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The 'Marie de Medici' Hours Book of Hours, use of...

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The 'Marie de Medici' Hours
Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]
A generously illuminated Book of Hours from the circle of the Master of Anne of Brittany with a traditional French royal provenance.

162/5 x 110mm. 170 leaves: iii (original ruled blanks, i as pastedown) + 170 + ii (ii as pastedown), 112, 28, 37(of 8, lacking v), 4-98, 107(of 8, lacking v), 117of 8, lacking viii cancelled blank), 12-138, 147(of 8 lacking vii), 157(of 8 lacking v), 16-198, with no further catchwords 20 to the end are apparently: 204, 217(of 8 lacking v), 224 (of 6 lacking iv and v), 234, some catchwords, modern pencilled foliation, 18 lines, ruled space: 88 x 51mm, rubrics in blue, one-line initials and line-endings in gold on grounds of pink and blue patterned with white, two-line initials in blue patterned with white on gold grounds with infills of fruit, flowers or stylised leaves, every text page with a border to the outer margin for the height of the ruled space of sprays of acanthus, fruit and flowers on gold, maroon, red or brown grounds, many divided, sixteen small miniatures with similar borders, with the addition of birds, insects, beasts or grotesques, on gold grounds to three sides, the calendar with 24 border miniatures of the occupations of the months and zodiac signs with similar borders to two sides including unframed figures and scenes from the feasts celebrated, 14 full-page miniatures, most with architectural framing, with the opening words of each text incorporated into the imagined space, one with an historiated border within its architectural framing (lacking eight leaves, four with full-page miniatures and three with small miniatures and one cancelled blank, small paint losses in sky in miniatures ff.66, 75 and 105; a few borders slightly worn in calendar).

Binding:
16th-century red morocco gilt tooled with a semis of MM monograms, with one M inverted, and fermesses, closed S, on both covers within a double and single fillet and on the smooth spine within a double fillet (lacking two clasps and one catch, slight wear, the first gathering detaching from spine).

Provenance:
(1) Text and illumination indicate that the book was made in Paris. The Calendar is Parisian with St Genevieve (3 Jan.), Sts Leu and Giles (1 Sept.) and St Denis (9 Oct.) among the feasts written in gold; St Genevieve is invoked in the memorials, f.166v. Comparatively few saints are invoked in the Litany: none is indicative of a particular locality. The illuminators are securely localised to Paris. Prayers are in the masculine. Not long after, prayers in the feminine were added. A stuck in ?ownership note has been removed from inside the upper cover.

(2) Sotheby’s, 10 December 1980, lot 110, sold by a descendant of the Saint-Germain family, when said to have been a gift from the Queen of Henry II of France, Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), to her chaplain the Abbé de Saint Germain. Although known for her library, which included manuscripts, Catherine is not known to have had a chaplain of that name. According to a popular anecdote recorded in the 16th century, she was attended at her deathbed by Julien de Saint-Germain, first confessor of her son Henry III, thus fulfilling a prophesy that she would die if she failed to avoid Saint-Germain. Of the various clerics bearing this name, none was in the service of Henry III and the veracity of the anecdote is doubtful (C. Zum Kolk and J. Vons, ‘Maladies, mort et funérailles de Catherine de Médicis’, J. Cornette and A.-M. Helvétius eds., La mort des rois de Sigismond (523) à Louis XIV (1715), 2016, pp.149-173). The handsome binding would be appropriate for a queen but the emblems are not Catherine’s. They are closer to those of a later queen, Marie de Medici (1575-1642), Queen of Henry IV of France from 1600, who did have an Abbé de Saint-Germain in her household. Matthieu de Morgues, Sieur de Saint-Germain (1582-1670), appointed her preacher in 1620 and first almoner in 1634, was a prolific polemicist on her behalf, sharing her exile in Flanders and only returning to Paris after Richelieu’s death in 1642 (C. Perroud, ‘Essai sur la vie et les œuvres de Mathieu de Morgues’, Annales de la Société d’agricultutre, sciences et arts du Puy, XXVI, 1863, pp. 207-383). Marie de Medici owned at least one 15th-century manuscript Book of Hours (Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, ms 1180), while M. de Saint-Germain owned the famed Salisbury Breviary (Paris, BnF, ms lat.17294), one of the manuscripts from which the Bedford Master was named. It is highly likely that Saint-Germain received gifts from the Queen and his seven surviving siblings ensured his family’s survival: the tradition of a royal gift could have a basis in fact, although becoming attached to the wrong Medici Queen. Marie de Medici used the MM monogram and the closed S of the binding but so did others: the style of the binding suggests an earlier owner, from whom the book could have passed to the Queen, a passage perhaps encouraged by the appropriate binding, to be given to her fervent supporter the Abbé de Saint-Germain (for the books and bindings of Marie de Medici, see I. de Conihout, ‘Bijoux de dévotion. Canivets, reliures et livres de luxe pour Marie de Médicis’, C. Nativel, ed., Henri IV: Art et pouvoir, 2016, pp. 219-257).

(3) Sotheby’s, 2 December 1986, lot 65.

(4) The Schøyen Collection, MS 13.

Content:
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel extracts ff.13-20; ruled blank f.20v; Obsecro te in the masculine ff.21-24v; O intemerata in the masculine, lacking opening, ff.25-27v; Hours of the Virgin, use of Paris, ff. 28-89v: matins f.28, ruled blank f.49v, lauds f.50, prime f.60, ruled blank f.65v, tierce f.66, ruled blank f.70v, sext f.71, ruled blank f.75, none f.76, vespers lacking opening f.80, compline f.85; the Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.90-104v; the Hours of the Cross ff.105-111v; the Hours of the Holy Spirit, lacking opening, ff.112-116; ruled blank f.116v; Office of the Dead, use of Paris, lacking opening ff.117-155v; Memorials ff.156-167v: to the Trinity f.156, Sts Michael f.156v, John the Baptist f.157, Peter and Paul f.157v, John the Evangelist f.158, James f.158v, Stephen f.159, lacking memorial to Laurence, Sebastian lacking opening f.160, Denis f.161, Anthony Abbot lacking end f.161v, Nicholas lacking opening f.162, Martin f.162, Stabat mater f.162v, Ave cuius conceptio f.164v, to Sts Mary Magdalene, lacking end f.165v, Margaret f.166, Genevieve f.166v, All Saints f.167; added sequence of prayers in the feminine opening Ave caro Christi cara on original ruled blanks in a cursive hand leaving spaces for initials that were never supplied ff.168-170v.

Illumination:
The fine miniatures have been attributed to the illuminator, painter and designer variously known as the Master of the Très petites heures of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France (Paris, BnF, ms nouv. acq. lat.3120), the Master of the Hunt of the Unicorn, as designer of the great tapestries in The Cloisters, New York, or the Master of the Rose or Apocalypse window of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, which he also designed (Paris, Grand Palais, exh. cat. Paris 1500, 2010, p.243, see Avril and Reynaud pp.265-70). The art of the Master of Anne of Brittany was rooted in that of the Coëtivy Master – the source of the distinctive facial type with retroussé nose and forward thrusting chin – itself derived from that of the Master of Dreux Budé. If these masters were three generations of the same family, they could be the painter-illuminators of Netherlandish origin active in Paris: André d’Ypres or d’Amiens, his son Colin d’Amiens and grandson Jean d’Ypres, whose death in 1508 roughly coincides with the end of the activity of the Master of Anne of Brittany. His work reached a wide audience as he designed not only for stained glass and tapestry but also for the Parisian publishers of printed Books of Hours.

Many of the compositions in the Schøyen Hours correspond closely, even in colour, to those in the Master’s name work and two related Books of Hours in Chantilly (Musée Condé mss 81 and 82); Anne of Brittany’s Hours also has architectural framing replacing conventional borders on miniature pages. Yet the distinctively lankier figures predominant in the Schøyen miniatures, inspired by Maître François and the Master of Jacques de Besançon (?François le Berbier the Elder and Younger), suggest a distinct creator with an intimate and direct knowledge of the Master’s work that was enriched by wider influences. The integration of text into framing and miniature to make each miniature page a coherent illusion of spatial unity, developed by the earlier royal illuminators, Jean Fouquet and Jean Colombe, is a striking feature of the Schøyen Hours but not of the architectural framing of Anne of Brittany’s Hours. Similarly designed miniature pages are, however, present in an Hours for the Use of Rome in a private collection (Heribert Tenschert, Leuchtendes Mittelalter II (1990), no 52), which, along with the Schøyen Hours and the de Simony Hours (Christie’s, 14 December 2022, lot 43), have been attributed by Ina Nettekoven to an associate of the Master of Anne of Brittany, named from a collection of theological treatises in Paris (BnF ms fr. 9608, Der Meister der Apokalypsenrose der Saint Chapelle und die Pariser Buchkunst um 1500, 2004, pp.56-7), where the Crucifixion on f.3v is an elaborate version of that in the Schøyen Hours, f.105 and could well be by the same hand.

The Master of the Theological Treatises was responsible for most of the full-page illuminations, with the Nativity, f.60, painted in his favoured, attractively muted, colours but with stockier figures. The Annunciation, f.28, and the intensely coloured and dramatic Last Judgement, f.90, are by a different, stylistically related hand. The Master of Anne of Brittany painted a very similar Last Judgement in a Book of Hours in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London...

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The 'Marie de Medici' Hours
Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]
A generously illuminated Book of Hours from the circle of the Master of Anne of Brittany with a traditional French royal provenance.

162/5 x 110mm. 170 leaves: iii (original ruled blanks, i as pastedown) + 170 + ii (ii as pastedown), 112, 28, 37(of 8, lacking v), 4-98, 107(of 8, lacking v), 117of 8, lacking viii cancelled blank), 12-138, 147(of 8 lacking vii), 157(of 8 lacking v), 16-198, with no further catchwords 20 to the end are apparently: 204, 217(of 8 lacking v), 224 (of 6 lacking iv and v), 234, some catchwords, modern pencilled foliation, 18 lines, ruled space: 88 x 51mm, rubrics in blue, one-line initials and line-endings in gold on grounds of pink and blue patterned with white, two-line initials in blue patterned with white on gold grounds with infills of fruit, flowers or stylised leaves, every text page with a border to the outer margin for the height of the ruled space of sprays of acanthus, fruit and flowers on gold, maroon, red or brown grounds, many divided, sixteen small miniatures with similar borders, with the addition of birds, insects, beasts or grotesques, on gold grounds to three sides, the calendar with 24 border miniatures of the occupations of the months and zodiac signs with similar borders to two sides including unframed figures and scenes from the feasts celebrated, 14 full-page miniatures, most with architectural framing, with the opening words of each text incorporated into the imagined space, one with an historiated border within its architectural framing (lacking eight leaves, four with full-page miniatures and three with small miniatures and one cancelled blank, small paint losses in sky in miniatures ff.66, 75 and 105; a few borders slightly worn in calendar).

Binding:
16th-century red morocco gilt tooled with a semis of MM monograms, with one M inverted, and fermesses, closed S, on both covers within a double and single fillet and on the smooth spine within a double fillet (lacking two clasps and one catch, slight wear, the first gathering detaching from spine).

Provenance:
(1) Text and illumination indicate that the book was made in Paris. The Calendar is Parisian with St Genevieve (3 Jan.), Sts Leu and Giles (1 Sept.) and St Denis (9 Oct.) among the feasts written in gold; St Genevieve is invoked in the memorials, f.166v. Comparatively few saints are invoked in the Litany: none is indicative of a particular locality. The illuminators are securely localised to Paris. Prayers are in the masculine. Not long after, prayers in the feminine were added. A stuck in ?ownership note has been removed from inside the upper cover.

(2) Sotheby’s, 10 December 1980, lot 110, sold by a descendant of the Saint-Germain family, when said to have been a gift from the Queen of Henry II of France, Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), to her chaplain the Abbé de Saint Germain. Although known for her library, which included manuscripts, Catherine is not known to have had a chaplain of that name. According to a popular anecdote recorded in the 16th century, she was attended at her deathbed by Julien de Saint-Germain, first confessor of her son Henry III, thus fulfilling a prophesy that she would die if she failed to avoid Saint-Germain. Of the various clerics bearing this name, none was in the service of Henry III and the veracity of the anecdote is doubtful (C. Zum Kolk and J. Vons, ‘Maladies, mort et funérailles de Catherine de Médicis’, J. Cornette and A.-M. Helvétius eds., La mort des rois de Sigismond (523) à Louis XIV (1715), 2016, pp.149-173). The handsome binding would be appropriate for a queen but the emblems are not Catherine’s. They are closer to those of a later queen, Marie de Medici (1575-1642), Queen of Henry IV of France from 1600, who did have an Abbé de Saint-Germain in her household. Matthieu de Morgues, Sieur de Saint-Germain (1582-1670), appointed her preacher in 1620 and first almoner in 1634, was a prolific polemicist on her behalf, sharing her exile in Flanders and only returning to Paris after Richelieu’s death in 1642 (C. Perroud, ‘Essai sur la vie et les œuvres de Mathieu de Morgues’, Annales de la Société d’agricultutre, sciences et arts du Puy, XXVI, 1863, pp. 207-383). Marie de Medici owned at least one 15th-century manuscript Book of Hours (Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, ms 1180), while M. de Saint-Germain owned the famed Salisbury Breviary (Paris, BnF, ms lat.17294), one of the manuscripts from which the Bedford Master was named. It is highly likely that Saint-Germain received gifts from the Queen and his seven surviving siblings ensured his family’s survival: the tradition of a royal gift could have a basis in fact, although becoming attached to the wrong Medici Queen. Marie de Medici used the MM monogram and the closed S of the binding but so did others: the style of the binding suggests an earlier owner, from whom the book could have passed to the Queen, a passage perhaps encouraged by the appropriate binding, to be given to her fervent supporter the Abbé de Saint-Germain (for the books and bindings of Marie de Medici, see I. de Conihout, ‘Bijoux de dévotion. Canivets, reliures et livres de luxe pour Marie de Médicis’, C. Nativel, ed., Henri IV: Art et pouvoir, 2016, pp. 219-257).

(3) Sotheby’s, 2 December 1986, lot 65.

(4) The Schøyen Collection, MS 13.

Content:
Calendar ff.1-12v; Gospel extracts ff.13-20; ruled blank f.20v; Obsecro te in the masculine ff.21-24v; O intemerata in the masculine, lacking opening, ff.25-27v; Hours of the Virgin, use of Paris, ff. 28-89v: matins f.28, ruled blank f.49v, lauds f.50, prime f.60, ruled blank f.65v, tierce f.66, ruled blank f.70v, sext f.71, ruled blank f.75, none f.76, vespers lacking opening f.80, compline f.85; the Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.90-104v; the Hours of the Cross ff.105-111v; the Hours of the Holy Spirit, lacking opening, ff.112-116; ruled blank f.116v; Office of the Dead, use of Paris, lacking opening ff.117-155v; Memorials ff.156-167v: to the Trinity f.156, Sts Michael f.156v, John the Baptist f.157, Peter and Paul f.157v, John the Evangelist f.158, James f.158v, Stephen f.159, lacking memorial to Laurence, Sebastian lacking opening f.160, Denis f.161, Anthony Abbot lacking end f.161v, Nicholas lacking opening f.162, Martin f.162, Stabat mater f.162v, Ave cuius conceptio f.164v, to Sts Mary Magdalene, lacking end f.165v, Margaret f.166, Genevieve f.166v, All Saints f.167; added sequence of prayers in the feminine opening Ave caro Christi cara on original ruled blanks in a cursive hand leaving spaces for initials that were never supplied ff.168-170v.

Illumination:
The fine miniatures have been attributed to the illuminator, painter and designer variously known as the Master of the Très petites heures of Anne of Brittany, Queen of France (Paris, BnF, ms nouv. acq. lat.3120), the Master of the Hunt of the Unicorn, as designer of the great tapestries in The Cloisters, New York, or the Master of the Rose or Apocalypse window of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris, which he also designed (Paris, Grand Palais, exh. cat. Paris 1500, 2010, p.243, see Avril and Reynaud pp.265-70). The art of the Master of Anne of Brittany was rooted in that of the Coëtivy Master – the source of the distinctive facial type with retroussé nose and forward thrusting chin – itself derived from that of the Master of Dreux Budé. If these masters were three generations of the same family, they could be the painter-illuminators of Netherlandish origin active in Paris: André d’Ypres or d’Amiens, his son Colin d’Amiens and grandson Jean d’Ypres, whose death in 1508 roughly coincides with the end of the activity of the Master of Anne of Brittany. His work reached a wide audience as he designed not only for stained glass and tapestry but also for the Parisian publishers of printed Books of Hours.

Many of the compositions in the Schøyen Hours correspond closely, even in colour, to those in the Master’s name work and two related Books of Hours in Chantilly (Musée Condé mss 81 and 82); Anne of Brittany’s Hours also has architectural framing replacing conventional borders on miniature pages. Yet the distinctively lankier figures predominant in the Schøyen miniatures, inspired by Maître François and the Master of Jacques de Besançon (?François le Berbier the Elder and Younger), suggest a distinct creator with an intimate and direct knowledge of the Master’s work that was enriched by wider influences. The integration of text into framing and miniature to make each miniature page a coherent illusion of spatial unity, developed by the earlier royal illuminators, Jean Fouquet and Jean Colombe, is a striking feature of the Schøyen Hours but not of the architectural framing of Anne of Brittany’s Hours. Similarly designed miniature pages are, however, present in an Hours for the Use of Rome in a private collection (Heribert Tenschert, Leuchtendes Mittelalter II (1990), no 52), which, along with the Schøyen Hours and the de Simony Hours (Christie’s, 14 December 2022, lot 43), have been attributed by Ina Nettekoven to an associate of the Master of Anne of Brittany, named from a collection of theological treatises in Paris (BnF ms fr. 9608, Der Meister der Apokalypsenrose der Saint Chapelle und die Pariser Buchkunst um 1500, 2004, pp.56-7), where the Crucifixion on f.3v is an elaborate version of that in the Schøyen Hours, f.105 and could well be by the same hand.

The Master of the Theological Treatises was responsible for most of the full-page illuminations, with the Nativity, f.60, painted in his favoured, attractively muted, colours but with stockier figures. The Annunciation, f.28, and the intensely coloured and dramatic Last Judgement, f.90, are by a different, stylistically related hand. The Master of Anne of Brittany painted a very similar Last Judgement in a Book of Hours in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London...

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Time, Location
11 Jun 2024
UK, London
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