1183. [Book of Prayers]
8vo (18,5 x 13,5 cm):  ff., ca. 18 ll. (writing area: 11,5 x 8 cm), on vellum, in French and Latin, written in a fine red and brown "lettre bâtarde" (5 ff. cut out, the two last ff. misbound, 1 f. with two sm. holes in margin, minor soiling, occ. contemp. ms. corrections).
16th-c. brown calf, covers with rectangular and lozenge-shaped frames and leaf tools, spine with raised bands, metal clasps (very sl. rubbed, rebacked, spine repaired). Fresh copy.
Contains: The Mass of St. Gregory, 2 prayers in Latin and French written by 2 later hands, Jean Germain's "Les sept psaumes allegorisees en français", "Obsecro te", "Oratio ad Angelum" and a French prayer to the Virgin Mary.
This manuscript is presumably a large segment of a former "Poenitentiarium". The content of our copy is identical to the second half of a luxurious "Poenitentiarium", opening with a "Vita Christi", made in Hainaut ca. 1510-1520. This manuscript was separated into 2 segments around 1800-1840; one is now in the Royal Library of Denmark (Ms. NkS 50h 8°) and one in the British Library in London (Add.ms. 31838).
Our copy, unrecorded, is the oldest copy preserved of the unpublished "Sept psaumes allégorisés" by Jean Germain (d. 1461), Bishop of Chalon-sur-Saône and first Chancellor of the Order of the Golden Fleece. This text remained anonymous until Bodo Brinkmann discovered its prologue and its rubric in the segment held by the British Library. Erik Drigsdahl made an online facsimile of Germain's "Sept psaumes allégorisés", based on the Danish segment (http://manuscripts.org.uk/chd.dk/nks/add31838.html). In this copy, only four of the seven psalms (31, 37, 50 and 129) survived without lacunae. Ours is more complete.
Decoration: Alternating three- to six-line floriate initials and one- to three-line burnished gold initials, with penwork decoration in the text.
Illumination: Four large miniatures in arched compartments (9 x 8 cm) within full decorated borders (17,5 x 12 cm): Mass of St. Gregory, 3 Gothic interior scenes depicting a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece (the patron of the miniatures?) in praying position and opening psalms 6, 37 and 50. The opening leaves (presumably illuminated) of psalms 31, 101, 129 & 142 and the opening leaf of the "Obsecro te" are missing. The miniatures, initials and borders are in the style of the Ghent-Bruges School, in vogue between 1475 and 1550, and which is characterised by the sumptuousness of the margin decorations, by the richness of the chromatic effects and by the abundance of realistic details.
The illuminator seems to have been active in the wider circle of the Master of James IV of Scotland. This artist seems to be aware of the figure types and compositional models used by the Master of James IV of Scotland such as those appearing in the three Vatican manuscripts, made around the turn of the century (cf. the Mass of St Gregory and the owner’s portrait in Vat. Lat. 3769). The border at psalm 6 belongs to the architectural capriccio border type (and the border accompanying psalm 50 is derived from such a model) favoured by the Master of the David Scenes in the same period.
Ref. Brinkmann, Bodo - Die Flämische Buchmalerei am Ende des Burgunderreichs. Turnhout, Brepols, 1997, pp. 226-233 (contr. ext.). - Jonas. Répertoire des textes et des manuscrits médiévaux d'oc et d'oïl (http://jonas.irht.cnrs.fr/consulter/oeuvre/detail_oeuvre.php?oeuvre=20238). - Luxury Bound. A corpus of manuscripts illustrated in the Netherlands (1400-1550) (http://www.cn-telma.fr//luxury-bound/manuscrit1435/). - As-Vijvers, A.J. - Re-Making the Margin. The Master of the David Scenes and Flemish Manuscript Painting around 1500. Turnhout, Brepols, 2013.
Prov. An unidentified Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece (?). - [Georges Petit].
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