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Book of Hours, Use of Rouen, in Latin and French, illuminated by an associate of the artist Robert Boyvin, manuscript on vellum
[Northern France (doubtless Rouen)
c. 1500]
€40.000 - €60.000

185 by 125mm, 69 leaves (including blank endleaf at back; and plus an original vellum endleaf at front and two at the back), wanting two single leaves, else complete, collation: i6, ii8, iii8, iv6, v9 (first leaf a cancelled blank, two single leaves wanting from before last and last-but-one leaves), vi8, vii8, vii10 (last two leaves cancelled blank), ix6, written in double column of 25 lines of a rounded and squat lettre bâtarde (blue, red and gold ink used for same in Calendar), capitals touched in pale yellow, one-line initials in liquid gold on blue or burgundy grounds, larger initials in prays of white acanthus leaves with coloured foliage on dull gold grounds, every text leaf with a decorated border panel of stylised acanthus leaf sprays and other foliage on dull gold grounds (many with detailed birds, a butterfly, dragon-like drollery creatures and a partly-erased rat or monkey at their outer midpoints) or less frequently gold and coloured stylised foliage or architectural forms and jewels on blue grounds flecked with gold, these borders extending at their heads and feet into coloured frames enclosing the entire text block of each page as well as filling the gutters between the columns, the Calendar with full borders of same enclosing the signs of the zodiac and the occupations of the months, eleven full-page rectangular miniatures by an associate of the artist Robert Boyvin (working within 'group II' of his oeuvre: see below), small chips and scuffs in places, small spots and stains, earlier ex libris marks and bookplates removed from front pastedown, but overall in notably fresh condition ; eighteenth-century binding of brown morocco, profusely gilt with concentric frames of palm frond panel stamps around a floral oval cabouchon on each board, and bands of similar stacked up horizontally on spine, old splits to spine (skilfully repaired), small bumps and scuffs to edges, overall in good and solid condition. Illumination: Robert Boyvin was one of the most influential French illuminators of the last decades of the fifteenth century and the opening decades of the sixteenth century. He was certainly active from c. 1487 to 1535, and came from a family of illuminators and booksellers, most probably being apprenticed himself to the Maitre de l'Echenvinage. Later he worked for the Cardinal d'Amboise and his circle, and in his mature years maintained a large group of collaborators and associates. The present volume falls into the specifications and artistic forms of L. Delauney's group II of the workshop's output ('L'oeuvre de Robert Boyvin' in Annales de Normandie 45, 1995, pp. 211-244), and this dates the work to 1495-1503. The large miniatures here comprise: (1) fol. 7r, St. John seated on Patmos writing his Gospel in a book as God the Father and his attribute, the eagle, look on, all within a realistic dull-gold frame; (2 & 3) fols. 14v and 15r, two facing miniatures with the Annunciation to the Virgin, with her in an opulent interior, reading from a book as the Holy Spirit descends and the angel appears in the facing miniature, both within dull-gold ornamental columns; (4) fol. 20v, the meeting of the Virgin and St. Elisabeth, within a realistic dull-gold frame; (5) fol. 26r, the Nativity, with attendants praying or raising their hands in wonderment, all within a realistic dull-gold frame; (6) fol. 29r, the Annunciation to the Shepherds, who all gaze skywards as an angel appears to them, within a realistic dull-gold frame; (7) fol. 31v, the Adoration of the Magi, within a realistic dull-gold frame; (8) fol. 33v, the Presentation in the Temple, within a realistic dull-gold frame; (9) fol. 39r, David and Abigail, with David on horseback and Abigail kneeling, the figures marked out in gold gothic letters, within a realistic dull-gold frame edged in red; (10) fol. 48r, Lazarus and the Rich Man, with Lazarus deferentially approaching with his hat off, as a dog licks his naked foot, and the rich man in a fine white hat sits at a table with his wife eating bread and a roasted bird, within a realistic dull-gold frame; (11) the Virgin and Child, enthroned and beneath a red baldachin, with angels behind them and to the left, and the original patrons of this book to the right, all within a realistic dull-gold frame

Provenance: 1. Written and illuminated in Rouen in the years between 1495 and 1503 for the young couple who are shown in adoration of the Virgin and Child in the miniature on fol. 65r, with him standing in red and grey robes offering an object to the Child, while his wife kneels in prayer, in red robes with white cuffs and a black headdress and with a tiny and delicate gold cross around her neck. 2. Henry White (1822-1900) of Queen's Gate, London, judge and substantial bibliophile: his posthumous sale at Sotheby's, 21 April 1902, lot 1144. 3. Théophile Belin (1851-1921), Parisian bookseller: his catalogue 'Catalogue d'un joli choix de livres rares & précieux' for 1906, no. 18. 4. Carlo de Poortere (1917-2002), Belgian industrialist, obtained from Lardanchet. Text: This volume comprises a Calender (fol. 1r); the Passion Readings (fol. 7v); the Obsecro te and O intemerata (fol. 10r; in male form); the Hours of the Virgin, with Matins (fol. 15v), Lauds (fol. 21r), Prime (fol. 27v), Terce (fol. 29v); Sext (fol. 32r); Nones (fol. 34r), Vespers (fol. 36r; wants opening), and Compline (fol. 37r; wants opening); the Seven Penitential Psalms (fol. 39v), with a Litany of Saints; the Office of the Dead (fol. 48v), followed by the Suffrages to the Saints, the Missus est Gabriel and another short prayer