red, one-line initials in gold on alternately mauve and blue ground with white pen-work, line-fillers of the same type, one-line ivy-leaf initials in mauve or blue on gold ground for the suffrage to St Christopher and matins of the Office of the Virgin. Two-line initials of the same type with radiating ivy-leaf decoration and coloured branches, three-line initials in the same manner for the beginnings of each hour. 13 miniatures, 11 above four, two above five lines of text. All miniatures surrounded by wide three-sided bars with ivy-leaf decoration and four-sided ivy-leaf borders. – Face of the angel in the Annunciation smudged, otherwise in good condition. – Brown calf over cardboard, spine with six raised bands, covers with double frame of blind-stamped filets, in the corners of the inner frame as well as in the centre gold-stamped flowers, binding battered.
PROVENANCE: Private collection, Europe.
TEXT:fol. 1-12: Calendar – fol. 13-16v: Suffrages: St Christopher (fol. 13), St Denis (fol. 14v) – fol. 17-22: Gospel lessons – fol. 22v-24: Readings for Saturday (use of Chartres); fol. 24v: blank – fol. 25: Office of the Virgin (use of Chartres): Matins (fol. 25), Lauds (fol. 52) – fol. 64v: Suffrages: St Michael (fol. 64v), St Catherine (fol. 65), All Saints (fol. 65v) – fol. 66: Office of the Virgin: Prime (fol. 66), Terce (fol. 73), Sext (fol. 78v), None (fol. 83v),Vesper (fol. 88v), Compline (fol. 96v) – fol. 102: Obsecro te – fol. 107: Penitential psalms – fol. 120: Litany – fol. 127: Hours of the Cross – fol. 133-138: Hours of the Holy Spirit - fol. 138v:blank – fol. 149: Office of the Dead – fol. 191: Latin Prayers, ending on fol. 196v - fol. 197-198: blank. Although certainly written in Paris, this book of hours is unusual with regard to its text. The calendar is immediately followed by the suffrages, as usually found only in manuscripts commissioned by English patrons. However, one of the most famous manuscripts of this period, The Boucicaut Hours (Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, ms. 2), shows a similar textual division. Another unusual feature is the inclusion of suffrages in the Office of the Virgin, which to date has been regarded as typical of books of hours for the use of Rouen. There is no doubt that the codex was made for the use of Chartres, as can be deduced from the readings for Saturdays, which are described as ad usum carnotensem. The use of this diocese, although honoured by an important cathedral, is extremely rare within illuminated books of hours.
ILLUMINATION: fol. 13: St Christopher – fol. 25:Annunciation – fol. 46: Visitation – fol. 66: Nativity – fol. 73: Annunciation to the Shepherds – fol. 78v: Adoration of the Magi – fol. 83v: Presentation to the Temple – fol. 88v: Flight into Egypt – fol. 95v: Coronation of the Virgin – fol. 107: David penitent – fol. 127: Crucifixion – fol. 133: Pentecost – fol. 149: Funeral Mass. The volume contains various hands, as is evident, for example, from a comparison of the stout figure of David (fol. 107) with the dainty figures of the Magi (fol. 78v). The rendering of landscape does not seem to be a major concern of the artists involved, but this is hardly a fault given the agile figures with their lively gestures. The definition of the group of illuminators, named after the English regent of occupied France between 1422 and 1435, John of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford, to whom the present book of hours is attributed, is an interesting problem in the study of Parisian manuscript illumination (Bedford Hours: London, BL, Add. 18850, Breviary for the Duke of Bedford: Paris, BN, lat. 17294). Although the mature Bedford style evokes interiors of considerable sophistication, landscape is not among its strengths.The workshop did not develop a fully homgeneous style. Whereas scholars formerly differentiated between the full-fledged style of the workshop and its stylistic forerunners, labelled “Bedford trend” by Meiss, more recently there have been repeated attempts to identify the anonymous master behind this stylistic current with Haincelin de Hagenau, an artist originating from Alsace, who is known through archival documents. In the light of Villela-Petit 2003 and Avril 2006 this identification has gained new weight. The inspiration and innovation Parisian manuscript illumination owes to the Bedford Master alias Haincelin de Hagenau can hardly have its basis in a trend preceding his activity and therefore there is today a strong tendency to incorporate all manuscripts previously labelled ‘Pre-Bedford style’ into the oeuvre of the Bedford Master. A complete chronology, however, is yet to be established.The miniatures in a book of hours in Oxford dated 1408 (Bodleian Library, Douce 144) are regarded as the earliest works of the artist. According to most formal criteria the manuscript should be connected with the early oeuvre of the Bedford group. The wide borders with branches, as well as the lack of architectural elements and the use of ornamental backgrounds argue in favour of this attribution. Caution should be expressed, however, regarding the date: the artist consistently chooses a sky gradually lightening towards the horizon, and the border consisting of vases framing the Flight into Egypt betrays the artist’s playful handling of decorative forms. A much later example, the Hours of Jean de Gingins, dated 1421 (Lausanne, Arch. Cant.Vaudoises, Arch. du Chateau de la Sarraz, No. 50) shows the Bedford group still working with ornamental grounds and wide bar frames, while the conception of landscape is further developed. The unknown patron from Chartres seems to have made a deliberate choice of a traditional form of decoration as well as of interiors reduced in importance in comparison with the figures. This elegant small codex presents miniatures of a delicate splendour, in which the viewer’s eye is consistently guided towards the characters acting in each of its scenes.
LITERATURE: The manuscript is hitherto unpublished. Meiss 1972; Spencer 1977; Sterling 1987, pp. 419ff.; Backhouse 1990; Villela-Petit 2003; exh. cat. Paris 2004; Avril/ Voelkle 2006; König 2007, pp. 27-28, 31.