This luxurious Parisian Book of Hours, painted with generous amounts of gold and luminous colors, is by an illuminator who knew intimately the work of the great masters of the first quarter of the century, the Egerton, Guise, Boucicaut and Bedford Masters. Eleven fine miniatures portray the events in charming landscapes and richly draped interiors. The artistic identity of this anonymous artist deserves further study and will contribute to our understanding of how Parisian book painting developed in the middle of the fifteenth century. 

164 folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, 1-164 (foliation includes two parchment flyleaves at the front and one at the back), lacking calendar and Gospel extracts in the beginning and three leaves after f. 84 including a miniature of the Pentecost (collation i2 ii-xi8 xii8 [lacking three leaves with loss of text after f. 84 in positions 3, 4 and 5, and one blank parchment leaf added after f. 84] xiii-xxi8 xxii4), no catchwords or signatures, ruled in red ink (justification c. 100 x 62 mm.), written in brown ink in gothic textualis bookhand on 15-17 lines, 1- to 3-line champie initials in burnished gold on grounds in dark pink and blue with white penwork, line-endings of the same, 13 large 3- to 4-line initials in blue or pink with white penwork on burnished gold grounds, rinceaux borders with burnished gold leaves and flowers in colors in the outer margins of every page, 11 full-page miniatures within full rinceaux and bar borders with acanthus leaves and flowers, slight smudging of paint on f. 3 and occasional signs of wear; ff. 162-163v ruled in brown ink (justification 121 x 71 mm.), written in dark brown ink in the last quarter of the fifteenth century in gothic cursive on 24 lines, graceful capitals in red or blue, line endings in red and blue, water stain in the outer margin of f. 163, otherwise in very fine condition. Bound c. 1575(?) in Paris by King Henri III’s “atelier du doreur à la première palmette” in olive morocco, both boards and spine gilt “à la fanfare,” gilt edges, very slightly scuffed in the corners, otherwise in pristine condition, with modern fitted case in light brown leather titled in gilt on the spine “Heures à l’usage de Liege. 1450” [sic]. Dimensions 185 x 135 mm.


1. The manuscript was written and illuminated for use in Paris. Although lacking its calendar, the manuscript can be localized in Paris by the Hours of the Virgin, the Office of the Dead and the litanies, which are for the liturgical use of Paris. Moreover, the illumination is the work of a Parisian artist (see below). Stylistic evidence and especially the secondary decoration indicate a date c. 1445-1455 (see below; we thank Gregory Clark for opinion on the artist and date of this manuscript).

The manuscript may well have been made for a lawyer. St. Ivo (Yves) of Kermantin occupies an unusually high position in the litanies, where he is invocated third among the confessors. Even in manuscripts made for Rennes, this Breton saint does not receive such attention (cf. Clark, Litanies in “Beyond Use,” Online Resources), and his veneration in our book must have a special reason. Indeed, St. Ivo was a lawyer, and since his canonization in 1347, lawyers at the court of Grand Châtelet in Paris made him their patron saint, founding a chapel in his honor in the parish of St-Benoit-le-Bétourné in the corner of rue Saint-Jacques and rue des Noyers (today Boulevard Saint-Germain) (cf. Perdrizet, 1933, pp. 140-141).   

2. The manuscript was bound around 1575 in Paris for an unknown owner at the workshop named by G. D. Hobson the “atelier du doreur à la première palmette,” active around 1560-1587 (cf. Hobson, 1970). The space in the middle of the design on both boards, which was reserved for the coat of arms, was left blank.

3. Belonged in the nineteenth century to the Liège d’Aunis family from Picardy, whose armorial bookplate is pasted inside the front board. The coat of arms, D’or au chêne-liège de sinople terrassé de même; au chef de gueules chargé d’une fasce ondée du premier, surmontée de trois dés à jouer d’argent rangés en chef, are surmounted by the count’s coronet, and above the mention “Ex libris du Liège” and the initials “P. L. D. D.”  In the early nineteenth century, the family, which was originally from Abbeville, bought the castle that had been built in the sixteenth century by Charles de la Chaussée d’Eu in Arrest, a small town near Abbeville. The family played an important role in the politics of the town and the region. Louis Xavier Hippolyte du Liège d'Aunis (1795-1851) was mayor of Arrest, and Alfred Victor du Liège d’Aunis (1827-1900) was mayor of Arrest and Conseiller général de la Somme.   


(Lacking calendar and Gospel extracts at the beginning)

ff. 1-2v, ruled, otherwise blank;

ff. 3-79v, Hours of the Virgin, use of Paris, with Matins, ff. 3-28, Lauds, ff. 28v-41v, Prime, ff. 42-48v, Terce, ff. 49-54, Sext, ff. 54v-59v, None, ff. 60-64v, Vespers, ff. 65-73, Compline, ff. 73v-79v;

ff. 80-84v, Hours of the Cross, ending imperfectly; [f. 85rv, blank (modern inserted leaf)];

ff. 86-88v, Hours of the Holy Spirit, beginning imperfectly;

ff. 89-101v, Penitential Psalms;

ff. 101v-106v, Litanies, including St. Germain of Paris, and St. Geneviève of Paris in the final position among the virgins;

The saint misspelled, “Andorne” among the monastic saints is the great proto-monastic hermit St. Anthony.

ff. 107-161v, Office of the Dead, use of Paris;

ff. 162-163v, [Prayers in Latin copied in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, with rubrics in French], Quand on veult recepvoir le corps de nostre seigneur Jesuchrist; Quant on l’a receu; Contre la tempeste; Pour impetrer grace des pechez; Contre la tentation de la chair; Contre les maulvaises pensées; Pour quelque tribulation; Pour l’amy vivant en tribulation; Pour noz bienfaiteurs; Oraison tres devote a dire devant la remembrance de notre seigneur; [f. 164, blank].


Eleven full-page miniatures (lacking the miniature beginning the Hours of the Holy Spirit):

f. 3, Annunciation to the Virgin;

f. 28v, Visitation;

f. 42, Nativity;

f. 49, Annunciation to the Shepherds;

f. 54v, Adoration of the Magi;

f. 60, Presentation at the Temple;

f. 65, Flight into Egypt;

f. 73v, Coronation of the Virgin;

f. 80, Crucifixion;

f. 89, David in Prayer;

f. 107, Funeral office and burial.

This manuscript has been attributed to a late follower of the Egerton Master by Gregory Clark (we thank him for his assistance), an illuminator first studied by Rosy Schilling, who named the master after a Book of Hours painted in Paris around 1405-1410, Egerton MS 1070 in the British Library (Schilling, 1954; see also Meiss, 1974, pp. 384-388; for Egerton MS 1070, see Online Resources). The Egerton Master worked in Paris with the Boucicaut Master and his associates, contributing to a number of major manuscripts around 1405-1420, the era of the duke Jean de Berry. The influence of the Egerton Master, as part of a whole generation of Parisian artists, can be found in the miniatures of our illuminator. For instance, David’s majestic golden throne on f. 89, upholstered with colorful gold-embroidered tissue, derives from the Egerton Master in Egerton MS 1070, f. 41 (see Fig. 1). The so-called Guise Hours, painted for an unknown patron in Paris around 1410, was an important source for our artist. This Book of Hours includes 27 miniatures by the anonymous Guise Master, the Annunciation by the Boucicaut Master, and the Crucifixion by the Egerton Master (Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 64; see Online Resources). The Boucicaut Annunciation in this manuscript includes several details that appear to have inspired the Annunciation in our manuscript, especially the Virgin’s pose (although mirrored), the gold decoration along the rim of her cloak and the red gold-embroidered tapestry on the background (see Fig. 2); also the red cushion decorated with small golden circles below the Virgin’s feet is very similar to the cushion under the Virgin’s feet in the Adoration. The gestures of the embrace depicted in the Visitation on f. 28v in our manuscript, with Mary holding Elizabeth’s hand and Elizabeth placing her other hand on Mary’s stomach to bless the infant in her womb, appear also to derive from the Guise Hours (f. 47, see Fig. 3; the composition was reused by the Master of the Munich Golden Legend around 1435-1440, one of the Guise Master’s collaborators and a contemporary of our illuminator, see Plummer, 1982, fig. 9a). The composition of the Flight on f. 65 also clearly derives from the Guise Hours (see Fig. 4). The Guise Master (or the Master of Guy de Laval) was a Parisian follower of the Boucicaut Master active around 1410-1435 (Clark, 2016, pp. 283-286). Notably, the inspiration our illuminator drew from the Guise Master was not limited to motifs and compositions, but includes also aspects of technique, such as the manner in which he decorated the gold-highlighted trees with groups of round or tear-shaped dots (see Fig. 3; there were various ways of painting these “sun-lit” trees during the period), which might suggest that he was trained by him or had an opportunity to observe his miniatures at close range possibly through collaboration.

Our manuscript also demonstrates influence of the late Bedford style, notably the luminous landscapes dotted with shimmering atmospheric details (in contrast to the bare, mature elegance of the Egerton Master), the architecture in pastels, the undulating hair of the figures, the styles of the secondary decoration, and so forth. The Bedford Master, named after his patron John of Lancaster, duke of Bedford, and active around 1405-1435, followed the Boucicaut Master as the leading illuminator in Paris, establishing a flourishing workshop that continued its activity in the 1430s after the departure of the English from the capital (cf. Avril and Reynaud, 1993, pp. 22-24). Our illuminator is among the artists who continued an energetic production of manuscripts in the capital, as judged by the large number of surviving books, while still basing their repertory and somewhat retrospective style on the illumination of the first quarter of the century, and this until around the mid-century, a turning point in Parisian and French illumination, when the aesthetic distinctly changed with new ideas introduced from the southern Netherlandish ars nova, from Italy through Jean Fouquet, and other sources. 

The figures of our artist have large, oval faces, hair defined in long undulating streaks, and small hands, except for larger, gesturing hands. The red tapestry hangings found in many of his scenes are often ornamented with sunray motifs and pseudo-kufic lettering. In contemporary illumination, the Annunciation may be compared, for instance, with the same subject painted in the late Bedford style in a Parisian book of hours of around 1450, The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 76 G 5, f. 25 (see Fig. 5). One beautiful ornamental detail in our manuscript is the motif of a curved branch with three leaves that our artist painted with delicate licks of gold paint on the red cloak of Christ in the Coronation on f. 73v and the altar at the Presentation on f. 60. The motif is not exclusive to him: another version with five leaves was painted in the Hours of Thiébaut de Luxembourg by the contemporary Master of the Collins Hours working in Amiens (Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale, MS 9785, ff. 40 and 47, cf. Nash, 1999, pp. 116 and 200, figs. 65 and 161). The Adoration in our manuscript is placed, unusually, inside a palatial stable, where the inner furnishings are royal and the roof is thatched. Our artist belongs to the artistic atmosphere of the first half of the century, still more concerned with pleasant courtly decor than in searching realism. This is demonstrated by the charming Annunciation to the Shepherds, designed like a tapestry with little concern for perspective, but centered around the loveliest field that is peppered with tiny red, blue and white flowers, which are represented in the same scale as the rows of minuscule trees, seen beyond the decorative log fire in the forefront with each piece of wood placed for careful symmetry (this motif is derived from a Nativity of c. 1420-1425 by the Parisian Master of the Harvard Hannibal; cf. Plummer, 1982, fig. 7). In a captivating example of natural observation, smoke and heat rise from the fire in a play of grey wash overlaid with light grey-white horizontal and vertical strokes as the flames mount. In three of his scenes (ff. 49, 65, 89), our artist added a body of water in order to deepen the landscape (cf. the Bedford Master in the Hours of Anne de Neufville, c. 1425-1430, New York, Alexander P. Rosenberg Collection, MS 10, f. 101; cf. Clark, 2016, f. 9), and in the David in Prayer a meandering river painted in gradually darkening tones leads the eye to the distant city.

The artist of our manuscript may be recognized as the illuminator of another Book of Hours for the use of Paris, illustrated with three large miniatures with full floral borders, which was sold in London, Christie’s, 12 December 1988, lot 22 (see Fig. 6). This is demonstrated by the comparison of both David in Prayer miniatures, which present King kneeling in prayer with a tilted oval face, a bifurcated beard, hair defined in long undulating streaks, and large hands delineated with brown ink. Further identical details include the opened book on the altar, the meandering river in the background, the bushes highlighted with yellow, and the blue sky with golden stars.

Secondary decoration allows a dating of the manuscript around 1445-1455. An important indicator is the gold ruling that encloses the floral borders and frames the page. This finishing touch does not appear until the mid-century. The earliest datable Parisian manuscript with floral borders with enclosing rules, as observed by Gregory Clark, is the Hours of Prigent de Coëtivy datable c. 1443-1445, where the floral borders are enclosed by pink ruling (Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, MS W.82; see Clark, 2016, p. 168). Gold ruling only appears c. 1450 (cf. Avril and Reynaud, 1993, nos. 6, 8, 11, 12, 55, 94, 109, 114). Another border detail that appears to have been invented only towards the mid-century is the double gold baguette running mid-way through the rinceaux borders, disrupted with bouquets of acanthus leaves, flowers and berries at finials and mid-points (ff. 3, 28v, 42, 54v, 60, 65, 73v, 80, 107). A good comparison of the borders and initials can be found in the Book of Hours in the late Bedford style of c. 1450 mentioned above (The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 76 G 5; cf. Korteweg, 2002, p. 197, fig. 167).


Avril, F. and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peinture en France, 1440-1520, Paris, 1993.

Clark, G. Art in the Time of War: The Master of Morgan 453 and Manuscript Illumination in in Paris during the English Occupation (1419-1435), Toronto, 2016.

Hobson, G. D. Les Reliures à la fanfare, le problème de l’S fermé. Une étude historique et critique de l’art de la reliure en France au XVIe siècle fixée sur le style à la fanfare et l’usage de l’S fermé, Amsterdam, 1970.

Meiss, M. French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry: The Limbourgs and their Contemporaries, London, 1974.

Perdrizet, P. Le Calendrier parisien à la fin du moyen âge, d'après le bréviaire et les livres d'Heures, Strasbourg, 1933.

Plummer, J. The Last Flowering: French Painting in Manuscripts, 1420-1530, New York, 1982. 

Schilling, R. “The master of Egerton 1070 (Hours of René d'Anjou),” Scriptorium 8:2 (1954), pp. 272-282.

Available online (on Persée) https://www.persee.fr/doc/scrip_0036-9772_1954_num_8_2_2554

Taburet-Delahaye, E., ed. Paris 1400: Les Arts sous Charles VI, Paris, 2004.

Online Resources

G. Clark, “Beyond Use” http://www6.sewanee.edu/beyonduse/

British Library, MS Egerton 1070 (fully digitized) http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Egerton_MS_1070

“Guise Hours”, Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 64 (fully digitized, IRHT, Paris) https://bvmm.irht.cnrs.fr/consult/consult.php?REPRODUCTION_ID=225

BOH 192

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