The Burial, Office of the Dead (Leaf from a Book of Hours)

French (Paris?)
Medieval (Gothic)
about 1410
Illuminator Luçon Master (French, active 1390–1417)


Place of Manufacture: Paris, France

Dimensions

Overall (page dimensions): 18.4 x 13.6 cm (7 1/4 x 5 3/8 in.)

Accession Number

1973.691

Medium or Technique

Tempera, ink and gold leaf on parchment

Not On View

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Manuscripts

A single leaf from a Book of Hours, with a half-page miniature attributed to the Luçon Master (active 1390-1417): in a blue-vaulted church, a black coffin with a gold cross sits in a stone frame, surrounded by candelabras. At a lectern behind the coffin, three tonsured and blue-robed monks sing from an open book. To the left, two mourners draped in black. The image and text are enclosed on three sides (not at the top) by an elaborate gold-leaf cross-hatch frame with spaces filled in colors.

Latin text written in a Gothic bookhand in black ink, red rubrics. 2 columns of 20 lines of text. Writing lines in light plummet. Psalm incipits 2- to 3-line blue with white highlights and infill of white vine with leaves in colors on gold background. Liturgical initials 1-line blue or pale pink, with infill and colors as with Psalm initials. Half-page miniature attributed to the below the text, but still within the cross-hatch frame, a grisaille vignette of a dog chasing a sheep and a rabbit. Full border on recto and verso of black vines and gold leaves. On verso, ¾ gilt-fillet frame around text with lower corner florets in colors.

Provenance

From a Book of Hours, possibly made for Margaret of Bavaria (b. 1363 - d. 1424), wife of John the Fearless of Burgundy [see note 1]. July 20, 1916, anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 954 , sold to Bernard Quaritsch, London [see note 2]; about 1916/1917, the manuscript was taken apart and twelve text leaves and twelve miniatures were re-bound. 1917, re-bound manuscript acquired by Alfred Chester Beatty (b. 1875 - d. 1968), London and Dublin, and subsequently broken up [see note 3]; December 3, 1968, Chester Beatty sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 23D, sold to Herbert Bier (dealer), London, in joint ownership with Arthur Kauffmann (dealer), London, and Mrs. F. Scharf [see note 4]; 1969, sold by Herbert Bier to John Goelet; 1973, year-end gift of John Goelet to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 9,1974)

NOTES:
[1] As first suggested in a letter to the MFA from Christopher de Hamel, Sotheby's, London (March 10, 1983), who noted that the presence in the original manuscript of a miniature of St. Margaret and the metrical legend of the saint suggested a female owner who had a particular devotion to the St. Margaret, such as Margaret of Bavaria.

[2] At the time of the sale, the manuscript comprised 110 leaves and was in an eighteenth-century red Morocco binding. Information about its early twentieth-century history was first provided by Christopher de Hamel (as above, n. 1); see also Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, Sotheby's, London, July 7, 2015, lot 36.

[3] Beatty Western MS.104. Around 1930, the manuscript was broken up and the individual illuminations were mounted and framed separately.

[4] Information taken from the Herbert Bier archives, Wallace Collection, London, through the blog http://mssprovenance.blogspot.com ("The Herbert Bier Archive at the Wallace Collection, July 4, 2015).

Credit Line

Gift of John Goelet in honor of Hanns Swarzenski