Large-scale manuscript sparkling with gold leaf and associated with one of the most skillful collaborator-follower of the Bedford Master.

Published Book of Hours associated with the skillful Master(s) of the Munich Golden Legend, who collaborated with and then continued the Bedford Master’s work in Paris and perhaps in Rouen, in association with other painters, notably the Parisian Dunois Master.  This large-scale manuscript with rich gold leaf not only for the miniatures but also for the calendar and borders on the text pages was probably customized in Paris for a female patron living in Rouen.

152 folios, complete, mostly in gatherings of 8 (i12, ii6, ix4, xx2), two flyleaves at front and back,  some contemporary quire signatures, some catchwords visible though parchment trimmed, written on 16 long lines in a gothic liturgical bookhand, in brown ink (justification 72 x 109 mm), ruled in red, rubrics in red, versal initials in burnished goldleaf on alternating red and blue grounds with white tracery, line endings in red and blue with white tracery and gold accents, line endings also floral motifs touched with burnished goldleaf accents, 2-line initials in burnished gold on alternating red and blue grounds with white tracery infill, outer margins of nearly each page adorned with gold ivyleaves on hairline stems with floral motifs or acanthus leaves, 12 LARGE THREE-QUARTER PAGE MINIATURES WITH FULL BORDERS, in good condition, the miniatures in arched compartments above 4-line initials marking the beginning of major texts, red or blue on burnished goldleaf grounds with floral infill, with 2-sided illuminated baguettes, blue and red with white tracery and floral motifs on burnished goldleaf grounds, full borders composed of dense rinceaux with gold ivyleaves on hairline stems, some  acanthus leaves,  floral and foliate sprays  and vases, the first full border inhabited by a curious figure associated to wine grapes (bacchant ?) (fol. 27) and the Crucifixion miniature complemented by a representation of the Cross and the Passion instruments set in a crown-like medallion, bottom right hand corner of the border (fol. 79). Nineteenth-century dark green velvet binding, center and corners  adorned with copper bosses, clasps composed of metallic buckles and fine strips of leather. Second flyleaf at the front with a title penned in dark red ink : “Officium Beatae Virginis Mariae,” followed by a small drawing of a bleeding heart. Dimensions c. 197 x 143 mm.


1. The use of both the Hours of the Virgin and the Office of the Dead point directly to the city of Rouen.  In the litany St Romanus. the chief patron of Rouen, is invoked with the Rouen saints Mellon, Aubert, Austreberta and Honorine but Romanus is strikingly absent from the essentially Parisian calendar. It seems more likely, therefore, that the book was made in Paris for the Rouen market or for a Norman resident in the capital. The original owner may well have been a woman since the prayers are predominantly in the feminine

2. Private North American Collection (from Les Enluminures, Catalogue 9, 2000, no. 13.


ff. 1-12, Calendar (predominantly Parisian), in French, in red, blue, and gold leaf.

ff. 13-17v, Gospel Sequences;

f. 18, blank folio;

f. 19-22v, Prayer to the Virgin, “Obsecro te”;

ff. 22v-26, Prayer to the Virgin, “O intemerata”;

ff. 27-78v, Hours of the Virgin,  use of Rouen, Matins  (f.  27), Lauds (f. 37v), Prime  (f. 52v) with ant. “Maria virgo” and cap. “Per te Dei”, Terce (f. 57v), Sext (f. 61), None (f. 64v) with ant. “Pulcra es” and cap. “Et radicari,” Vespers (f. 68), Compline (f. 74);

ff. 47v-52, Suffrages, placed after Lauds of the Virgin : sancta Trinitate (f. 47v), de sancto Michaele (f.48), de sancto Iohanne Baptista (f. 48v), de sancto Petro (f. 48v), de sancto Laurencio (f. 49), de sancto Eustacio (f. 49v), de sancto Nicholao (f. 50), de sancta Katherina (f. 50v), de omnibus sanctis (f. 51v), de Pace (f. 51v);

ff. 79-82v, Short Hours of the Cross;

ff. 83-86, Short Hours of the Holy Spirit;

ff. 87-103, Seven Pentitential Psalms and litanies

ff. 103v-143v, Office of the Dead for the use of Rouen,

ff. 144-148, Fifteen Joys of the Virgin (in French).

ff. 149-152, blank folios.


The subjects of the miniatures are:

f. 27, Annunciation, with a man picking grapes in the margin, a reference to Christ’s Passion;

f. 37v, Visitation;

f. 52v, Nativity;

f. 57v, Annunciation to the Shepards;

f. 61, Adoration of the Magi;

f. 64v, Presentation to the Temple;

f. 68, Flight into Egypt;

f. 74, Coronation of the Virgin;

f. 79, Crucifixion, with the Instruments of the Passion embedded in a decorative crown of thorns in the lower right margin;

f. 83, Pentecost;

f. 87, David in Prayer;

f. 103v, Mass of the Dead.

The richly colored miniatures, with gold enhancing the strong red, blue and green, are generally in the style of the Master of the Munich Golden Legend, named from the copy of of the popular compilation of Jacobus of Voragine’s Golden Legend now in Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. gall. 3.  Forty-eight manuscripts of which forty-one are Books of Hours are attributed to the artist, and of these twenty-five are collaborative projects.  He began in Paris in the workshop of the Bedford Master.  Among the artists with whom he collaborated are the Dunois Master in Paris, the Talbot Master and the Fastolf Master in Rouen, and he influenced the Master of the Echevinage of Rouen (active c. 1460-1480/90).  Although the Master may have worked for a time in Normandy and western France, perhaps Brittany, he was centered in Paris.  His appealing style, evident from the 1420s to the 1450s, deploys bold areas of color to favor of surface pattern over spatial illusion, relying on line to detail, to define contours and to model through hatching. His later style makes more use of modelling in paint without losing the linearity that made it particularly accessible to imitation.

The Master of the Munich Golden Legend varied his compositional patterns to suit different levels of production.  Here, the notional interiors are indicated against diapered gold grounds or, in the case of Pentecost, eliminated entirely so that the figures appear against a textile hanging beneath burnished gold. The generous gilded borders, one adorning every written page, are further demonstrations of the deluxe nature of what was surely a customized production.  Landscapes even when they are cursory are still glinting with gold. The unusual setting for the penitent David, beside a river with three ships, is ultimately derived from van Eyck’s great Rolin Virgin (Paris, Louvre) as transmitted by the Dunois Master (British Library, Yates Thompson MS 3, f.162).

This is a difficult book to localize with certainty.  When we published it in 2000, we ascribed it to Rouen by an artist working in the circle of the Master of the Munich Golden Legend.  Gregory Clark in 2016 included it in the catalogue of this artist’s work (Time of War, p. 230), although he discouraged Laurent Ungeheuer from listing it in his extensive study of the Master’s work in 2015, believing it to be closer to the Bedford Master.  We thank Professor Clark for his recent reconsideration of the manuscript which he does not believe is characteristic of Rouen in the 1430s and 1430s.  On balance, we suggest that the manuscript was painted by an artist (or artists) working in Paris in the style of the Master of the Golden Legend and for a patron in Rouen (the litanies and liturgical use point to that center, and the patron must have been a woman).


Gregory T. Clark, Art in a Time of War: The Master of Morgan 453 and Manuscript Illumination in Paris during the English Occupation (1419–1435), Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 2016, p. 270 (as a work by the Master of the Munich Golden Legend).

See also:
Francois Avril and Nicole Reynaud, Les Manuscrits a peintures en France, 1440-1520, Paris, 1993, p. 170.

Laurent Ungeheuer, “ Le Maitre de la Legende doree du Munich, un emule du Maitre de Bedford,” in Revue de l’Art 195 (2017-1), pp. 23-32.

Laurent Ungeheuer, “Le Maître de la Légende dorée de Munich. Un enlumineur parisien du milieu du XVe siècle, formation, production, influences et collaborations.” Thèse de doctorat d’Histoire de l’Art Paris Ecole Pratique des hautes etudes, Paris, 2015.

BOH 172

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