Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus (active 1430-1450)
Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus (active 1430-1450) Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Anjou or Le Mans, c.1440s] A superlative work of illumination by an enigmatic Master employed at the court of Anjou: complete and in pristine condition, the present manuscript – with its astonishing... moreMaster of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus (active 1430-1450)
Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Anjou or Le Mans, c.1440s]
A superlative work of illumination by an enigmatic Master employed at the court of Anjou: complete and in pristine condition, the present manuscript – with its astonishing, sumptuous miniatures and brilliant borders lavishly decorated in gold and silver – is a testament to the wealth and discernment of its original owners.
208 x 150mm. iii + 189 + iv leaves, complete, collation: 1-26, 3-68, 74, 8-128, 136, 14-178, 186, 19-258, 261. 15 lines, ruled space: 111 x 72mm, rubrics in red, line-fillers in red, blue and liquid gold, illuminated initials throughout, each page with two-sided borders of acanthus sprays and foliage lavishly illuminated in silver and gold, 16 large miniatures and 4 historiated initials within full acanthus borders sometimes inhabited by angels, musicians, dancers, monkeys and peacocks, 12 calendar miniatures with the occupations of the month. 19th-century black shagreen, silver clasps. Burgundy cloth slipcase and quarter-morooco box, gilt title on spine.
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel extracts ff.13-20; Hours of the Virgin, use of Paris, ff.21-86v: matins f.21, lauds f.43, prime f.54v, terce f.60v, sext 65, none 69v, vespers f.74, compline f.81v; Obsecro te ff.87-90v; O intemerata ff.90v-94v; Penitential psalms and litany ff.95-114v; Hours of the Cross ff.115-118v; Hours of the Holy Spirit ff.119-122; Office of the Dead, use of Paris, ff.122v-168v; Suffrages ff.169-180v, Doulce Dame ff.181-185v; Five Wounds of Christ ff.186-189v.
The extent of decoration, the variety and ingenuity of border forms, the richness of colour and the delicacy of execution combine to make this an exceptionally opulent and beguiling manuscript. This masterpiece of illumination is the best and most richly illuminated work of the Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus, an enigmatic artist named after a Livre de la propriété des choses by Bartholomeus Anglicus in Paris (BnF, Fr. 135). His manuscript oeuvre was assembled by Eberhard König, who dubbed him the 'October Master', identifying him, erroneously, as the illuminator responsible for the October miniature begun by the Limbourg brothers in the Très Riches Heures (the artist responsible for the October miniature is now commonly thought to be Barthélemy d’Eyck), and later again as the embroiderer and painter to René, Duke of Anjou, Pierre Billant (see E. König, Das Liebentbrannte Herz: Der Wiener Codex und der Maler Barthélemy d’Eyck, 1996, pp.83-86). Academic consensus places the artist’s activity in western France, under the patronage of the Anjou court.
Among the artist’s attributed works are two copies of the Livre de consolation by Boethius (one in St Petersburg, Hermitage Museum, ms. 14035, and one in Vienna, Österr. Nationalbibl. Cod. 2653, with one miniature from this latter manuscript now at the Louvre, département des Arts graphiques, Inv. 9838). Nicole Reynaud has further attributed to him the portraits of the patrons in the Falconry section of the Devonshire Hunting Tapestry (London, Victoria and Albert Museum, T.202-1957); the cartoons of the Anjou donors in the stained glass windows in the north transept of the cathedral at Le Mans (for these see also F. Gatouillat, ‘Les vitraux du bras nord du transept de la cathédrale du Mans et les relations franco-anglaises à la fin de la guerre de Cent Ans’, Bulletin monumental, 2003, 161-4, pp.307-324); and a dramatic fresco at the Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo, considered today to be one of the most representative works of late Gothic painting in Italy and likely painted under the commission of René d’Anjou in Naples (see N. Reynaud, ‘Le Triomphe de la Mort de Palerme: rencontre franco-italienne au milieu du XVe siècle ?’, Hommage à Michel Laclotte. Études sur la peinture du Moyen Âge et de la Renaissance, 1994, pp.132-151).
As John Plummer notes in The Last Flowering, the Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus is a splendid colourist, combining strongly saturated hues and brilliant gold with subtle mauves, lavenders and greens: ‘his powerful drawing imparts to his figures a bodily vigor, a decisiveness of action, and a rotundity of volume that are exceptional in contemporary painting’ (p.25). He brings a painterly drama to his vibrant compositions: we find the same angular, geometric, exaggeratedly expressive figures in his representation of the dukes of Anjou in the Cathedral at Le Mans, and in the dynamic, Guernican ‘Triumph of Death’ in Palermo (compare for example the figure of the harp-playing young man in the borders of f.95 to the lute-playing nobleman in the fresco). The miniatures are further brought to life by the astonishing borders, which are a development of the decorative programme introduced into western France by the Master of Marguerite d’Orléans, named from the Countess of Etampes’ Book of Hours (Paris, BnF ms lat. 1156B), examples of which we also see in lots 4 and 5. These border motifs were subsequently adopted by the Jouvenel Master, named from the Mare historiarum of the Chancellor of France, Guillaume Jouvenel des Ursins (Paris, BnF, ms lat. 4915). Particularly astonishing is the lavish use of silver, which survives entirely unoxidised. The St Petersburg Boethius has the same borders with spiky acanthus leaves tipped in green and silver, but on a much less elaborate scale.
König has suggested that it was perhaps the Bartholomeus Anglicus Master who was responsible for both the border extensions in the exquisite Hachette Hours (see Heribert Tenschert, Paris mon Amour I-II, catalogue no 80) and in an Hours in Milan by the Munich Golden Legend Master (Bibl.Trivulziana ms 2164). This is a tantalising proposition, reinforced perhaps by the fact that the Bartholomeus Anglicus Master replicates the miniature with St Michael saving the soul found in the Hachette Hours (f.178) almost identically in the present manuscript.
The subjects of the large miniatures are as follows: St John on Patmos, writing his Gospel on a scroll of liquid gold, his eagle beside him f.13; St Luke writing his Gospel, dressed in a richly patterned robe of red and liquid gold, his winged ox behind him f.15; St Matthew, holding his pen up to the sky and seated on a gold throne, his angel holding his Gospel f.17; St Mark writing his Gospel, his lion beside him f.19; Annunciation, with extraordinary borders inhabited by angels in prayer and angels holding silver scrolls, an overpainted gold shield in the lower margin f.21; Visitation f.43; Nativity f.54; Annunciation to the shepherds f.60v; Adoration of the Magi f.65; Presentation in the Temple f.69v; Flight into Egypt f.74; Coronation of the Virgin f.81v; David in prayer, his golden harp and his rebec lying nearby, the borders with scrolling purple, silver and gold acanthus inhabited by a turbaned harpist and two dancers, with an overpainted gold shield in the lower margin f.95; Crucifixion f.115; Pentecost, the borders inhabited by two peacocks and a monkey f.119; Battle for the Soul, with St Michael rescuing from the devil the soul of a corpse in a cemetery f.122v.
The subjects of the small miniatures are as follows: Virgin and Child f.87; Pietà f.90v; Patron before the Virgin and Child f.181; Trinity f.186.
(1) Made for the man wearing a purple robe trimmed with gold depicted kneeling before the Virgin and Child on f.181. Coats of arms appear twice in the manuscript (ff. 21 and 95) but have been very carefully (almost certainly in medieval times) overpainted in gold. The charges are barely visible: the first was of three objects, within a border; the second had a castellated chief and spots of red are visible. The calendar is mainly Parisian, but with Julian of Le Mans in gold (27 January). Maurus and Gatian in the suffrages indicate a localisation south of the Loire, while the double invocation of Julian and the inclusion of Corentinus point to Le Mans.
(2) Late 18th-century inscription in ink f.i, and a very faded pencil inscription perhaps with the names ‘A[…] de Laury?’ and ‘François Maguin’?.
(3) Bertram Ashburnham, 4th Earl of Ashburnham (1797-1878), British peer and one of the great manuscript collectors of the 19th century: published in Catalogue of the Manuscripts at Ashburnham Place, Appendix, 1861, cat. no LVI. The 'Appendix' collection was sold en bloc to Henry Yates Thompson in 1897.
(4) Henry Yates Thompson (1839-1928), the greatest manuscripts collector of his generation. Thompson’s goal was to possess one hundred of the finest manuscripts that he could acquire and once these were established, he refined the collection by discarding items to make way for new acquisitions. Much of the collection was dispersed before his death in 1928, and the remaining items were bequeathed to the British Museum by his widow. The present manuscript was Yates Thompson MS. 86; sold at Sotheby’s, 25 June 1914, lot 1.
(5) Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), British painter, dealer, collector, benefactor and art historian connected with the second wave of the Pre-Raphaelites.
(6) Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968), the great Irish-American collector; purchased, according to Dr E.G. Millar, from Fairfax Murray's estate. Chester Beatty W. MS. 102: his sale at Sotheby’s, 3 December 1968, lot 31, bought by Charles W. Traylen for £17,000.
(7) Dawsons of Pall Mall, Catalogue 200 (July 1969), no 10 at £29,500.
(8) 'The Property of a Gentleman' (who also owned the Hours of Anne de Neufville, lot 2 in the present sale), Sotheby’s, 13 July 1977, lot 75, bought by H.P. Kraus for £67,100, with their stock no and price-code on the back pastedown. Sold to Alexandre Rosenberg for $200,000.
(9) Rosenberg Ms 4.
22 Apr 2021