1136. [Book of Hours - Delft]
8vo (17 x 12 cm):  ff. (mod. foliation), on vellum, in Dutch, written in a black and red textura, writting area: 9,5 x 6,5 cm, 19 ll. (sl. spotting).
Blindstamped 19th-c. sheepskin imitation of medieval binding, bevelled wooden boards, brass catches and clasps, spine with raised bands, a.e.g., gauffered edges (turn-ins, joints and covers sl. rubbed, sm. scratches on covers). Very nice copy.
Hours in the Dutch translation by Geert Grote (1340-1384), promotor of the movement of the Devotio Moderna which was encouraging a return to a more intimate religious practice, a personal and daily dedication to Jesus Christ.
Contains: Calendar, Hours of the Virgin ("Ghetiden van onser liever vrouwen"), Hours of the Eternal Wisdom ("Ghetiden van der ewigher wijsheit"), Hours of the Holy Ghost ("Ghetiden va[n] den heylighen gheest"), Short Hours of the Cross ("Corte cruus ghetide"), Hours of All Saints ("Ghetide van allen heilighen"), Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ("Die seven salwe[n] van penitentien"), Office of the Dead ("Die langhe vigile van neghen lesse voor die sielen").
Decoration: Fully illuminated and alternating one- or two-line red or blue initials, three-line pen-flourished blue initials with large branches in the margins, capitals touched in red.
Illumination: Seven large miniatures in arched compartments (10,5 x 6,5 cm) within full decorated borders (13,5 x 10,5 cm): The Annunciation (in a Gothic interior with a red canopy above the Virgin), Christ among the Doctors (in a Gothic interior with priests on stalls, under a canopy), the Pentecost (in a Gothic interior with the Virgin standing and the 12 Apostles sitting on benches), the Crucifixion (in a landscape), Coronation of the Virgin (with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in Gothic stalls staffed by angels above all saints), the Last Judgment (in a landscape with a bleeding Christ, two angels, and Mary and Joseph), and Saint Michael Weighing Souls (under a Gothic baldacchino while killing Satan and with an atmospheric landscape). Pages facing these large miniatures also have full borders, decorated with a six- or eight-line blue floral initial heightened with gold foil and liquid gold, except fol. [135r] decorated with a five-line blue and red floral initial with red and blue pen-flourish decoration extending into margins.
Localisation: The border decoration is completely characteristic of Delft, both found on the decorated text pages and on the miniature leaves (the latter decorative style is known by the untranslatable word "kriezel" style, from Dutch "kriezelig", which means "scratchy"). Pen-flourish decoration of fine and intricate red and blue ink flourishes found in this manuscript is a totally reliable indicator that it was written and decorated in Delft. The written pages, the simple painted initials in red or blue, and the intricate blue and red pen-flourishes on these text leaves were all produced in Delft, in one of the convents there, which specialised in writing and decorating manuscripts for sale. According to Kathryn Rudy, the fact that St. Ursula is cited first in the lists of Virgins in Litanies of Saints suggests that this book would have been written at St. Ursula's convent² in Delft (Klooster Sint-Ursula). The manuscript was then entrusted to more skilled illuminators to decorate most of the leaves beginning major new texts. The miniatures were all purchased separately, almost certainly from lay or secular miniaturists in Delft rather than from monastic craftsmen.The full-page miniatures were inserted after. The miniatures as well as some of the painted figures in the margins on these pages were made by one of the Masters of the Delft Half-Length Figures, who appear to have been the dominant figures in the production of luxurious illustrated manuscripts in Delft from ca. 1450-1480. The name-of-convenience given to these group of miniaturists is based on the prominent use of half-length figures of saints, angels, and prophets and the like that are frequently found in the middle of the margins of the miniature leaves and sometime also the richly decorated text leaves in this style. In most cases, the figures are shown emerging from stylized cloud banks, with gold foils in our manuscript (blue in some others). Another feature characteristic of this miniaturist is the bushy hair seen in some figures. The miniatures are close to those in the Cambridge manuscript of the "Bonaventura-Ludolfiaanse Leven van Jezus" (Fitzwilliam Museum, Ms. 25), which was made ca. 1480 for Beatrijs van Assendelft and attributed to the miniaturist known as the Master of Beatrijs van Assendelft's Leven van Jezus. Our manuscript also distinguishes from others made in Delft by the presence of a decoration with gold foils in the corners of the arched compartments of the miniature. It should be considered as one of the finest works by Delft painters on account of the extremely fine colouration and the mise-en-scene of the miniatures.
The Calendar is for the use of the diocese of Utrecht and the town of Delft with three specific entries in red that help to further localise the manuscript to Delft: on 17 August, St. Ieroen (or Jeroen) who was venerated particularly in the county of Holland; the other two red entries that point particularly to Delft are that of St. Hippolitus on 13 August, patron saint of one of the major churches of Delft, and the feast of St. Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins on 21 October, patrons of one of the other two major churches in Delft.
Our manuscript also bears a 16th-c. ownership entry of the Sint-Agathaklooster in Delft ("Synte achten te delff hoort E. M. [of W]"). This convent was founded in the beginning of the 15th century and after the Reformation became the famous "Prinsenhof" where William the Silent was murdered in 1584.
Ref. The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting, pp. 187, 194, cat. n. 57, 196-197, cat. n. 59-60. - Rudy, K. M. - "Boston Public Library MS q Med. 86 in the Context of Manuscript Production in Delft", in Beyond Words: New Research on Manuscripts in Boston Collections, ed. J. F. Hamburger, et alii. Toronto, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2021, pp. 35-58. - Monasticon Batavium, I:51-52.
Prov. Sint-Agathaklooster, Delft (ms. entry, 16th c). - Unidentified possessor E. M. [of W?]. - [H. Howard Hill] (sale at Sotheby's, London, 10 November 1930, lot 1029). - Sold by Gumuchian & Cie, Paris, 1931 (Catalogue XIV, lot 2). - [Georges Petit].
We thank Professor James H. Marrow for his kind help in preparing this entry.
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