BOOK OF HOURS. Use of Rome, in Latin, manuscript on vellum.

[Italy (Ferrara?), around 1480]


Ca. 10,5×7,5 cm; ix(paper)+167+viii(paper), collation: i12, ii-xvi10, xvii10-5 (last 5 cancelled), vertical catchwords, 15 lines (about 6x4cm), 6 large beautifully floriated initials with full borders, 7 seven-line initials with borders at Lauds, Prime, etc.; smaller initials at minor divisions, two- and one-line initials throughout, many with remarkably refined penwork showing birds, wolves and other fantastic creatures. Some wear, a few extremities of decoration cropped. Bound in contemporary calf, three corner-pieces and one catch extant, worn and faulty; text block’s top edge with inscription “158”. This is a very high quality and charming devotional pocket book, finely painted, with an intricate design and with incredibly vivid and fresh colours. Text and Illumination: Calendar (f.1r); Hours of the Virgin “secundum consuetudinem romane curie”, with Matins (f.13r), Lauds (fol.23v), Prime (f.34v), Terce (fol.38r), Sext (f.41v), None (f.44v), Vespers (f.47v), Compline (f.54r), and variants for different days of the week (f.58r); Office of the Dead (f.73r); Penitential Psalms (f.113r), litany (f.123v) and 10 collects; Hours of the Passion (i.e. Long Hours of the Cross), with Matins (f.133r), Prime (f.142v), Terce (f.144v), Sext (f.146r), None (f.148r), Vespers (f.150r), Compline (f.152r); (short) Hours of the Cross, preceded by a rubric detailing an indulgence of Pope John XXII (f.155r); Mass of the Virgin (f.159r); added prayers, etc. in a later hand (f.164v). Illuminations: (1) Virgin and Child, the border with the Annunciation and two (?) prophets (f.13r); (2) a Skull, the border with a bird and a goat (f.73r); (3) King David in prayer, the border with a swan and a hare (f.113r); (4) Man of Sorrows, the borders with a rabbit and a deer (f.133r); (5) the Cross with Nails and Crown of Thorns (f.155r); (6) a priest performing the Mass (f.159r).

Provenance: 1) Original patron’s coat of arms in the border of the opening of the Hours of the Virgin (f.13r): a shield with azure background, and within a white demi unicorn with a golden horn and collar, and an horizontal band; possibly the de Monte family of Rome (though lacking the band), see J.B. Rietstap, Armorial Général, II, p. 250. The calendar includes Petronius of Bologna (4 Oct.), but the palette and penwork decoration suggest that the book was probably made in Ferrara. 2) The Estate of Corlies Maynard. 3) To the Church of the Holy Comforter, Kenilworth, Illinois.