A book of the highest quality, from the greatest period of Parisian book production
15 The so-called Wardington Hours, hours of the PassionManuscript on vellum, illuminated by the Bedford workshop. France, Paris, c. 1410 and 1430.
238 x 168 mm. 40 leaves, plus 5 original flyleaves, complete: I-V8, with horizontal catchwords in cursive script. – Written space 108 x 65 mm, 15 lines, ruled in red ink.Written in a fine gothic liturgical hand in dark grey-brown ink in two sizes, rubrics in red, line-fillers. One- to three-line illuminated initials throughout in designs of flowers and leaves in blue and orange with white tracery on gold panels, every page with four-sided borders springing from narrow three-sided baguettes and formed of broad panels of burnished gold ivy-leaves. Eight large miniatures in arched compartments above four lines of text with broad illuminated baguettes within full borders of flowers and acanthus sprays infilled with gold ivy-leaves and small flowers and fruit on black hairline stems. – A few spots of rubbing and thumbing, rectangular damp stain in blank space on fol. 9, a few extreme edges slightly stained, overall in fine condition. – 18th-century French red morocco gilt, three-line border, fleurons in corners, spine in compartments gilt, the date or number “1398” in the second compartment, gilt dentelles, gilt edges, in a green quarter morocco fitted case, title gilt.
PROVENANCE: 1. 18th-century armorial bookplate “Ex Libris de Courgy” at each end. The same bookplate occurs in Fitzwilliam Museum ms. 123 (James, Catalogue of Manuscripts, 1895, pp. 287-92), a book of hours acquired by Lord Fitzwilliam in 1808. Stella Panayotova suggests that the owners were the Parisian bourgeois family of de Courgy and that the manuscripts perhaps descended through Baron Antoine-Marie Héron de Villefosse (1774-1852), son of Françoise-Charlotte Héron de Courgy. 2. Henry Pomeroy, second Viscount Harberton (1749-1829), and by descent through the Paravicini family to their sale, Christie’s, 24 March 1953, lot 524, to Bernard Quaritch, London. 3. Dudley M. Colman (d. 1958), of Hove, bought from Quaritch, cat. 716 (1954), no. 313; his sale Sotheby’s, 19 May 1958, lot 102. 4. Booklabel of Lord Wardington (1924-2005), and bookplate of his daughter Lucy Anne Pease; exhibited, Association internationale de bibliophilie, 23rd Congress, Stationers’ Hall, London, 24 September 2003, no. 11.
TEXT: fol. 1: Matins – fol. 9v: Lauds – fol. 15: Prime – fol. 18v: Terce – fol. 22v: Sext – fol. 26v: None – fol. 30: Vespers – fol. 38: Compline. Full Hours of the Passion, in Latin, with a few rubrics in French; and prayers for use by a man. Despite the brevity of the text, the manuscript seems to have been executed as a separate book, with original flyleaves at each end, and it may have been a supplement to a book of hours already made with the more usual short office of the Cross.
ILLUMINATION: fol. l: Betrayal – fol. 9v: Christ before Pilate – fol. 15: Scourging of Christ – fol. 18v:Way to the Cross – fol. 22: Nailing to the Cross – fol. 26v: Crucifixion – fol. 30: Deposition – fol. 35: Entombment. The manuscript was illuminated in two campaigns. In the first, it received a border decoration, as is still visible on the text pages.At the same time, the layout of the pages with miniatures was conceived, beginning with the luxurious baguettes.When, in the second stage the miniatures were painted, the illuminator modernized the borders, adding flowers and acanthus (see fol. 18v).The illumination is by the Bedford workshop (see also cat. no. 12), the leading workshop in Paris during the time of the English occupation.Within the Bedford style, scholars have differentiated various hands with individual names.Whilst the miniatures at the beginning of our volume might be attributed to the Bedford Master himself, those towards the end of the manuscript are by the Dunois Master, named after a book of hours (London, BL, HYT 3) he illuminated for Jean Comte de Dunois, Bastard of Orléans (1403-71) after 1436. In 1977 Spencer recognized this master as ‘Chief Associate’ in the Bedford workshop before Reynaud linked his style with the Dunois Hours (exh. cat. Paris 1993, pp. 23-24; 36-38). In an unpublished commentary Catherine Reynolds proposed that the present Passion Hours had been intended as an appendix to a book of hours at the Huntington Library in San Marino,CA (HM 1100), whose leaves and written space share identical dimensions. As the miniatures of this manuscript quote from Jan van Eyck, Reynolds suggests a date around 1440. Indeed, in the Huntington Hours, which had been begun around 1410 and had then been left unfinished for several decades, one can distinguish the hand of the Dunois Master along with one further variant of the Bedford style, which Reynolds named after a miniature of Saint Stephen in the Salisbury Breviary (Paris, BN, lat. 17294, fol. 529v; cf. Reynolds 2006, p. 451, fig. 69).According to her the miniatures in the manuscript at hand are attributable to the Dunois Master and the so-called Saint Stephen style. The question of whether the hours of the Passion really belonged to the Huntington Hours should be reconsidered. The identical dimensions might support Reynolds’s theory, but the layout of the borders in the bas-de-page zone differs markedly. Moreover, there are differences in the execution of the illumination: the Huntington Hours look as if the borders already sketched out were painted in a later campaign, along with the miniatures, while in the Wardington Hours some portions of the border were erased and re-designed later. At the same time, the illuminations in the Huntington Hours seem more developed.As examples of self-contained Passion Hours are yet unknown, the volume at hand probably was intended as part of another book of hours, but a connection with the Huntington Hours remains uncertain. It therefore seems appropriate to propose a date in the 1430s for the Wardington Hours, based on the borders and aspects of the overall style, for example the plump figures which do not yet show the strong outlines typical of the later phase. Doubtless though, our manuscript is a luxurious product from the Bedford workshop.
LITERATURE: Shailor 1987, pp. 278-79; Reynolds 2006, p. 451. Spencer 1977; Backhouse 1990; Reynaud in exh. cat. Paris 1993;Villela-Petit 2003; Reynolds 2006; König 2007.