A book of hours illuminated in grisaille technique with remarkable border decoration
22 Book of hours for the use of RomeManuscript on vellum, illuminated by the Master of Marguerite de Liederkerke. Flanders, Hainault (Mons or Valenciennes), c. 1500.
219 x 160 mm. 302 leaves, lacking one leaf after fol. 279, else complete: I8-2 (two blanks cancelled), II6, III-V8,VI6-1 (one blank cancelled),VII-IX8, X4, XI-XXII8, XXIII6,XXIV-XXXV8,XXXVI4,XXXVII8, XXXVIII8-1,XXXIX-XL8. Some horizontal catchwords. – Written space 130 x 90 mm, 19 lines, ruled in red.Written in dark brown ink in a flamboyant lettre bâtarde with some decorative cadels, headings in dull red, line-fillings and one-line initials in liquid gold on brick-red and deep blue grounds, two-line initials in fluffy designs in white and grey on brown panels dotted with liquid gold, four- to five-line initials in red, blue and brown with heightening in liquid silver and gold, four headings in gold on coloured banderoles in upper margins. 37 small miniatures in semi-grisaille with fullheight panel borders frequently illustrated with further scenes, naturalistic animals or birds, 13 large or full-page miniatures in semi-grisaille above 4 or 5 lines of text within full borders, spaces for 16 further large miniatures left blank. – Occasional slight smudging of miniatures, a few minor stains, some leaves a bit thumbed and cockled, traces of an oval stamp erased at each end, generally in very fine condition with wide margins. – 17th-century tan calf gilt with a semé of fleurs-de-lys, spine in compartments similar, vellum endleaves, red edges, joints repaired; in a full black morocco fitted case, title gilt.
PROVENANCE: 1. on fol. 201 there is a scribbled name “Stestenye”. 2. Inside of both covers, “Ce livre apartien a moy vincent guichard”, perhaps of the Guichard family of Saint- Symphorien-le-Châtel (de Ricci 1937, p. 1286, no. 9). There are traces of an oval stamp erased at each end, perhaps that of a bishop or cardinal. 3. Ambroise Firmin-Didot (1790-1879); his sale, Drouot, Paris, 11 June 1883, lot 17. 4. Baron Horace de Landau (1824-1903), with his bookplate with stamped number 5 (presumably acquired in 1883); by descent to his great-nephew Horace Finaly (d. 1945); his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 12 July 1948, lot 60. 5. Jaime Ortiz-Patiño; his sale, Sotheby’s, New York, 21 April 1998, lot 38. 6. Private collection, Europe.
TEXT: fol. 1-12v: Calendar – fol. 13: Passion Sequences, with the reading from Matthew marked for use on Sunday, from Mark for Tuesday, and Luke for Wednesday, followed by the usual Gospel Sequences (fol. 42) and the Passion Sequence from John for use on Friday (fol. 47) – fol. 55v-89v: Hours of the Cross – fol. 63: Hours of the Holy Ghost – fol. 70-116: Hours of the Virgin for Sunday, Monday and Thursday – fol. 118: Hours of the Virgin for Tuesday and Friday – fol. 166: Hours of the Virgin for Wednesday and Saturday – fol. 212-228: Penitential Psalms and Litany (fol. 220v) – fol. 228v-266: Office of the Dead – fol. 266v: Prayers to the Trinity and to the Virgin – fol. 280: Obsecro te, O intemerata – fol. 283v: Suffrages – fol. 296:Various Prayers. The manuscript was made in two stages. It must have begun as a relatively straightforward book of hours with Calendar, Gospel and Passion Sequences, Hours of the Cross and of the Holy Ghost, Hours of the Virgin, Penitential Psalms and Litany, Office of the Dead and various prayers and suffrages. The book thus had about 170 leaves. It was then returned to the workshop, and greatly enhanced with approximately another 132 leaves, supplying separate sets of Passion readings and Hours for every day of the week. Spaces were left for miniatures which were never supplied. The text is thus now quite exceptionally elaborate.
ILLUMINATION: Small miniatures on fol. 42, 43, 44, 45, 49, 51, 51v, 53, 54, 266v, 267, 267v, 283v, 284, 284v, 285, 285v, 286, 286v, 287, 287v, 288, 288v, 289v, 290, 290v, 291, 291v, 292, 293, 293v, 294, 294v, 295, 301v. Large or full-page miniatures: fol. 46v: Betrayal – fol. 55v: Crucifixion – fol. 63: Pentecost – fol. 70:Annunciation – fol. 79:Visitation – fol. 88v: Nativity – fol. 93:Annunciation to the Shepherds – fol. 97: Adoration of the Magi – fol. 101: Presentation – fol. 105: Flight into Egypt – fol. 112: Massacre of the Innocents – fol. 212: David – fol. 228v: Raising of Lazarus. The main feature of this unusual book is that it is painted in grisaille, that is, heightened only with white and liquid gold; certain secondary or background features are then washed across in colour. The fashion for semi-grisaille illumination goes back at least to the court school in Paris in the 1320s, and lasted sporadically until about 1400. It was then revived, in French Flanders and the southern Netherlands late in the 15th century, perhaps as a response to a new taste for the comparative restraint of metal engravings. The miniature of the Betrayal (fol. 46v) is copied almost exactly from an engraving of c. 1470 by Israhel van Meckenem (Bartsch VI, p. 207,no. 11). Tonal shades of painting are much harder to execute without the help of colour, and the grisaille technique must often have been an excuse to show off the dexterity and virtuosity of an artist. The artist at hand is a close collaborator of the Master of Antoine Rolin and his identification has been a matter of repeated art-historical debate. At first known as the ‘Master of the Echecs amoureux of Dresden’, he was re-named in 2005 after the Antiphonary of Maguerite de Liederkerke (Westmalle,Trappiste Abbey, ms. 9 – cf. Legaré 2005). As his collaboration with the Master of Antoine Rolin for the Annales du Hainaut of 1490 reveals (Oxford, Bodl. Lib., Holkham Misc. 50-53), he must, like his colleague, have enjoyed a considerable reputation.Anne-Marie Legaré has contributed enormously to our knowledge of book illumination in Hainaut and has defined an oeuvre of 18 manuscripts by this illuminator. So far no other manuscript with grisaille decoration is known by him, yet there are parallels in works by the Master of Antoine Rolin (New York, PML, M. 33). Our artist probably owes much of his inspiration for the historiated borders to him.With 13 large and 37 small miniatures – apart from the borders – our manuscript is a richly illustrated book of hours for a wealthy patron.
LITERATURE: Legaré 1991, p. 94; Legaré 1992, p. 220, no. 31; Legaré 1996, pp. 206-7, no. 24, Legaré 2005, pp. 407-17. Krieger 1995; Legaré 2002, pp. 65-124; exh. cat. Los Angeles and London 2003, p., 403f.