The Queen Elizabeth II Library Acquires Two Medieval Manuscripts


BOOK OF HOURS, use of Utrecht, in Dutch, decorated manuscript on vellum [Haarlem, c.1455-65] 


165 x 117mm. 179 leaves, 19 lines written in a gothic bookhand in black ink between two verticals and 20 horizontals ruled in grey, justification: 83 x 59mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one-and two-line initials alternately in red or blue, three-line initials alternately in red and blue with flourishing in purple or red to side margin, six large puzzle initials in red and blue with extensive flourishing in red and purple to upper and side margins. Binding: contemporary brown calf stamped in blind with a panel of the Lamb of God in a roundel within a mandorla framed by “Siet dat lam Goedes dat boert die sonnen d[er] verl,” the symbols of the four Evangelists in the corners, within a triple fillet, two metal clasps and catches.
Provenance: 1. The Calendar includes saints especially revered in the County of Holland, part of the diocese of Utrecht, with St Bavo, patron of Haarlem parish church in red (2 October). 2. Charles Aldenburg Bentinck (1810-1891) of India House, Bovey Tracy, Devon: his name with note ‘bought at Exeter 1832’. 3. Major J.R. Abbey (1894-1969): his gilt stamped armorial leather book plate inside upper cover; his name and addresses and date of purchase, January 1943.

Contents: Calendar, for the diocese of Utrecht, with saints especially revered in the county of Holland: Cyriacus (8 August), Hippolytus (17 August) and Jeroen in red (17 August); Office of the Virgin, use of Utrecht; Hours of Eternal Wisdom; Hours of the Cross; Hours of the Holy Spirit ; Penitential Psalms; Litany, with Jeroen, Adalbert, patron of the Abbey at Egmond; prayers before and after receiving the sacrament; Office of the Dead, use of Utrecht.

Decoration: The fine penwork is a splendid example of the inventive patterning developed particularly in the northern Netherlands, where proponents of the Devotio moderna argued against excessive luxury and display. The flourishing is a mixture of styles that include ‘fountain’ and ‘thorn and stitch’ motifs and that of the ‘Haarlem-Canons-Regular-Missal’, written in 1447. The ‘thorn and stitch’, typical of the northern part of the county of Holland, is named from the spiky decoration concentrated around the initial and from the short parallel strokes laid over the longer curving lines. The ‘beardmen’ (e.g. ff. 39v, 47, 59v, 66v, 166v, and on f.63v with a more conventional man’s face) and the dog’s head on f.70 are also typical for this area. The large leaf motifs and are very like those in a Psalter localised to Haarlem c.1450, while the ‘fountains’ of curving lines and ‘treble clef’ forms, as f.36v or f.114v with triplet ‘beardmen’, are characteristic of Haarlem penwork of the third quarter of the 15th century.

Dutch Missal (Major Feasts (Christmas, Easter, etc.), Proper of Saints, Canon, and some Masses for the Common),manuscript on vellum, the Netherlands, ca. 1475.

Manuscript on vellum, 96 folios, the Netherlands, ca. 1475: 293 x 210 mm (written area 202 x 140 mm). Double columns, 24 lines. Modern foliation, some quire signatures. The Canon is tabbed (one tab has survived). Restored medieval binding, probably original, of blind-stamped tooled calf over bevelled oak boards with brass clasps (straps missing) and corner mounts.

Provenance: Two stamps, one apparently locating the book at Cologne Cathedral, the other placing it in a Jesuit provincial library.

Contents: Text and music for mass Prefaces for ferial days and for major feasts, including the Nativity, Epiphany, Easter, etc. Sasses for the first Sunday of Advent, SS Andrew, Barbara, second Sunday of Advent. Christmas Eve, dawn mass for the Nativity, Nativity Mass, St Stephen Protomartyr, John the Evangelist, Innocents, Circumcision, Chair of St Peter, Matthew Apostle, four Sundays of Lent, Pope Gregory, Passion, St Ambrose, Epiphany, Purification of BVM, Annunciation, Easter Sunday, Ascension, St. John Baptist, SS Peter and Paul, Visitation, Vigil of the Assumption, Assumption, St Augustine, Nativity of BVM and Office of the Conception, St. Michael Archangel; Prefaces for the Octave of the Lord’s Nativity and other Feast days; Canon of the Mass, including a Creed. masses for the Apostles Phillip and James, Invention of the Cross, Exaltation of the Cross, Pentecost, Holy Trinity, St Barnabas, Mary Magdalene, De divisione apostolorum, Apostle James, Laurence and his Octave, Helena, dedication mass; Office of Holy Trinity, masses for Holy Ghost (and Office), Holy Cross, Commemoration of BVM, Purification of the BVM, Office pro necessitate; Orationes; Offices and Masses for the Dead; various special masses and prayers, and an Office for St Mark; Eleven Thousand Virgins, Office for All Saints, Bishop Martin, Katherine, followed by the Common of Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Abbots, Virgin Martyrs, masses for Cosmas and Damian, Dionysius and Companions, St. Luke, Severinus, Simon, St Anne;

Decoration: Scores of Lombard initials in blue and red, with typical rubrication. Over fifty decorated initials, two- to four-lines or even larger, in blue or red with red penwork infilled with green and with penwork extensions. Some stray marginal annotations, additions, and corrections. Two quires were rubricated in a bright blue ink and have no decorated initials.

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