A luxurious manuscript for private devotion
20 Book of hours for the use of Rome, with calendar of Bruges215 x 145 mm. 242 leaves (of 246, lacks 4 miniatures): I6, II6+1, III6+1, IV-V8,VI6+1,VII-IX8, X2+1, XI8-1, XII-XVI8, XVII8-1, XVIII8, XIX8-1, XX4, XXI8, XXI2+1, XXIII8, XXIV2, XXV-XXVI8, XXVII6, XXVIII8, XXIX2, XXX8-1, XXXI-XXXIV8, XXXV4, XXXVI3. Some catchwords visible, sporadic modern pencil foliation. Final leaf blank. – Written space: 115 x 75 mm, 17 lines, ruled in pale red.Text in Latin,Textualis Formata in dark brown ink, versals touched in yellow. Lombards and line-fillers in gold on red and blue ground with tracery throughout. – Decoration of outer margin of many pages, 24 calendar vignettes, 15 seven-line historiated initials with exquisite full borders of hairline stems with gold ivyleaves decorated with flowers and fruits, 15 large miniatures above an illuminated initial and 6 lines of text, surrounded by full borders of coloured acanthus leaves and flowers, some enriched with angels and vases. – Wide-margined and well preserved. Fol. 13, 70v, 164r/v, 186r/v and 239-241 contain later, presumably 17th-century entries, notes on the provenance and additional prayers. – Bound in 19th-century dark red morocco, covers blind-tooled, turn-ins gilt, silk doublures, additional vellum flyleaves, edges gilt. Head and tail of spine restored, joints strengthened. In a brown cloth box with label.
PROVENANCE: 1. From the library of Jean de Saulx, Viscount de Tavannes (1555-1630), knight of honour at the Parliament of Dijon, son of Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes, Maréchal de France (cf. provenance leaves fol. 13 and 141v). 2. Private collection USA.
TEXT: fol. 1-12: Calendar – fol. 13: Provenance leaf with names and birthdays of all four children of Jean de Saulx de Tavannes and Katherine Chabot – fol. 14-64: Hours for each day of the week: fol. 14: Hours of the Trinity (Sunday) – fol. 21: Hours of the Dead (Monday) – fol. 30: Hours of the Holy Spirit (Tuesday) – fol. 36: Hours of All Saints (Wednesday) – fol. 42: Hours of the Sacrament (Thursday) – fol. 49: Hours of the Cross (Friday) – fol. 57: Short Hours of the Virgin (Saturday) – fol. 65-70: Mass of the Virgin – fol. 71-77: Hours of St Katherine – fol. 78-82: Gospel readings – fol. 83-143: Office of the Virgin (use of Rome) – fol. 144-154:Variations to be prayed throughout the year – fol. 155-164: “Obsecro te”, “O intemerata”, Seven Joys of the Virgin – fol. 165-186: Penitential psalms with litany and prayers – fol. 187-196: Suffrages – fol. 197-238: Office of the Dead (use of Rome) – fol. 239-241: Additional texts by different scribes: fol. 139: (by an Italian scribe?):Two prayers to St Raphael – fol. 140: Prayers beginning with a verse from Psalm 12 – fol. 141v: Provenance leaf (in French, ca. 1609), probably in the hand of Gabrielle Desprez de Monpezat (d. 1653), 2nd wife of Jean de Saulx-Tavannes, recording names and birthdays of seven of their ten children. The calendar indicates Bruges usage, as is attested by the red entries of Donatian, patron saint of Bruges (14 October and 30 August) and Basil whose relics were venerated in the church of St Basil at Bruges, now the Chapel of the Holy Blood (14 June). Among the entries in black those characteristic of Bruges include Landoald (19 March and 10 June) and Walburgis, (6 August and 4 May). Other entries associated with neighbouring towns or dioceses include: St Gudule of Brussels (8 January); Eleutherius (20 February) and Piat of Tournai (translation 29 October); Ursmar (April 18), Gaugericus (11 August) and Winnoc of Cambrai (5 November); Gondolphus (16 July) and Remaclus of Liège (3 September); Rumoldus of Malines (26 October) and Gudewaldus (6 June) whose relics were venerated in Ghent.
ILLUMINATION: fol. 1-12: 24 small vignettes for the calendar depicting the signs of the zodiac and the labours of the months. Large miniatures: fol. 14: Trinity: God enthroned holding Christ on the Cross (“Gnadenstuhl”) – fol. 21: Raising of Lazarus – fol. 30: Descent of the Holy Spirit – fol. 36: All Saints – fol. 42: An assembly of lay people (including the family of the original owner?) praying before a monstrance – fol. 49: Crucifixion – fol. 57:Virgin with Child on a crescent moon – fol. 65: Virgin and Child enthroned flanked by angels playing music – fol. 83: Annunciation – fol. 101:Visitation – fol. 113: Nativity – fol. 118:Annunciation to the Shepherds – fol. 126: Presentation in the Temple – fol. 131: Massacre of the Innocent – fol. 165: David in prayer before God. Lacking miniatures of St Katherine (before fol. 71), the Adoration of the Magi (after fol. 122), the Coronation of the Virgin (after fol. 138), and the Office of the Dead (before fol. 197). Historiated initials: fol. 187: St Michael – fol. 187v: St John the Baptist – fol. 188: St Peter – fol. 188v: St Christopher – fol. 189v: St Sebastian – fol. 190v: St George – fol. 191v: St Nicolas – fol. 192: St Anthony – fol. 192v: St Francis – fol. 193: St Anne with the Virgin and Child – fol. 193v: St Mary Magdalen – fol. 194v: St Margaret – fol. 195: St Barbara – fol. 195v: St Clare – fol. 196: St Apollonia. The codex is remarkable for its luxurious decoration including a fully illustrated calendar, a cycle of large miniatures and a series of historiated initials in which the artist’s finesse becomes especially evident.The author of the illumination has been identified as the Master of Buchanan E. 5, named after the eponymous manuscript in the Bodleain Library in Oxford (Kidd 2001 with a list of works by the master and attributions by Gregory Clark; Pächt/Alexander 1969, vol. 1, no. 329, pl. XXVI). This outstanding artist was active in Bruges around 1450 and thus is a contemporary of Willem Vrelant, the most prolific illuminator in Bruges at this time (Bousmanne 1997). However, the quality of the illumination in our codex exceeds that of many works by the great master, whose style became somewhat repetitive and stiff as the output of his workshop increased. Although our artist draws mainly on compositions current in the vicinity of Vrelant, his miniatures preserve a certain individuality. For the delicately rendered initials, one may further compare the Llangattock Hours (Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, ms. Ludwig IX 7, cf. Euw/Plotzek 1982, vol. 2, pp. 115-141) where the cycle of initials as well as the Annunciation to the Shepherds, due to a talented associate of Vrelant, display similar stylistic tendencies.
LITERATURE: The manuscript is hitherto unpublished. Euw/Plotzek 1982, vol. 2; Pächt/Alexander 1969, vol. 1; Bousmanne 1997; Kidd 2001.