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The Rosenberg Master (active c.1475-1495)
The Rosenberg Master (active c.1475-1495) The Molé Hours, use of Troyes, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [France, probably Lyon, c.1480] A profusely-illustrated volume, after which the illuminator is named, made for a member of a prominent family. c.155 x 105mm. i + 128 + i leaves, collation: 12, 26, 3-108, 114, 12-178, 184, with... moreThe Rosenberg Master (active c.1475-1495)
The Molé Hours, use of Troyes, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [France, probably Lyon, c.1480]
A profusely-illustrated volume, after which the illuminator is named, made for a member of a prominent family.
c.155 x 105mm. i + 128 + i leaves, collation: 12, 26, 3-108, 114, 12-178, 184, with contemporary vellum interleaving facing the miniatures, modern pencil foliation in the lower left corner, counting the interleaving, 1-143 followed here, with occasional catchwords, leaf signatures, and instructions to the illuminator, 24 lines, rubrics sometimes very calligraphic, ruled space: c.85 x 55mm, illuminated with a full-page armorial frontispiece, 12 full-page miniatures, 34 historiated initials, 24 small calendar miniatures, and a one-sided panel border on every text page (approximately 270 in all), with one- and two-line illuminated initials throughout (3 miniatures removed before the manuscript was rebound in the 16th century: text before none, the Seven Penitential Psalms and the Obsecro te supplied in an early hand). 20th-century polished black calf, the spine re-using an 18th-century green leather title-piece lettered in gilt capitals ‘Officium B.V.M Cod[ex]. in me[mbranis]’. Leather book-box, the front cover embossed with a French(?) monogram of the letters A and E, the spine lettered in gilt capitals ‘Horae B.V.M.’ and ‘Troyes’.
Armorial frontispiece f.2; Calendar ff.3-8v, with numerous saints venerated at Troyes including Frodobert (8 January), Patroclus (19 January), Savinian (24 January, duplex, in red, with octave, and his translation, 2 March), Sabina (29 January), Mastidia (7 May, duplex, in red), Fidolus (16 May), Ursus (26 July, perhaps a contemporary addition), Camelianus (28 July), Lupus of Troyes (29 July, in red, with octave, and his translation, 10 May), and Bercharius (16 October); Gospel extracts ff.10-13v; the Passion narrative based on John ff.15-20v; Hours of the Virgin ‘secundum usum ecclesie Trecensis’ ff.22-82: matins f.22, lauds f.35, prime f.43, terce f.48, sext f.53, none f.57, vespers f.60, compline f.67; Hours of the Cross ff.82v-85v; Hours of the Holy the Spirit ff.87-88v; Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.90-102, the litany with Quiriac and Aygulphe immediately after Stephen at the beginning of the martyrs, and other Troyes saints including Lupus, Frodobert, and Mastidia; Office of the Dead ff.102v-128v; Obsecro te f.130v, O intemerata f.132v, and ‘Excellentissima domina et gloriosissima virgo’ f.135v (masculine forms); suffrages to saints ff.136v–142, including Claudius.
The artist is named after this manuscript 'The Rosenberg Master'. He belongs to a well-defined group of artists whose manuscripts share stylistic and compositional features, based in Lyon, a major commercial crossroads at the confluence of the Saone and Rhone rivers. One of the finest manuscripts of the group, and perhaps the earliest, is a Book of Hours at the Getty Museum (MS 10), datable to 1478. It may be that the master of the Getty Hours was the earliest exponent of the style, and that the several related artists were successively his apprentices, and perhaps also his relatives: the Rosenberg Master, the Boilly Master, the Master of Guillaume Lambert, and others. They appear to have been active from about 1475 until about 1495. The Getty Hours exhibits many of the most distinctive features of the group, such as the frames within which miniatures are set: each side is like a giltwood gothic architectural square pier set at a 45-degree angle to the viewer, each with two superimposed niches occupied by prophets or similar figures; the upper and lower frames are plain, but in many manuscripts (including the present one) the lower frame has the opening words of the following text written in very distinctive display capitals, including a backwards ‘N’, an open-topped ‘D’ similar to a 'U' or an 'LS' ligature, a long horizontal serif at the top left of the letter 'A', and a short horizontal serif at the mid-height of most minims. The miniatures themselves are characterised (especially in the largest miniatures) by generally tall, slim figures, the men often with large, curved foreheads, the women with oval faces of very pale skin. Features such as the way in which massed crowds are depicted (e.g. in the Betrayal and Arrest of Christ) clearly owe a debt to Jean Colombe of Bourges, and the funeral procession (f.102) is derived from Colombe compositions such as that found in the Hours of Anne of France (New York, Morgan Library, MS. M.677), datable to c.1473. The use of gold framing piers probably also derives from Colombe, though he in turn probably got the idea from the so-called Master of the Yale Missal, with whom he collaborated on the Hours of Louis de Laval (see Burin fig.82; Avril & Reynaud, no 179, col. ill. on p.324). The presence of Colombe-derived motifs and compositions in Lyon can be explained by the fact that he is thought to have spent some time there en route from his hometown to Savoie, where he worked on the unfinished Très riches heures for the court of Charles I of Savoy. The unusual Annunciation miniature, meanwhile, a composition that also occurs in a related Lyon Hours (BnF, MS Lat. 18015; Burin fig.30), is derived from the Rohan Master: the architectural setting and the side scenes are almost a mirror-image of a miniature in the Hours of Isabella Stuart (Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 62, f.141v; Burin, fig.19).
In addition to the present manuscript and lot 10, the Rosenberg Master was responsible for four others, and contributions to at least another four, one of which can be dated 1478 (Vatican, Vat. lat. 3780; Burin cat. no 43) and another 1482 (Badia di Cava, MS 45; Burin cat. no 4); these give us a good indication of his period of activity. Unusually, some of the finest illumination in the present volume is in its historiated initials: the close-up head-and-shoulders portraits of men and women often show them at larger scale than equivalent figures in the full-page miniatures, allowing the artist to show more detail and nuance, such as the bald man on f.81, and the man with a scroll on f.81v.
The subjects of the full-page miniatures are as follows: Full-page achievement of arms with the motto ‘En attandant’, the arms gules, in chief two six-pointed stars or, in base a crescent argent f.2; St John on Patmos f.10; Betrayal and Arrest of Christ f.15; Annunciation surrounded by subsidiary scenes: the Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple; the Virgin at the Loom; the Marriage of the Virgin f.22; Visitation f.35; Nativity f.43; Annunciation to the Shepherds: a delightful pastoral scene with an unusual number of genre elements: in the foreground a duck pond; in the middle distance a wickerwork sheep-pen, guarded by a sleeping sheepdog and a shepherd sitting in a portable, wheeled, shelter; and a riverscape apparently with a boatmill between two boats f.48; Adoration of the Magi f.53; Presentation in the Temple f.60; Dormition of the Virgin f.67; Crucifixion f.82v; Pentecost f.87; Funeral procession: a large crowd of clerics entering a church from a graveyard, followed by the bier carried by two Carmelites(?) and two Benedictines(?), and a group of men carrying lighted tapers from which hang a shield of arms on a black background (apparently azure, a bend argent, within a border gules, presumably copied from the exemplar?), and a large crowd of black-clad mourners f.102.
The small and large historiated initials are on ff.11, 12, 12v, 64v, 70, 71, 71v, 74, 74v, 75, 75v, 76v, 78v, 79, 80, 80v, 81, 81v, 82, 97, 118, 125v, 132v, 135v, 136v, 137, 137v, 139v, 140, 140v, 141, 141v, and 142.
(1) The patron was a male member of the Molé family of Troyes who had the motto ‘En attandant’ (see below), which is on a scroll in numerous borders, and in two historiated initials; the motto is accompanied by the joined initials ‘GM’ in some of the borders in the Hours of the Cross and Spirit. The same initials joined by a love-knot are in another Hours illuminated by the same illuminator, suggesting the possibility that one belonged to the husband, and the other to the wife. The Molé were for several centuries one of the most important families of Troyes, and several late medieval illuminated manuscripts were made or adapted for them: (i) a Book of Hours of the use of Troyes, c.1485, illuminated by Jean Colombe of Bourges, except for the last miniature, which was illuminated by a member of the Guillaume Lambert Group of Lyon (see Illumination), and depicts a member of the Molé family at prayer (Rodez, Societé des lettres, MS 1; see Avril & Reynaud, 1993, no 184); (ii) Guillaume de Nagis, Chronique abrégée des rois de France, illuminated by a local Troyes artist, c.1475–80 (Paris, BnF, MS Fr. 2598; see Avril & Reynaud, no 101); (iii) Passion de nostre seigneur and Vengeance de la mort, illuminated at Lyon c.1480s by a member of the Guillaume Lambert Group (J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 25); (iv) a Book of Hours of the use of Troyes, attributed to the Rohan Master in Troyes, c.1420, and adapted c.1480 for Guillaume II Molé and his wife Simone Le Boucherat (Christie’s, 7 June 2000, lot 7), with an added armorial frontispiece similar to that in the present manuscript.
(2) An early 16th-century member of the Molé family was presumably responsible for adding the full-page heraldic frontispiece miniature, with the Molé arms and three more ‘En attandant’ scrolls held by putti. It may have been this 16th-century owner who was responsible for inserting leaves to replace lost passages of text; the interleaving facing the miniatures is, however, apparently original: the ones facing supplied leaves all have traces of pigment where miniatures would have been.
(3) A note formerly with the manuscript, but already missing by the time of the 1977 auction (see below), is reported to have to have been written c.1820 and read ‘Col...
22 Apr 2021