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Description

CHARMING TROMPE L'OEIL BORDERS WITH INVENTIVE FLORA AND FAUNA FOR A WOMAN

This delightful book of hours was made for a woman living in Hainaut, probably in Valenciennes. The charming miniatures are surrounded by painted borders strewn with branches and naturalistic flowers, berries, insects, and birds. The artist, the Master of Marguerite de Liedekerke, is less known in modern scholarship than his contemporary, the Master of Antoine Rolin, but appears in his time to have enjoyed equal appreciation from clients. His art, which deserves further study, will enable us to understand more fully the heritage of the famed Simon Marmion (d. 1489) in Hainaut at the end of the fifteenth century.

iii (paper) + ii (parchment) + 147 + iv (paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, 1-147, complete (collation i-ii6 iii-iv4 v-xi8 xii6 xiii4 xiv-xx8 xxi5), no catchwords or signatures, ruled in brown ink (justification 90 x 57 mm.), written in brown ink in gothic textualis bookhand on 14 lines, line-endings in blue, burgundy or pink with penwork in gold, 1-line initials in gold on blue grounds with gold penwork, 1- to 4-line initials with white feathering on light blue initials or gold feathering on burgundy initials, both on grounds in light pink, burgundy or blue, or divided into these colors, decorated with gold feathering, 12 large miniatures over 4 lines of text and within full painted borders strewn with naturalistic flowers, berries, insects and birds; paint very slightly flaked in the Adoration, f. 59, some small stains and a small tear on f. 52, otherwise in very good condition. Bound in the eighteenth century in brown calf, blind-tooled with a frame of flowers, pomegranates in the corners and center, same design on front and back boards, spine with five raised bands, gold-tooled with pomegranates, foliage and the title “OFFICIUM BEATAE MARIAE,” gilt edges, marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, skillfully repaired, leather rubbed, but in overall good condition. Dimensions 157 x 107 mm.

Provenance

1. The manuscript was made in Hainaut, a province straddling the border between northern France and southern Netherlands (modern-day Belgium). Local saints in the calendar include St. Aldegonde of Maubeuge (30 Jan) and St. Lifard of Gonnelieu (south of Cambrai; 4 Feb). Moreover, the manuscript can be localized to Valenciennes in Hainaut stylistically by the feathering on the initials and, above all, by the miniatures attributed to the Master of Marguerite de Liedekerke, an illuminator whose clients, collaborators and style belong to this region (see below). The manuscript was clearly made for a woman: the suffrages begin, very unusually, with female saints (Catherine, Barbara, Margaret), followed by prayers for the Virgin Mary, with the male saints listed afterwards.

The calendar also includes the feast celebrating the discovery of the relics of St. Vaast in the town of Arras in Artois on July 15 in gold (his feast dies natalis on 6 February is also included but not in gold), and the manuscript was previously localized to that region (Sotheby’s, 1990; see below). However, as Anne-Marie Legaré has noted, the town of Valenciennes belonged in part to the diocese of Arras and in part to the diocese of Cambrai, explaining the prominence of this feast in the calendar, especially if it was made for a patron who lived on the left bank of the Escaut river which was in the diocese of Arras (Legaré, 2005, p. 412)

2. Sotheby’s, 19 June 1990, lot 120 (as “Artois, perhaps Arras, c. 1500”). 

Text

ff. 1-12v, Calendar in French (with traits of the Picard dialect), “composite,” i.e. with a feast for every day of the year; entries are transcribed alternating in red and blue ink, with gold reserved for the most important feasts; 

ff. 13-16v, Hours of the Cross, rubric in French, Heures de la croix

ff. 17-20v, Hours of the Holy Spirit, rubric in French, Heures du saint esprit

ff. 21-80v, Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome, rubric in French, Heures de nostre dame, with Matins, ff. 21-34, Lauds, ff. 34v-48v, Prime, ff. 49-54, Terce, ff. 54v-58v, Sext (rubric in French, midi), ff. 59-63, None, ff. 63v-67v, Vespers, ff. 68-76v, and Compline, ff. 77-80v;

ff. 81-95v, Penitential Psalms; 

ff. 96-101, Litanies, including St. Louis of France at the end of confessors and St. Louis of Toulouse at the end of monks and hermits. The litanies are followed by petitions and the two common prayers, “Deus cui proprium est misereri” and “Fidelium deus omnium conditor et redemptor”; 

ff. 101-112v, Prayers: the Marian hymn Salve regina followed by Suffrages of St. Catherine, St. Barbara, St. Margaret, the Five Feasts of Our Lady, “Memoire des cincq festes nostre dame” (Assumption, Nativity, Conception, Purification, Annunciation), St. Michael, St. John the Baptist, St. Christopher, St. Nicholas, St. Anthony, and All Saints; ending with prayers at and after Communion, and a prayer for the Holy Spirit; 

ff. 113-144, Office of the Dead, in shortened form with only the first three lessons, use of Rome (and Tournai); [concluding with a prayer for the deceased (trépassés)], Memoire des trespasses, incipit, “Avete, omnes avete fideles ...”; [ff. 144v-147v, ruled, otherwise blank]. 

Knud Ottosen records the responses 14-72-24 (use of Rome) in a contemporary manuscript, dated 1495, for use in Tournai in Hainaut (Ottosen, 1993). 

Illustration

Twelve full-page miniatures:

f. 13, Crucifixion; 

f. 17, Pentecost; 

f. 21, Annunciation to the Virgin; 

f. 34v, Visitation; 

f. 49, Nativity; 

f. 54v, Annunciation to the Shepherds; 

f. 59, Adoration of the Magi;

f. 63v, Presentation at the Temple; 

f. 68, Flight into Egypt;

f. 77, Massacre of the Innocents; 

f. 81, David in Prayer; 

f. 113, Raising of Lazarus. 

Anne-Marie Legaré attributes this manuscript to the Master of Marguerite de Liedekerke in her detailed study of this illuminator, active in Hainaut c.1482-1502; she includes our manuscript as no. 4 in a corpus of eighteen manuscripts (Legaré, 2005). Legaré named this anonymous artist after an Antiphonal that he illuminated for the abbess of the Benedictine abbey of Forest, Marguerite de Liedekerke (Westmalle, Abbaye des Trappistes, MS 9). His figural style includes elderly men with round cheeks and square, bearded chins, and, for most figures, faces painted with straight, pinched mouths, full eyelids, and black dots for the pupils of the eyes, often directed downward, as in the Massacre on f. 77 (Legaré 2005, p. 409). The strewn-borders in our manuscript include branches crossed in the form of a St. Andrew’s cross and entwined by the branches and offshoots, some of which develop into acanthus leaves (ff. 13, 54v; Fig. 1, Westmalle, Abbaye des Trappistes, MS 9, vol. IV, f. 110v), or branches twisted into the continuous links of figure eights (f. 21). The branches are painted in relief, casting shadows on the background, and are modelled with horizontal lines traced in close succession with white or gold paint. This decorative motif is found so often in our artist’s work that Legaré calls it a mark of his workshop (Legaré, 2005, p. 410).  Another tell-tale “signature” of the Master of Marguerite de Liedekerke, found in all the borders of our manuscript, is a red rose in full bloom revealing the yellow stamen in its center, its petals outlined in gold (Legaré, 2005, p. 410; Fig. 1). 

The activity of the Master of Marguerite de Liedekerke can be localized to Valenciennes in Hainaut by his style, clients, and his collaborator, the Master of Antoine Rolin. He painted manuscripts for the high nobility and clergy based in Hainaut, including Henri de Berghes, Marguerite de Liedekerke, Charles I de Lalaing, Antoine Rolin and his wife Marie d’Ailly, Adolphe de Clèves, Jean II de Oettingen, and Jean Barbet, connétable des pelletiers of Mons (Legaré, 2005, pp. 410-412). Legaré also suggests that the style of this artist shows influence of contemporary woodcut techniques and possibly Germanic illumination, which he may have known through encounters with German monks present in Hainaut at the time (Legaré, 2005, p. 409).      

The bright blue, green, and ochre, which accentuate our artist’s palette of pale pastels, suggest a date for this manuscript towards the second part of his career. However, the ochre used here has not yet taken on the bright yellow/orange hue found in the Liedekerke Antiphonal of 1500-1502, which supports a date in the 1490s. The miniatures in this book demonstrate his enjoyment in depicting architectural details, as seen in the precise and curious construction in wood and stone for the stable at the Nativity and the Adoration (ff. 49 and 59), the stone-carved interior of the temple at the Presentation (f. 63v), and the enchanting timber house built above the city wall at the Massacre (f. 77).

Literature

Legaré, A.-M. “Splendeur de la miniature en Hainaut,” A.-M. Legaré, B. Roy and F. Guichard-Tesson, Le Livre des échecs amoureux, Paris, 1991, pp. 80-91. 

Legaré, A.-M. “The Master of Antoine Rolin: A Hainaut Illuminator Working in the Orbit of Simon Marmion,” Simon Marmion and the Visions of Tondal, Malibu, 1992, pp. 209-222. 

Legaré, A.-M. “L’heritage de Simon Marmion en Hainaut,” Valenciennes aux XIVe et XVe siècles: Art et Histoire, eds. L. Nys and A. Salamagne, Valenciennes, 1996, pp. 201-224. 

Legaré, A.-M. “Du nouveau sur l’enluminure en Hainaut à la fin du Moyen Âge: l’Antiphonaire de l’abbaye de Forest (Westmalle, Abbaye des Trappistes, ms. 9),” Manuscripts in Transition: Recycling Manuscripts, Text and Image, eds. B. Dekeyzer and J. Van der Stock, Leuven, 2005, pp. 407-418. 

Ottosen, K. The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead, Aarhus, 1993.

Smeyers, M. and J. Van der Stock, Flemish Illuminated Manuscripts 1475-1550, Ghent, 1996.

BOH 191

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