The only example of a Dutch illuminated psalter-hours known so far
19 Book of hours and psalter in DutchManuscript on vellum, illuminated by the Master of the Haarlem Bible, Masters of Otto van Moerdrecht, Masters of Gijsbrecht van Brederode et al. Northern Netherlands, Haarlem, dated 1453.
c. 158 x 116 mm. 317 leaves (of probably 329), foliated a, 1-254, 254bis-315. Miniatures on inserted singletons: I8-1, II8-1, III2+1, IV12+1,V12,VI4-2,VII12,VIII12+1, IX12+1, X-XI12, XII12+5, XIII-XV12, XVI4, XVII8, XVIII12+1-5, XIX12+1, XX12+1, XXI12+1, XXII12+1, XXIII12+1, XXIV12+1, XXV10+2, XXVI14-1, XXVII12+1, XXVIII12-1, XXIX6+1. – Written space: c. 100 x 63 mm, ruled in red for 24 lines.The added leaf, fol. 315, ruled faintly in black for 27 lines.Written in Textualis Formata, some sections rewritten or corrected, red rubrics, fol. 16 rubrics in red and blue, capitals stroked in red. One- to two-line initials in red and blue, three- to four-line initials with elaborate polychrome pen-flourish, seven- to eleven-line initials enclosing foliage and flowers, pen-flourishes of initials often extend along left margin, elaborated occasionally into foliage and faces. 6 historiated initials. 5 full-page miniatures with full borders of varying decoration: ink sprays with gold petals and foliage, sometimes including angels. – 16th-century German or Dutch calf over wooden boards, gilt tooling: rectangular panel in an elaborately cartouched frame with a central oval of Venus led by Amor, outer frame of rolls alternating figures of Christ child holding a cross and orb, and of putti with foliage or a foliate crown; spine gilt in 6 panels, edges gilt. Front cover and spine slightly worn, catches and clasps missing. In a modern drop back box.
PROVENANCE: 1. Made for a woman (a nun?) shown in prayer on fol. 97. Her arms are visible on fol. 17v despite later over-painting. Thierry de Bye Dolleman, specialist in the genealogy and heraldry of Haarlem and its region, identified them as belonging to the Bout family of Amsterdam. 2. Inscriptions of two 15th- or early 16th-century owners on fol. av: “katheryn pieters dochter,” and “katherijn ysbrants dochter.”Another note dated 1540 on fol. 315v names Willem van [ ]erckenne. 3.William Bragge of Birmingham (1823-84), engineer, bibliophile, and Mayor of Sheffield (his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 7-10 June 1876, lot 470). 4. Lyon, private collection (sale, Lyon-Brotteaux, 28 February 1989, lot 492).
TEXT: fol. a: Ownership notes – fol. 1-12v: Calendar of Utrecht. Entries in red:“Sinte aelbrecht confessoir” (25 June), “Sinte ieroen” (17 August), especially venerated in Holland; “Sinte bave confessoir” (1 October), patron of the principal church of Haarlem – fol. 13-16v: Computistic tables and wheel showing oppositions of sun and moon, with an Almanach from 1453 to 1550 – fol. 18-44v: Hours of the Virgin – fol. 45-60v: Hours of the Eternal Wisdom – fol. 62- 78v: Long Hours of the Cross – fol. 80-96v: Long Hours of the Holy Spirit – fol. 97-113: Hours of All Saints – fol. 113- 115v: Prayers for Communion – fol. 115v-117: Prayer to God, attributed to Thomas Aquinas – fol. 117-118v: Suffrages to St Michael, All Angels and a Guardian Angel – fol. 120- 134v: Penitential psalms and Litany – fol. 135-163v: Office of the Dead – fol. 164-171v: Prayers for Communion – fol. 173- 307v: Liturgical psalter – fol. 307v-311v: In Praise of the psalms, attributed to St Augustine – fol. 311v-314v: Prayers to Mary – fol. 315: Preface to the psalter, for the Souls of the Dead. This manuscript is of high textual importance, for in addition to a full text of the Hours of the Virgin it contains an illustrated psalter. Illustrated psalters are a noteworthy rarity in the northern Netherlands, none having been known to Byvanck and Hoogewerff when they published their corpus of Dutch illuminated manuscripts (Byvanck/Hoogewerff 1922-25), and only a few having been discovered subsequently (Marrow 1987, vol. 1, p. 269). In addition, cf. the leaves from an unpublished choir psalter with historiated initials by the Master of the Haarlem Bible (Munich, Staatl. Graphische Sammlung, Inv. nos. 40041-40045), and a psalter in Philadelphia (Free Library, Lewis Coll., ms. E 183). Combined psalters-hours had some currency in English, French and Flemish manuscript illumination (Bennet 2004, pp. 218-219), but the present codex so far is the only illustrated example known in the tradition of Dutch illumination.
ILLUMINATION: Full-page miniatures: fol. 17v: Annunciation – fol. 61v: Crucifixion – fol. 79v:Pentecost – fol. 119v: Last Judgement – fol. 172v: David beheading Goliath. Historiated initials: fol. 18:Apocalyptic Madonna and Child – fol. 62: Man of Sorrows – fol. 80: St Veronica – fol. 97: Christ holding the orb and blessing a nun – fol. 120: David playing the psaltery – fol. 173: David kneeling playing the psaltery. The core of the manuscript, including all six historiated initials and the miniature of the Last Judgement, was illustrated by the Master of the Haarlem Bible. Named for his contributions to a three-volume bible made for use and still kept in Haarlem, he was a leading illuminator in Haarlem between c. 1445 and 1475 (exh. cat. Utrecht/New York 1989/1990, nos. 75-78, pp. 233-238, see also, no. 76 and 78). The remaining miniatures are the works of three different artists. They differ in layout and border decoration, which suggests that they were purchased on the open market for insertion into the book.The Crucifixion and Pentecost are attributable to one of the best of the so-called Masters of Otto van Moerdrecht, here distinguished through their brightly coloured forms rather than the dark, even muddy colours found in many works in the style (exh. cat. Utrecht/New York 1989/1990, no. 36, pp. 75-86 and 112-115). Both have arched tops and backgrounds of brilliant burnished gold, embellished with tooling. The miniatures of the Annunciation and David beheading Goliath have similar borders, but differ in their size and frames. The dramatic scene of David beheading Goliath, painted with rich use of silver, is by a distinctive but otherwise unknown artist. The Annunciation is due to one of the Masters of Gijsbrecht van Brederode, as is the border decoration of this and the afore-mentioned miniature. The facial types of the figures can be compared with the Annunciation in a book of hours in Boston (Boston College, John J. Burns Library, ms. 86- 93, fol. 13v; exh. cat. Boston 2000, no. 33, pp. 80-81).
LITERATURE: Sales cat. Sotheby’s, 7-10 June 1876, lot 470; sales cat. Lyon-Brotteaux, 28 Feb. 1989, p. 93, lot 492. Byvanck/Hoogewerff 1922-25; Marrow 1989; exh. cat. Utrecht/New York 1989/1990; exh. cat. Boston 2000, no. 31; Bennett 2004.