An exquisite Flemish book of hours with reused miniatures
23 Croy-Arenberg Book of Hours, use of Sarum (Salisbury)Manuscript on vellum, with miniatures by the Master of Sir George Talbot, the Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian and the Master of the David Scenes in the Grimani Breviary. Flanders (Ghent?), 1505 and c. 1510/1520.
211 x 153 mm. 206 leaves (fol. 15 missing) plus pastedowns glued to the front and back covers: I2+1+1+1+1, II8, III6+1-1, IV6,V-IX8, X8+1, XI8, XII-XIV8+1, XV6+1+1+1, XVI-XVIII8, XIX8+1, XX8 XXI6+1, XXII8, XXIII8+1, XXIV8, XXV8+1, XXVI4+1+1. Foliation in pencil in the upper right corners. – Written space 108 x 74 mm, ruled in red, one column of 18 lines, written in a regular Textualis Formata in black ink with headings in red. One- and two-line initials consisting of golden branches on red, blue, green or grey-violet ground, line fillers in the same colours. 20 six- and seven-line initials in white and gold on blue or violet ground.All other pages with decoration in the lower and outer margins consisting of flowers, fruit, animals, fabulous creatures, goldsmith objects, jewellery,musical instruments and roundels with scenes from the danse macabre. 15 full-page miniatures pasted in, 44 smaller (seven- to nine-line) miniatures and historiated initials plus 100 illuminated borders. – Fol. 16 slightly rubbed, otherwise very good condition. – Later binding: velvet and silk over wooden boards. Spine with six raised bands.
PROVENANCE: 1. The Croy-Arenberg Hours was made for an English patron, as is evident from the liturgical use and from the saints of the calendar and the litany (esp. John of Beverley, who was venerated in York). The codex, however, never reached England. 2. Charles de Croy, Duke of Chimay (1455-1527), purchased the manuscript, probably for his daughter Anne (1502-39) on the occasion of her marriage in 1520 with Philippe de Croy (1496-1568), first Duke of Aerschot (arms of the family and the Duke on fol. 2). 3. Charles de Ligne, prince d’Arenberg and Anne de Croy (their arms on fol. 101v). In 1841 the codex passed into the hands of Prosper-Ludwig von Arenberg (1785-1861) and Ludmilla princess von Lobkowicz (their arms on fol. 204). The library of the Dukes of Arenberg was dissolved in the 1950s-60s (cat. Seligmann 1952; Heyen 1987; Heyen/Behr 1990). 4. Private collection, Europe.
TEXT: fol. 2v-14: Calendar – fol. 16-21v: Prayers – fol. 22- 27: Gospel Lessons – fol. 28-44: Hours of the Virgin – fol. 44v-52: Memorials to the Saints – fol. 52v-53v: Hours of the Cross – fol. 54-86: Hours of the Virgin – fol. 87-97v: Prayers to the Virgin – fol. 98-110v: Prayers to Christ – fol. 112-113v:Verses of St George – fol. 114-118: Memorials to the Saints – fol. 119-140v: Penitential Psalms with Litany – fol. 140v-141v:Verses of St Bernard – fol. 143-180v: Office of the Dead – fol. 182-194v: Psalms of the Passion – fol. 196- 198v: Prayers to the Trinity – fol. 199-204: Rosary.
ILLUMINATION: Full-page Miniatures: fol. 1v: Salvator mundi – fol. 27v: Annunciation – fol. 36v: Visitation – fol. 59v: Nativity; lacking Annunciation to the Shepherds and Adoration of the Magi – fol. 64v: Flight into Egypt – fol. 69v: Presentation – fol. 80v: Death of the Virgin – fol. 86v: Mary with the Christ Child – fol. 94v: Mary on a Crescent Moon – fol. 101v: Crucifixion with Passion Scenes – fol. 111v: Mass of St Gregory – fol. 118v: Bathsheba – fol. 142v: Deathbed – fol. 181v: Pietà – fol. 195v:Trinity. Small miniatures on fol. 22, 23v, 25, 26v, 44v, 45, 45v, 46, 46v, 47, 47v, 48, 48v, 49, 49v, 50, 50v, 50bis, 50bis v, 51, 51v, 52v, 88v, 89v, 98, 98v, 103v, 104, 104v, 105, 106, 106v, 107 (2), 107v, 108, 108v, 109, 109v, 110, 114, 116, 117v, 140v, 196, 196v, 197. All 15 large miniatures have been pasted into the manuscript; the Salvator mundi (fol. 1v) would originally have preceded the prayer to the Virgin (fol. 15v). The Croy-Arenberg Hours originate from the workshop of the Master of Sir George Talbot (Thoss 1987), who is responsible for most of the illumination. Exceptions are the initials depicting the scenes of the Passion (fol. 103v-110), which are by a collaborator, and nine large miniatures (fol. 36v, 59v, 64v, 69v, 80v, 181v), copies after compositions by Simon Marmion (c. 1420-89) in the La Flora Hours in Naples, which are the work of the Master of the First Prayer Book of the Emperor Maximilian. Fernand de Mély discovered a date in the bonnet of Simeon in the Presentation scene (fol. 69v) which reads AN/MO/DV, “AN[N]O MDV”. The image of the Salvator (fol. 1v) may be attributed to the Master of the David Scenes in the Grimani Breviary. At a later date the positions of some miniatures in the manuscript were changed, and two miniatures were added (fol. 27v and 118v). It is possible that two miniatures of the original cycle were removed at the same time (London, Sotheby’s, 5 December 1994, lot 15). The full-page Virgin on the Crescent Moon (fol. 94v) is a copy of Dürer’s engraving of 1508 (Meder 32); the Trinity (fol. 195v) may be compared to Gerard Horenbout’s composition in the Spinola Hours (Los Angeles, J.P. Getty Museum, ms. Ludwig IX. 18, fol. 10v), which should be dated no earlier than 1515.The multipartite composition of the Crucifixion (fol. 101v) corresponds to the taste of the 1520s. The trompe-l'oeil borders from the workshop of the Talbot Master are particularly charming, the choice of motifs, partly relating to the texts, being almost unique. This technique reaches a first climax in the penitential psalms (fol. 119v- 128), but is surpassed in the marginal decoration of the Hours of the Dead, with a danse macabre of more than 70 figures. Another unusual feature is the ornamental panels that fill the lower portions of the written space where a text ends. The extremely rich decoration of the Croy-Arenberg Hours raises the manuscript to an outstanding level.
LITERATURE: Exh. cat. Düsseldorf 1904, pp. 180-181; Clemen 1907, pp. 74-95; Beissel 1906-1907, pp. 73-74, ill. 1- 4; de Mély 1911, pp. 243-53; de Mély 1913, pp. 348ff; Winkler 1925, pp. 128, 168; Lemaire, pp. S. 96, 101; Smeyers/van der Stock 1996, p. 130, with ill. Martin 1980; Heyen 1987; Heyen/Behr 1990; exh. cat. New York 1994; exh. cat. Brussels 1996, pp. 201-205; As-Vijvers 2002, exh. cat. Los Angeles/London 2003.