BOOK OF HOURS (Use of Rome); illuminated medieval manuscript on parchment with thirteen large miniatures from the workshop of Willem Vrelant (active in Bruges, 1454-1482)
by Catholic Church
WRITTEN BY A MASTER CALLIGRAPHER AND ILLUMINATED BY ONE OF THE KEY ARTISTS OF THE WORKSHOP OF WILLEM VRELANT, THIS HANDSOME BOOK OF HOURS INCLUDES MANY UNUSUAL FEATURES IN ITS CYCLE OF MINIATURES. Illuminated manuscript on parchment in Latin and Flemish, Southern Netherlands, Bruges (Ghistelles?), c. 1460s. 117 x 90 mm. 167 folios on parchment, lacking five leaves, probably with miniatures, ruled in purple ink, written in a fine formal Gothic bookhand on 14 lines (justification 70 x 50 mm.), numerous elaborate calligraphic cadels, rubrics in red, 1-line initials in gold or blue with contrasting penwork in blue or red, 2-line gold initials on grounds of pink and blue with white tracery, two 6-line foliate initials in colors on a gold ground, accompanied by full borders of semi-naturalistic acanthus and other leaves, flowers and fruit, in gold and colors, THIRTEEN LARGE MINIATURES in arch-topped compartments with full borders in the same style, each above a 3-line illuminated initial. BINDING: Late seventeenth- or early eighteenth-century French calf, sewn on four thongs, gilt paneled spine, edges of leaves flecked with red and blue. ILLUSTRATION: The decoration of this attractive Book of Hours is typical of the work connected with the workshops of Bruges in the third quarter of the fifteenth century and can be associated in particular with the prolific and extremely popular school of Willem Vrelant, one of the most successful illuminators in the Low Countries. Vrelant produced work for some very prestigious patrons, including two dukes of Burgundy. The style of our manuscript derived from contemporary panel painting and relates this manuscript to the center of Vrelant's activity. Among the striking features of our manuscript are the calligraphic flourishes that occur throughout the book, typically found in the most luxurious manuscripts produced by the workshop. The extensive cycle of miniatures points to the book having been made to order, perhaps for a soldier living near Bruges. It includes many unusual features, such as the use of subjects from the Passion to illustrate the Hours of the Virgin and the presence of soldier-saints like Adrian and George. PROVENANCE: Produced in Bruges, the main center of Flemish book production in the later fifteenth century. The inclusion of some unusual saints in the calendar suggests that this manuscript was made for an owner in nearby Ghistel, possibly a member of the aristocrat Ghistelles family. More recently, part of a private European collection. CONDITION: Occasional slight rubbing or spotting, a few minor old repairs or reinforcements, but otherwise in fine condition. Binding rubbed, spine and corners worn, but overall in sound condition. Full description and photographs available (BOH 118).
(Inventory #: BOH118)
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