DOUVILLE HOURS (Use of Amiens); illuminated medieval manuscript with sixteen miniatures painted by an anonymous artist trained in Lorraine
by Catholic Church
A THOROUGHLY ORIGINAL BOOK OF HOURS, THIS CHARMING MANUSCRIPT WAS ALMOST CERTAINLY A MARRIAGE OR BETROTHAL PRESENT FOR THE COUPLE WHO COMMISSIONED IT. Illuminated manuscript on parchment in Latin and French, France, Amiens, c. 1480-1490. 160 x 110 mm. 94 folios on parchment, ruled in red, written in dark brown ink in an angular bâtarde script on 23 lines, 1-line initials in red, blue, and liquid gold, large initials in blue and liquid gold acanthus, scrolled, on red grounds, SIXTEEN LARGE MINIATURES, all with FULL BORDERS, some very unusual, containing flowers, birds, geese, owls, grotesques, some in semi-grisaille. BINDING: Bound by Capé in brown morocco, tooled and stamped with fillets and flowers in the corners, lined with red morocco, edges gilt, boxed. ILLUSTRATION: Densely illuminated with quite a large cycle of miniatures, all surrounded by imaginative borders, our manuscript displays an inventive style, characterized by an expressive use of harmonious, high-key colors and a vigorous manner. Features are outlined in black ink and heightened in liquid gold. Articulated in broad areas of color, the diminutive figures display large eyes and animated gestures. This is probably the work of an artist trained originally in Lorraine, perhaps in Metz, before moving to Picardy where he worked on commission for various families near Amiens. Surely made on the occasion of a marriage or a betrothal, our Book of Hours portrays the couple dressed in the costume of the high bourgeoisie and praying before the Virgin and Child, accompanied by musical angels, at the beginning of a prayer of intercession to the Virgin Mary (f. 28v). A unicorn nestles in the lap of the bride, doubtless a reference to the popular medieval legend that a unicorn can only be captured by a virgin. The unicorn appears three other times, in the margins of this miniature, and in the margins of the miniatures of Saint John on Patmos (f. 9) and the Crucifixion (f. 71). The family's playful motto, "Live joyously and do well," is repeated a number of times in the margins (ff. 28v, 40v, 52). Animals and grotesques also cavort in the margins, including an owl, a monkey riding on an ass, an eagle, a monkey chained to a tree, and many others. PROVENANCE: Made for a Picard couple, probably of the Douville de Maillefeu family, whose motto and emblem (the unicorn) appear throughout the manuscript. It is possible Laurent Douville, échevin of Abbeville in 1474, was the owner of this book; the black robe worn by the patron might be a garment suitable to his office. More recently part of a private collection in France and, subsequently, the James and Elizabeth Ferrell Collection, in the United States. CONDITION: In very fine condition. Full description and photographs available (BOH 124).
(Inventory #: BOH124)
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