BOOK OF HOURS (Use of Sarum); illuminated manuscript on parchment with eight miniatures by the Masters of Otto van Mordrecht (signed with stenciled “b”)
by Catholic Church
ONE OF A SMALL NUMBER OF BOOKS OF HOURS WITH MINIATURES SIGNED BY THE ILLUMINATOR WITH SMALL STENCILLED INITIALS, THIS WAS MADE FOR EXPORT TO ENGLAND WHERE IT WAS OWNED BY TWO SISTERS ISABEL AND JANE OVRAY. Illuminated manuscript on parchment in Latin with some Middle English, Southern Netherlands, likely Bruges, c. 1430 to before 1449, 116 folios, 150 x 103 mm., complete, written in a gothic bookhand, 1-line initials alternately burnished gold and blue, 2- to 4-line burnished gold initials on pink and blue grounds, eleven 4- to 7-line illuminated initials on burnished gold grounds, in pink and blue with infill of blue, pink and orange foliage, with borders with narrow burnished gold bars, sprays of pink, blue and orange flowers at the corners, and fine black-line foliage with burnished gold leaves and pink, blue and orange flowers, EIGHT FULL-PAGE MINIATURES with full borders in the same style. BINDING: Late-seventeenth century brown calf binding, boxed. ILLUSTRATION: This is an important Book of Hours illuminated by the Master(s) of Otto van Moerdrecht (fl. c. 1420-50) with each miniature stamped with a small gothic letter 'b' in white in a red circle just outside the upper right-hand corner of the frames. These marks were related them to Bruges guild regulations of 1426 requiring illuminators to register and acquire a permit to paint miniatures for books, thus limiting the production of miniatures to authorised locally registered miniaturists. The only surviving groups of miniatures with this type of stamped marks are in the present distinctively northern Netherlandish style. These artists presumably marked their miniatures precisely because their style is so unlike that of native Bruges painters, and their work could easily have been mistaken for undesirable illegal imports from the North. The use of a cycle of the story of the Passion to illustrate the Hours of the Virgin is unusual in Books of Hours from the Southern Netherlands, but is typical of northern Netherlandish books produced in the milieu of the Devotio Moderna, a reform movement within the Catholic Church much interested in the suffering during the Passion of Christ as a model for human devotion. The subjects of the 8 full-page miniatures are: f. 7v, Agony in the Garden; f. 16v, Betrayal of Christ; f. 31v, Christ before Pilate; f. 36v, Flagellation; f. 40v, Way to Calvary; f. 47v, Crucifixion; f. 50v, Entombment; f. 56v, Last Judgement. PROVENANCE: Written and illuminated in Bruges for English use. The Hours of the Virgin are Use of Sarum, and the Calendar and litany includes English saints. In England by 1449, when an erased motto and the date, and notes in Middle English for calculating the dates of Lent, Easter, Rogation Day, etc. were added on one of the blank leaves at the end (f. 113v). A sixteenth-century hand also added prayers in Middle English and Latin to be said at Grace on Easter Eve, Easter Day afternoon and after dinner of Easter Day (ff. 114v and 115). Owned in the Middle Ages by the Ovray family, when two children, Jane Ovray and Isabel Ovray, inscribed their names with a heart (f. 116). Sir Henry Lawson (d. 1834), of Brough Hall, in the County of York, sixth and last Baronet; late eighteenth-century engraved armorial bookplate inside front cover. James and Elizabeth Ferrell Collection. CONDITION: some rubbing of initials and miniatures, staining and darkening of vellum especially in the calendar, some thumbing and general signs of use. Full description and photographs available (BOH 128).
(Inventory #: BOH128)
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