MS0067 Book of Hours (Roman Use) Latin ms., Flanders, last qtr. 15th c.

149 leaves (13.5 x 10 cm) Burgundian bâtard script. 14 lines. Gatherings mostly of 8. Text in Latin: Hours of the Cross, of the Holy Spirit, Masses, Gospel Lesson, Hours of the Virgin, Psalms, Litany. 34 miniatures, borders of acanthus and flower sprays, and illusionistic borders displaying flowers, insects, etc. Binding: French red morocco with gold tooling. 18th c. Modern solander case.

In flanders the last phase of manuscript illumination is marked by a dramatic redefinition of the relationship between texts and decoration. The school of illumination centered in the major artistic capitals of Ghent and Bruges drew heavily on contemporary panel painting as a source for miniature compositions. Complex architectural interiors and detailed landscapes reflect the naturalism introduced by Jan van Eyck earlier in the century and developed by Roger van der Weyden, Hugo van der Goes, Hans Memling, and Gerard David. in this manuscript, for example, the Virgin and Child with Angels (25v) is derived from altarpiece compositions like those of Memling. Many subjects not previously included in Books of Hours were introduced by these illuminators. The blue and gold acanthus patterns with sprays of flowers and fruit typical of earlier Flemish illuminators are retained on some leaves. But a new style in which the entire leaf is conceived as an illusionistic scenario dominates most of the illuminated pages. In this later style the border panels are treated like display cases with foliage and fauna scattered over the surface in colorful arrangements. These sill-life frames often intrude on the pictorial space of the miniatures. Alternatively, the text is frequently shown suspended in front of an open narrative landscape. Such playfulness tends to subordinate the text and betrays the widening gap between the illuminator's more illusionistic aesthetic and the inherent two-dimensional restrictions of the book format. The style of the borders and the doll-like figure types show close affinities with manuscripts grouped around the Prayerbook of Mary and Maximilian I. But the less painterly landscapes and lanky proportions of many figures are closer to manuscripts done by the Master of Edward Iv during the 1480s for the great patron Louis of Bruges. Both trends are current in the Ghent/Bruges region during the 1480s and 90s, a likely date for this manuscript.

Provenance: Fovine family (inscription in an Italian hand, 1545-46); Jacques Comte de Foncina (inscription, 18th c. ?)