Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures | 06 December 2017
Book of Hours, Use of Rome , in Dutch, illuminated manuscript on parchment...
Sold for £17000
Book of Hours, Use of Rome , in Dutch, illuminated manuscript on parchment [northern Netherlands (probably Utrecht), fifteenth century]
213 leaves (plus 2 parchment endleaves at front and one at back), wanting single leaves (probably once with large initials) and a leaf or so at end, else complete, collation: i8 (including endleaf), ii7 (ii wanting), iii7 (i wanting), iv-vii8, viii7 (iv wanting), ix-xi8, xii3 (iv wanting), xiii-xv8, xvi4, xvii9 (first leaf with large initial a probable singleton), xviii-xxii8, xxiii4, xxiv6, xxv-xxviii8, xxix6, single column of 19 lines of an angular late gothic bookhand, capitals touched in iridescent red, rubrics in same, one-line initials in red or blue (gold and blue in Litany), 2-line initials in same with contrasting penwork extending in parallel lines up and down upright borders with near-abstract coloured flowers and seedpods at head and foot, many borders with parallel penwork extensions horizontally into border adjacent to head and foot of initial, separated by a central flourish of same decoration, thirty-four 4 to 5-line initials in brightly burnished gold on pink and blue grounds, with full decorated border of single-line foliage ending with green leaves, bezants and coloured flowers with large flower buds (some growing from realistic green woody stems), curls of blue and red acanthus leaves and in one place a golden crown, also occasional sprays of same emerging from initial, four very large initials in dark blue with white penwork on brightly burnished gold grounds with notched corners and edges, enclosing sprays of silver and coloured foliage, the corresponding text set within thick coloured bar borders with gold cornerpieces and full borders of oversize sprigs of acanthus with sharp-pointed or thistle-like flowerbuds (some silver, and one with a long trailing pink point), interspersed with rinceaux foliage with green leaves, bezants, diamond-leaf shaped gold ivy-leaves and two realistic birds (fols. 88r, 114r, 148r, 171r), one early inscription “bande in syn hande” on first endleaf, marbled endleaves, small spots and a few wormholes, slightly trimmed at edges with loss of a few mm. to extremities of some decorative penwork, else in outstanding condition, 165 by 115mm.; eighteenth-century mottled calf over pasteboards, gilt tooled with floral rollstamps around a central cabouchon, spine compartments profusely gilt with floral sprays, gilt edge, one corner of front board chipped away, some cracking and scuffing but solid in binding
1. Most probably written and illuminated for a patron who lived in the vicinity of Utrecht: with SS. Suidbert of Kaiserwerdt (1 March; ‘apostle to the Frisians’ who lead a mission to Utrecht), Wiro of Utrecht (8 May) and Odulf, canon of Utrecht (12 June; in red) in Calendar; while SS. Werenfridus van Elst (14 August), and Regenfledis (18 October; venerated in Hönnepel just over German border) suggest some form of ties to the southern border of the Netherlands and Germany.
2. From a German noble collection.
The volume comprises: a Calendar (fol. 1r); the Hours of the Virgin (fol. 14r), Hours of the Cross (fol. 53r); Hours of the Holy Spirit (fol. 87r). followed by other minor hours; Seven Penitential Psalms (fol. 148r) followed by a Litany and prayers; Office of the Dead (fol. 172r).
The large initials here and their decorated text frames and borders indicate that the artists were familiar with the work of the Haarlem Masters, who flourished there from c . 1445-1520 (see J. Marrow, Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting , 1990, pp. 233-43, especially no. IX 82 illustrated on p. 228, noting especially the thin and curling acanthus leaf stems), but their decorated penwork is clearly that of the Delft Masters (ibid. no. XII 109, illustrated p. 264), whose distinctive style seems to dominate devotional books from the north Netherlandish coastline in the last three decades of the fifteenth century.
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