Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis. Latin ms., N. France, 1st qtr. 16th c.

127 leaves (15.3 x 10.3 cm.) B√Ętard script. 22 lines. Gatherings mostly of 8. Text in Latin and French: Calendar, Gospel Lessons, Obsecro te, O Intemerata, Stabat Mater, Hours of the Virgin, of the Passion, of the Holy Spirit, Psalms, Litany, Office of the Dead, Prayers to Saints, Passion according to John. 12 large and 27 small miniatures, many decorated borders and initials. Binding: red velvet, 18th c.?

By the turn of the sixteenth century manuscript illumination was well into its final phase. and-made Books of Hours had to compete with less expensive printed editions available in large numbers by this time. The richly illuminated vellum codex had become a pretense in an era of rapidly changing values. Here the miniatures are set in architectural borders that overtly define the frame as a window opening into space. The figures are repetitive and graceless, but colorfully rendered and highlighted in gold. The style and calendar point to northern France, possibly the flourishing school of Rouen. St. Hunna (April 15), included in the calendar, was only canonized in 1519. Hence the manuscript may have been written after that date, late in the first quarter of the century.

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