Book of Hours (for Female Use)

French (possibly Amiens)
Medieval (Gothic)
mid-15th century


Place of Manufacture: probably Amiens, France

Dimensions

Overall (page dimensions): 21 x 15 cm (8 1/4 x 5 7/8 in.)

Accession Number

44.862

Medium or Technique

Tempera, ink, pencil (modern), and gold on parchment; bindings of calf over boards with gilding and metal and parchment pastedowns

Not On View

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Manuscripts

Book of Hours with 195 folios (ff.):

ff. 1 - 6v: Calendar
ff. 7 - 12: Gospel readings
ff. 12v - 13v: [blank]
ff. 14 - 35v: Hours of the Days of the Week
(ff. 14 - 17v: [Hours of the Trinity, for Sunday])
(ff. 17v - 20: [Hours of the Dead, for Monday])
(ff. 21 - 23: [Hours of the Holy Spirit, for Tuesday, begins imperfectly])
(ff. 23 - 26: [Hours of All Saints, for Wednesday])
(ff. 26 - 29: [Hours of the Sacrament, for Thursday])
(ff. 29 - 32: [Hours of the Cross, for Friday])
(ff. 32v - 35v: [Hours of the Virgin, for Saturday])
ff. 36 - 41v: Abbreviated temporale offices, in the format of Suffrages
ff. 42 - 44v: Seven Last Words of Our Lord
ff. 44v - 76v: Prayers, in Latin and French
ff. 77 - 82v: Litanies (prose and metric) and prayers
(ff. 78v - 82v: Prayers, in Latin)
ff. 82v - 85v: Prayer of St. Augustine
ff. 85v - 88: “Orison a nostre seigneur/ Mon trespuissant createur tres dous et tres debonaire…”
ff. 88 - 94v: Prayers for Communion, in French
ff. 94v - 106v: Brief prayers to “nostre seigneur” and “nostre dame,” including a prayer “Contre tonnoire” (f. 99v): “Mentem sanctam spontaneam et honorem…”
ff. 107 - 137v: Prayers to the Virgin Mary, in French
(ff. 136v - 137v: [blank])
ff. 138 - 167: Suffrages
ff. 167 - 171: Hours of St. Catherine
ff. 171 - 174: Suffrages
ff. 174 - 174v: Metric prayer to St. Avia, in French
ff. 175 - 175v: Suffrage to St. Avia
ff. 176 - 176v: Suffrage to St. Augustine of Hippo
ff. 177 - 178v: Suffrages for Common of Virgins
ff. 178v - 184: Prayer of Blessed Peter of Luxembourg
ff. 184v - 188: Mass to ward off the plague: “Missa contra pestem epidimie”
ff. 188 - 195: Later additions, in French
(ff. 188 - 190: Sachies certainement que il vest coze plus convenable a noble creature…/…amours cest li sains esperis qui est li amours du pere et du fil.)
(f. 190v: On scet per IIII cozes quant dieux est glorefies en lame…/…pour nulle sustraction.)
(ff. 190v - 192: Les XX poins/ Tant que propos de vous retrire…/…et que pour lun de ces XX poins.)
(ff. 192v - 195: Chi apries sensievent IX biens fais li quell plaisent a dieu…/Donnes 1 denier pour lamour…/..et tu cascun iour la rousaisse de cler sanc de ton corps.)
f. 195v: [blank]

1 column of 13 text lines in Latin and French. Bounding lines in red plummet, full-length to all edges, writing lines in light red plummet, top line doubled and full-length to inner and outer edges, prickings preserved in outer edge for writing lines, upper and lower edges for bounding lines.

Catchwords in cursive or bookhand, lower right of last verso, some trimmed. Modern Arabic foliation in pencil.

Written in a Gothic bookhand in black ink by at least three hands: f. 1-6; ff. 7 - 188 line 4; ff. 188 - end. Red rubrics, with some rubricator guides extant. ff. 1 - 188: two-line initials throughout in gold leaf on paneled background of blue and salmon with white filigree highlights; one-line in-text initials throughout alternating blue with red filigree or gold with black; line fillers blue and red. ff. 188 and following by a lesser artist; 2-line initials blue with red filigree and one-line in-text initials in blue with red filigree or red with black. Seven three-line initials in blue with white filigree highlights on gold background with floral infill in colors, with a square serpentine ¾-frame around text in colors on gold background with floral infill, full borders of thin black vines, gold leaves, acanthus and flowers in colors (on ff. 36, 107, 138, 148, 156, 166, and 172). These pages were illuminated by a different artist than the remainder of the volume. Each is at the beginning of a quire and usually, though not always, at the beginning of a text.

Eight six- to seven-line historiated initials in red or blue with white highlights on a gold background with black vines and gold leaves into margin: f. 14 (the Hours of the Trinity, for Sunday): the Throne of Mercy, in the letter [D] - God the father seated on a blue-draped altar holding crucified Christ, gold background with incised floral pattern; f. 17v (The Hours of the Dead, for Monday): three monks singing from a scroll behind a blue-draped altar, two candles in front, one behind, in the letter [R]; (lacking initial for the Hours of the Holy Spirit, for Tuesday); f. 23 (Hours of All Saints, for Wednesday): a group of standing saints in the letter [D]; f. 26 (the Hours of the Sacrament, for Thursday): red-robed priest holding a monstrance, in the letter [D]; f. 29 (the Hours of the Cross, for Friday): the Crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, on a “gold scrolls”-style background, in the letter [D]; f. 32v (the Hours of the Virgin, for Saturday): the Annunciation, on a “gold-scrolls”-style background, in the letter [D] - Mary kneels behind a reading desk with an open book, a vase of lilies in the foreground, the Angel Gabriel to the left with banderole; f. 165 (suffrage for St. Francis): St. Francis with stigmata, on a “gold-scrolls”-style background, in the letter [O].

Three large miniatures, with full borders of black vines and gold leaves with a few small colored flowers.

Binding: 15th-century blind-stamped, -tooled, and -incised calf over boards. One of the stamps (partially illegible) includes the word “valle.” Lacking clasps and straps. Rebacked, 19th-century laid-on spine gilt in compartments, title label, gilt, reads “P[ ]A/T[ ]R.” Braided endbands. Parchment pastedowns.

Probably produced in Amiens. The calendar includes in red northern French saints such as Remigius (1 Oct.), Piatus (1 Oct.), Martin (11 Nov.), and Eligius and his translation (25 June and 2 Dec.). Also of note are the translation of St. Walaricus (1 April, a date used primarily in Amiens), and the feast of St. Avia (21 Oct.)

The phrase “famulae tuae” on f. 79 and the inclusion of a prayer to the Virgin for the use of a woman in labor both indicate that the manuscript was made for the use of a young woman, in particular a young mother. The two major suffrages on ff. 175 and 176, to St. Avia and St. Augustine of Hippo, both accompanied by ¾-page miniatures, are of particular importance. While St. Avia was a saint of great import throughout the North of France, she was also a patron of small children, a fact which may have made her of particular interest to the young mother who first owned the manuscript. While he was a saint of widespread veneration, the inclusion of a lengthy suffrage to St. Augustine and full-length portrait singles him out as of particular importance to the original owner of the manuscript. His legendary status as a devoted son may have made him a patron to that devout young mother.

Inscription

On folio 195 are two identical early inscriptons recording a death in 1480: "Gilles de Drue trespassa de che monde. Et fut le jour da la magdalaine. Dieux ayt son ame sil luy plaist. Priies dieu pour son ame Et fut le xxiie jour de juillet mil iiiic et iiiixx" ("Gilles de Drue passed from this world. And it happened on the Day of the Magdalene. May God have his soul if it pleases him. Pray to God for his soul. And it happened on the 22nd day of July, 1480"). The placename "Drue" may be the modern town of Le Dreue, located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of Amiens. Said in a laid-down inscription inside upper cover to have belonged to the English nunnery of St. Ethelreda on the island of Ely, but this cannot be confirmed.

Provenance

By 1480, produced in northern France, possibly in Amiens, for a female patron [see note 1]. Possibly at nunnery of St. Ethelreda, island of Ely, England [see note 2]. 1944, gift of Mrs. Sumner Pingree to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 14, 1944)

NOTES:
[1] On folio 195 are two identical early inscriptons recording a death in 1480: "Gilles de Drue trespassa de che monde. Et fut le jour da la magdalaine. Dieux ayt son ame sil luy plaist. Priies dieu pour son ame Et fut le xxiie jour de juillet mil iiiic et iiiixx" ("Gilles de Drue passed from this world. And it happened on the Day of the Magdalene. May God have his soul if it pleases him. Pray to God for his soul. And it happened on the 22nd day of July, 1480"). The placename "Drue" may be the modern town of Le Dreue, located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of Amiens. [2] Noted in a laid-down inscription inside upper cover to have belonged to the English nunnery of St. Ethelreda on the island of Ely, but this cannot be confirmed.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Sumner Pingree