Paris continued as a center even after the English occupation in the 1420s, and this Book of Hours illuminated c. 1450 by a member of the workshop or circle of the Master of the Munich Golden Legend (fl. c. 1420-1460) stands out as a good example of Parisian art after the Limbourg Brothers and Bouciaut Master.  A nobleman pictured on folio 174, kneeling before the Virgin with Saint Barbara and Angels, commissioned the book.  Small-scale Calendar medallions enrich the manuscript with vignettes of the Zodiac and the Labors of the Month.  Playful scenes of birds, animals, and wild women set within acanthus vines tooled with gold leaf fill the finely painted borders. 

ii (modern paper) + 203 + ii (modern paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, 1-203, missing 1 leaf before fol. 98 (collation impracticable), written in brown ink in bâtarde script on 14 lines, single column, Calendar written in red, gold, and blue, ruled in red ink (justification 56 × 41 mm), red rubrics, 1-line initials alternating in blue and gold, 2- and 3-line initials painted in blue with white highlights and enclosing swirls of colored foliage on burnished gold grounds, most pages with decorated border panels of colored and gilt acanthus leaves and stylized foliage terminating in leaves and seedpods, Calendar with each leaf decorated with foliate border panels and TWENTY-FOUR VIGNETTES in roundels in bas-de-page with alternating zodiac symbols and labors of the month set within borders of loosely intertwined colored vines and colored foliage, TWENTY-FIVE SMALL ARCHED-TOPPED MINIATURES set within gold frames with three-quarter decorated borders, ONE HISTORIATED INITIAL set within a gold frame with three-quarter decorated borders of foliage as before, FIVE THREE-QUARTER PAGE MINIATURES set within gold frames with colored foliage surrounding text, all within a full decorated border of foliage as before, all growing from green pastures at foot of bas-de-page (many with trees set in corners) the foliage enclosing birds and on one leaf a phoenix rising from the ashes of a fire and an erased coat of arms suspended from a tree and supported by two hairy wildwomen sitting within a wickerwork enclosure, some chipping to a few miniatures and small thumbing in a few places, a few leaves with slight cockling, otherwise in good condition. Eighteenth-century morocco binding over pasteboards, gilt tooled with arms of Prondre de Guermantes below a ducal coronet and supported by lions rampant on both boards (see below), and gilt spine with monogram formed from initials “PP” beneath coronets in each compartment with floral stamps, title gilt: “Heures” set within hearts, gilt edges, splits at edges of boards and small losses from edges (especially foot of spine), but overall solid in binding, in card dropbox. Dimensions 118 × 86 mm,


1. Written and illuminated in Paris around the year 1450. Note the prominence of Saint Geneviève (patron of the city) in gold on January 3 in the Calendar. The original patron appears in the miniature accompanying the prayer Ave alius conceptio on folio 174, fashionably dressed with a sword and kneeling in devotion before the Virgin and Child with this book open before him. His coat-of-arms is painted in the border but has been erased by a later owner. It is surmounted by a helm and a phoenix perched in a tree and supported by hairy wildwomen within a withy enclosure.

2. Paulin Prondre de Guermantes et de Bussy (1650-1723), seigneur de Guermantes, Conseiller secrétaire du roi, receiver general for Lyons, president of the Chambre des comptes in Paris, and celebrated French bibliophile. Gilt armorial binding and perhaps inscribed with his pen “no. 4862” on the first flyleaf. At the opening of the eighteenth century, he reconstructed the palace at Guermantes to the immediate west of Paris, and, among other collections, housed his vast library there. His dynastic line went extinct in 1805, and the contents of the library were widely dispersed.

3. Hannah Eliza Roscoe (née Caldwell; 1785-1854). Received as a gift from her famous father-in-law, William Roscoe (1753-1831), the prominent abolitionist of the slave trade, art collector, writer on Lorenzo de Medici and, briefly, Member of Parliament for Liverpool, whose extensive book collection – including a Shakespeare first folio, two block books, printing by Gutenberg, Furst, & Schoeffer and Sweynhem & Pannartz, and a small collection of manuscripts – was sold by Winstanley of Liverpool on August 19, 1816. Her inscription to front flyleaf records that the gift was made on the occasion of her marriage in 1818 (to Roscoe’s eldest son William Stanley), as well as noting that she wrote the inscription in 1851 when she was 65 years old. The date “1819 28 Mai” added in her hand at the end of text.

4. Thereafter in the English-speaking trade, with notes on contents added in English by mid-twentieth-century hand to first flyleaf.


ff. 1-12, Calendar (Paris), in red, blue, and gold; 

f. 13, blank folio;

ff. 14-21v, Gospel Sequences;

ff. 22-26v, Prayer to the Virgin: Obsecro te;

ff. 27-31v, Prayer to the Virgin: O intemerata;

ff. 32-97v, Hours of the Virgin: Matins (ff. 32-58), Lauds (ff. 58v-70), Prime (ff. 71-76v), Terce (ff. 77-80v), Sext (ff. 81-84v), Nones (ff. 85-88v), Vespers (ff. 89-92v), and Compline (ff. 93-97v);

f. 98, blank folio;

ff. 99-112, Seven Penitential Psalms, (leaf with miniature, probably David in Prayer, missing between ff. 98 and 99);

ff. 112v-117, The Litanies;  

ff. 118-126, Hours of the Cross;

ff. 127-130v, Hours of the Holy Spirit;

ff. 131-167v, Office of the Dead;

ff. 168-203, Various Suffrages, indulgences, and prayers.


Five large miniatures; subjects as follows:

f. 32, Annunciation to the Virgin, with small birds and a peacock in margin;

f. 117r, Betrayal of Christ, with flying birds in margin;

f. 127, Pentecost, with small birds in margin;

f. 130r, The Resurrection, with birds in margin;

f. 174, Donor Portrait with Virgin and Child and Saint Barbara surrounded by Angels, a peacock, a phoenix, and arms supported by wildwomen in margin.

Twenty-four Calendar vignettes, twenty-five smaller miniatures, one historiated initial; subjects as follows: 

f. 1, Calendar vignette, Feasting (January); 

f. 1v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Aquarius); 

f. 2, Calendar vignette, Planting (February);  

f. 2v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Pisces); 

f. 3, Calendar vignette, Pruning Trees (March); 

f. 3v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Aries); 

f. 4, Calendar vignette, Picking Flowers (April); 

f. 4v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Taurus); 

f. 5, Calendar vignette, Hawking (May); 

f. 5v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Gemini); 

f. 6, Calendar vignette, Hay Harvest (June); 

f. 6v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Cancer);

f. 7, Calendar vignette, Wheat Harvest (July); 

f. 7v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Leo); 

f. 8, Calendar vignette, Wheat Threshing (August); 

f. 8v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Virgo); 

f. 9, Calendar vignette, Grape Harvest (September); 

f. 9v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Libra); 

f. 10, Calendar vignette, Sowing (October);

f. 10v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Scorpio); 

f. 11, Calendar vignette, Gathering Acorns for Pigs (November); 

f. 11v, Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Sagittarius); 

f. 12, Calendar vignette, Butchering Pigs (December); 

f. 12v. Calendar vignette, Zodiac Sign (Capricorn);   

f. 14, Saint John the Evangelist; 

f. 16, Saint Luke; 

f. 18, Saint Matthew;

f. 20v, Saint Mark;

f. 22, Virgin and Child adored by Angels;

f. 27, Pietà;

f. 58v, Visitation; 

f. 71, Nativity; 

f. 77, Annunciation to the Shepherds; 

f. 81, Visitation of the Magi; 

f. 85, Presentation in the Temple; 

f. 89, Flight into Egypt; 

f. 93, Coronation of the Virgin; 

f. 120, Christ before Pilate; 

f. 121, Raising of the Cross; 

f. 123, Crucifixion; 

f. 124, Deposition from the Cross; 

f. 125, Entombment of Christ; 

f. 168, The Trinity; 

f. 169v, Scourging of Christ; 

f. 171, The Mass of Saint Gregory; 

f. 173v, Historiated initial, Golgotha with smalls birds and a peacock in the border;

f. 177, Saint John the Baptist;

f. 178, Saint Christopher;

f. 180, Saint Sebastian;

f. 184, Saint Michael.

These vibrant miniatures enhanced with gold are painted in the style of the Master of the Munich Golden Legend, so named for a copy of the popular hagiographies of Jacobus de 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. The Master began his career in Paris in the workshop of the Bedford Master (fl. c. 1405-1440) and went on to collaborate with some of the most influential artist of the period, including the Dunois Master (fl. 1430-1465) in Paris, the Talbot Master, and the Fastolf Master (fl. 1420-1450) in Rouen. His influence continued into the latter half of the century in the works of painters such as the Master of the Echevinage of Rouen (fl. 1460-1480/90). Although the Master of the Munich Golden Legend may have worked for a time in Normandy and western France (perhaps Brittany) most of his career was centered in Paris. His appealing style, evident from the 1420s to the 1450s, deploys bold areas of color to favor surface pattern over spatial illusion, using line to define contours and model volume through hatching. His later style makes more use of modeling in paint without losing the linearity that made it particularly accessible to imitation.

Despite the selection of small miniatures to open the Hours of the Virgin (perhaps an attempt to economize on the commission) this volume has an impressive array of decoration. In addition to the Calendar with its twenty-four marginal miniatures, the book has twenty-five small miniatures, one historiated initial, and five large miniatures. The donor portrait with Saint Barbara on folio 174 is especially inventive and offers a strong resemblance to Doulce dame miniatures with musician angels painted by the Master of the Munich Golden Legend, such as Walters Museum MS W. 288 (fig. 1). In style, the artist is also close to the Master of the Munich Golden Legend in his handling of the Virgin with a rounded head and light blond hair as seen in Cambridge, University Library, MS Li.VI.23 (fig. 2). Additionally, the choice of the Last Judgment to introduce the Office of the Dead is a hallmark of Books of Hours produced in Paris by both the Master of Dunois and the Master of the Munich Golden Legend in the mid fifteenth-century. Also characteristic are the floral borders with bicolor acanthus, peacocks, and heraldic composition with fences and savage women.

We are grateful to Elliot Adam for expertise.


Unpublished; for the Master of the Munich Golden Legend see:

Avril, François and Nicole Reynaud. Les Manuscrits a peintures en France, 1440-1520, Paris, 1993, p. 170.

Ungeheuer, Laurent. “Le Maître de la Légende dorée du Munich, un émule du Maître de Bedford,” Revue de l’Art 195 (2017), pp. 23-32.

Ungeheuer, Laurent. “Le Maître de la Légende dorée de Munich: Un enlumineur parisien du milieu du XVe siècle, formation, production, influences et collaborations,” PhD diss., Paris École Pratique des hautes études, Paris, 2015.

BOH 190

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