One of the earliest psalter-hours for the use of a woman with an unusual cycle of splendid miniatures
3 One of the earliest psalter-hours for the use of a woman with an unusual cycle of splendid miniaturesManuscript on vellum, illuminated in the du Prat atelier. France, Paris, c. 1250-60.
164 x 104 mm. 240 leaves, plus flyleaf, lacking single leaves after fol. 6, 100 and 168, else complete: I6, II12-1, III-VIII12, IX10+1, X12-1, XI-XII12, XIII10, XIV12, XV12-1, XVI-XVII12, XVIII10-4 (last leaves blank, cancelled at end), XIX-XX12, XXI8, XXII8-2+4 (two leaves cancelled and replaced by two bifolia). – Written space: 100 x 65 mm, 22 lines, ruled in plummet, written in brown ink in a semi-liturgical bookhand.Versal initials throughout alternately dark blue and gold with penwork in red or blue extending in each lower margin, often with grotesques.Three-line illuminated initials throughout, last two gatherings added in the early 14th century with 23 lines, two- to eight-line illuminated initials in colours and burnished gold with ivyleaf extensions. – 16 large miniatures, one large historiated initial on fol. 223. – Lower margin of fol. 223 cut away, first leaves slightly stained and rubbed, slight rubbing to the miniature on fol. 73, mostly in very fine condition. – Late 16th century French (probably Parisian) olive morocco binding, lacking two pairs of ties, joints skilfully renewed, in a red morocco fitted case gilt.
1.Written for a woman. 2.The Hours of the Holy Spirit, added in early 14th century, conclude with an inscription, however, the name was erased (fol. 240v) and replaced with “Antoinette de camouchon religieuse”, prioress in 1614 of the Benedictine abbey of Berteaucourt-les-Dames (diocese of Amiens). 3. Françoise de Henon, François de Henon, Jean de Hamme, and Eugene de Rosny, of Lozembrune. Remained in the same family until its eventual sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 2 December 1987, lot 247. 4. Jaime Ortiz-Patiño Collection; his sale at Sotheby’s, 2 December 1998, lot 1. TEXT: fol. 1-6v: Calendar – fol. 7-145v: Psalter; Litany (fol. 140) – fol. 146-177v: Hours of the Virgin; fol. 156: Lauds (incorporating suffrages); fol. 164v: Prime; fol. 166v:Terce; fol. 169: Sext (lacking first leaf); fol. 170: None; fol. 172:Vespers; fol. 175: Compline – fol. 178-222: Office of the Dead – fol. 197: Memorials; fol. 199: The life of St Margaret; prayers for use by a woman – fol. 223-240: Hours of the Holy Spirit (added); fol. 239v: Gospel sequence from St John. Around the second quarter of the 13th century there began to appear, both in France and in England, books known as ‘psalter-hours’.Ten 13th century psalter-hours are recorded by Leroquais in libraries in France, six of which can be attributed to Paris (Branner 1977).To these must be added the Burdett Psalter-Hours, c. 1282-86.With the possible exception of the former Dyson Perrins ms. 34, this is probably the earliest psalter-hours in private hands. The hours are unusual in incorporating the suffrages between Lauds and Prime, a feature of English books of hours rare in France (Bennett 1996, p. 34, n. 14).
ILLUMINATION: fol. 24v: (a) Visitation, (b) Nativity – fol. 36v: (a) Adoration of the Magi, (b) Presentation – fol. 47: (a) A saint in prison, (b) the ruler dying, the saint consigning his soul into the hands of a devil – fol. 48: (a) Massacre of the Innocents, (b) Flight into Egypt – fol. 59: (a) St Mary Magdalen washing the feet of Christ, (b) St Mary and Martha in discussion with Christ – fol. 73: (a) Raising of Lazarus, (b) Entry into Jerusalem – fol. 86v: (a) Betrayal of Christ, (b) Scourging of Christ – fol. 146: (a) The patroness kneeling before the Virgin, (b) Martyrdom of St Stephen – fol. 156: (a) Martyrdom of St Peter, (b) Martyrdom of St Andrew – fol. 164v: (a) St Nicholas passing bread to three maidens, (b) St Nicholas blessing the three boys – fol. 167: (a) St Martin, (b) a bishop saint blessing and raising to life a monk – fol. 170: (a) St Katherine in her martyrdom, (b) St Katherine being beheaded, (c) angels carrying the body of St Katherine to Mount Sinai – fol. 172: (a) martyrdom of St Agatha, (b) St Agnes is protected by an angel – fol. 175: (a) St Margaret in prison, (b) Martyrdom of St Margaret – fol. l99: (a) St Margaret escaping from the dragon, (b) Martyrdom of St Margaret – fol. 211: (a) the patroness in prayer, (b) Christ with his apostles – fol. 223: Pentecost. The present manuscript, securely attributable to the du Prat workshop, is decorated with unusual oblong miniatures of remarkably high quality. The psalms are illustrated with pictures from the Gospels, the Passion of Christ and from the lives of saints. Passion miniatures are very uncommon in the context of a French psalter. There are some Netherlandish parallels (cf. Haseloff 1938, pl. 18-20), and individual Gospel images can sometimes be matched in French books, such as the Raising of Lazarus (e.g. Fitzwilliam Museum, McClean ms. 41, BL, Harley 2930, and Morgan M 183).The Washing of Christ’s feet and the Scourging are apparently recorded in only one other manuscript, St Omer ms. 270, probably from Tournai. The scenes here are twinned with images of saints, some of which are still unidentified. Such miniatures of saints are so unusual as to suggest a specific commission: four of the miniatures include scenes of saints in prison, and perhaps the patroness had a relative in captivity or was herself in prison. The owner is shown twice in the illuminations here, fol. 146 and 211.The only parallel known to us of saints in the psalm divisions of a psalter-hours is in a manuscript of approximately the same date made in Flanders or Artois for Augustinian nuns (Beaune, ms. 39), but the cycle there is of more general saints and evangelists. The complexity and originality of the pictures in the present book seem to be unique. The du Prat workshop was named by Branner after a bible in Boston, Public Library, ms. 1532. The present manuscript shows all the features of the workshop’s style and is to be associated with the middle and later years of the workshop’s activity. Key manuscripts of this phase are the Boston Bible and others (Branner 1977, pl. 187, 192-193 and 195). The added historiated initial of Pentecost belongs to the early 14th century. It is of magnificent quality, close to the style of Master Honoré himself.
LITERATURE: Sales cat. Drouot, Paris, 2 Dec. 1987, lot 247; sales cat. Sotheby’s, 2 Dec. 1998, lot 1. Haseloff 1938; Leroquais 1940-41; Branner 1977; Bennett 1996, p. 35, n. 24;Avril 1998, nos. 183 and 186.