This unusually massive manuscript containing an Hours and a Psalter is beautifully illuminated by Jean Coene IV, one of the leading illuminators in Paris, who worked primarily for distinguished members of the royal circle. Here, the patron, a Domincan nun, appears in the miniatures of the Lamentation. The numerous texts it contains are atypical of a Book of Hours, and some are rare. The manuscript is in exceptionally fine condition and has an exquisite, modern binding in perfect condition.
ii (modern paper) + 256 + ii (modern paper) folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil, 1-256, complete (collation: i-xxxii8), no signatures or catchwords, ruled in red ink (justification 150 x 90 mm.), written in brown ink in gothic cursive bookhand (bastarda) in single column, ff. 1-43v on 33 lines, ff. 44-256v on 22 lines, rubrics in red, 1-2-line initials in liquid gold on grounds alternating in red and blue (or divided into the two colors), matching line-fillers in red and/or blue with ornamentation in liquid gold, several very fine 4-line initials in blue or light pink with white penwork on grounds in liquid gold or red in-filled with flowers or with the body of the initial in liquid gold on blue grounds with penwork in liquid gold, FOUR LARGE FINELY EXECUTED MINIATURES painted with bright colors and highlighted with generous use of liquid gold, two of the miniatures within Renaissance architectural borders, very few minor signs of use, in overall exceptionally fine condition. Bound in the early twentieth century in Antwerp by Laurent Peeters (1879-1955; signature inside the front cover “L.PEETERS.BOEKE.ANTW.”) in red morocco, both covers richly gold tooled with interlacing geometric pattern, foliage and fleurons in a central lozenge and corners, spine with five raised bands, gold tooled with fleurons and entitled in gilt “HORAE”, bright red pastedowns and end leaves in tissue, in excellent condition. Dimensions 194 x 125 mm.
1. The manuscript was made in Paris c. 1505-1515, most probably for use at the Dominican convent of St. Louis de Poissy; the original owner, a Domincan nun, is depicted in the miniature on f. 28. The Calendar on ff. 42-47v includes the following local saints: St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris (3 Jan, in red), St. Lupus, bishop of Sens (1 Sept, in red), St. Marcel, bishop of Paris (26 July, 3 Nov), St. Germain, bishop of Paris (27 May), and St. Landry, bishop of Paris (10 June). Furthermore, the litany of the virgins ends with St. Genevieve (f. 207), and the selected prayers on ff. 68-72v include prayers to the Parisian saints Genevieve and Germain (ff. 70v-71v). In addition, the hymns for the liturgical year include three hymns for the feast celebrating the Crown of thorns relic, held at the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris (ff. 235-236v).
The Dominican use of the manuscript is revealed by the Dominican habit worn by the nun on f. 28, and by the three feasts of St. Dominic included in the calendar on 23 May (usually 24 May, Translation), 3 July and 4 August (usually 5 Aug). Moreover, Books of Hours following the Dominican use often begin with Passion sequences, as is the case for our manuscript, rather than with the calendar, which is more common (the order of the texts in our manuscript may be compared to the contemporary Dominican Book of Hours made for Frederic of Aragon, Paris, BnF, MS lat. 10532, cf. Leroquais 1927, I, pp. VII, 328-332).
The calendar in our manuscript includes the feast of St. Louis (25 Aug), the patron saint of the Dominican convent at Poissy, as well as the feasts of all other saints and liturgical events celebrated at Poissy, to whom and which altars were dedicated at the church of Saint-Louis de Poissy, including the Assumption of the Virgin, St. Augustine, St. Maur, St. Martin, St. Denis, St. Stephen, St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Blaise, St. Sebastian, St. Yves, St. John the Baptist, St. James, St. Catherine, St. Mary Madgalene, St. Martha, and St. Anne. Moreover, hymns were copied for the feasts of these saints on ff. 212-254v, including several for the feast of St. Louis on ff. 237-239.
The miniatures can be attributed to the Parisian illuminator Jean Coene IV, who painted another contemporary manuscript for the Dominican convent of St. Louis de Poissy (see below).
2. A table of Dominical letters and an almanac were added to the ruled but otherwise empty leaves, ff. 38-41v, around 1529-30.
ff. 1-12, Little Office of the Passion, incipit, “Domine labia mea aperies…”, followed by for Matins Invitatory psalm 94, hymn “In passione Domini qua datur salus homini”, Ps. 87, lesson (Non erat ei species…), canticle “Te Christum laudamus”, Ps. 58, hymn “Christum ducem qui per crucem redemit nos ab hostibus”, canticle “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel”, prayer “Domine Jesu Christe qui hora matutinali per salute humana…”, and antiphons, capitula, versicles, responses, and a benediction; Ps. 2 for Prime; Ps. 108 for Terce; Ps. 21 for Sext; Ps. 68 for None; Ps. 56 for Vespers; Ps. 40 for Compline;
ff. 12v-16, Passion of Christ according to Matthew, rubric, “S’ensuit la passion de nostre seigneur jesus christ. Pour le dimanche de Pasques flories. Passio domini nostri jesu christi. Secundum Matheum.”;
ff. 16-19v, Passion of Christ according to Mark, rubric, “La passion nostre seigneur. Pour le mardy. Passio domini nostri jesu christi. Secundum Marcum.”;
ff. 19v-23, Passion of Christ according to Luke, rubric, “La passion nostre seigneur. Pour le mercredy. Passio domini nostri jesu christi. Secundum Lucam.”;
ff. 23-26, Passion of Christ according to John, rubric, “La passion nostre seigneur. Pour le vendredy saint. Passio domini nostri jesu christi. Secundum Johannem.”;
ff. 26-27v, Prayers in Latin for the Church, the pope, bishops, priests, deacons and all ecclesiastic staff, “Et pro christianissimo imperatore nostro”, catechumens, heretics and schismatics, perfidious Jews and pagans;
f. 27v, Prayer to the three Kings, rubric, “Oraison des trois Roys”, incipit, (note the spelling of Gaspar) “Rex Jaspar. Rex Melchior. Rex Balthasar...”;
ff. 27v-30v, Office de Notre Dame de Pitié, rubric, “S’ensuit l’office nostre dame de pitie en francoys. Et premierement. A matines. Invitatoyre.”, incipit, “Tous vrais catholicques...”;
ff. 30v-32v, Prayers and abbreviated offices: f. 30v, rubric, “Memoyre de la tres glorieuse et saint trinite. Pere, Filz et saint esprit. Antienne.”, incipit, “Benoiste et tres souveraine trinite...”; f. 31, Gospel sequence according to Matthew, in Latin; ff. 31v-32, rubric, “Pour les jour des Roys. A matines.”, incipit, “Actum est eum baptizaretur...”; f. 32r-v, rubric, “De la saincte face nostre seigneur jesuchrist. Salve Sancta facies...”; f. 32v, added later, rubric, “Les oraisons sainct gregoyre. Pater noster. Ave Maria. Et y a pour ceulx qui devostement diront ces oraisons xxii. mille. xiii. ans. et. xiii. jours de pardons.”; f. 33r-v, abbreviated office, rubric, “Les heures de la trinite. A matines.”, incipit, “Domine labia...”; ff. 33v-35, abbreviated office, rubric, “Heures des Anges. A matines.”, incipit, “Domine labia...”; ff. 35-36, abbreviated office, rubric, “Les heures des saincts et sainctes. A matines.” incipit, “Domine labia...”; ff. 36v-38, ruled, otherwise blank;
f. 38, added later, c. 1529-30, table of Dominical letters, beginning for the year 1530, incipit, “C’est une table pour congnoistre a tousjours la lectre dominicalle et le bissexte. Et se commance en l’annee mil cinq cens trente...”;
ff. 39-41v, added later, c. 1529-30, Perpetual Almanac for finding the dates of movable feasts, in French, incipit, “Cy apres s’ensuit ung almanach qui dure a tousjours perpetuellement Pour savoir trouver et congroinstre les festes mobilles de toute l’annee...”;
ff. 42-47v, Calendar in French, use of Paris;
f. 48r-v, Three prayers, two in Latin, one in French: f. 48, rubric, “S’ensuit une oraison a dieu nostre createur, laquelle est moulte devoste et proffitable a tous ceulx et celles qui devostement la diront.”, incipit, “Deus propicius esto michi peccatori...”; f. 48v, rubric, “Oraison a nostre seigneur jesuchrist.”, incipit, “Domine jesu christe adoro te illius gaudii...”; f. 48v, rubric, “Oraison a la vierge marie.”, incipit, “Glorieuse dame debonaire, de toutes vertus l’exemplaire...”;
ff. 49-52v, Short Hours of the Conception of the Virgin, rubric, “Heures de la conception nostre dame”, incipit, “Domine labia mea aperies...”;
ff. 53-54v, Short Hours of the Nativity of Christ, rubric, “Heures de la nativite nostre seigneur.”, incipit, “Domine labia mea aperies...”;
ff. 54v-56, Short Hours of the Holy Sacrament, rubric, “Heures du sainct sacrement. A matines”, incipit, “Domine labia mea aperies...”;
f. 56v, ruled, otherwise blank;
ff. 57-62v, Seven Psalms and Litany of the Virgin, rubric, “S’ensuivent les sept pseaulmes Avec la letanie a l’honneur et lovange de la glorieuse vierge marie. Et sont bien devostes et fort contemplatives.”, incipit, “Domina ne in furore...”;
ff. 63-64v, Five Sorrows of the Virgin (Cinq douleurs Notre Dame), no rubric, incipit, “A celon que on dit et qu’il est trouve en la vie saint Jehan l’evangeliste, nostre seigneur jesuchrist, apres son ascention s’aparut a sa doulce mere qui encor vivoit, et la consola et conforta moult doulcement et parlerent ensemble de plusieurs choses...”;
ff. 64v-66v, Five prayers in Latin with rubrics in French, beginning with rubric, “La premiere oraison”, incipit, “Mediatrix omnium et fons vivus...”;
ff. 66v-67v, Prayer in French to the Holy Sacrament, rubric, “Oraison du sainct sacrement”, incipit, “Je te salue tressainct et tresprecieulx corps de mon createur...”;
f. 67v, Prayer in French to Christ, rubric, “Oraison a nostre seigneur”, incipit, “Sire jesuchrist qui ceste tressacree chair prins ou ventre de la glorieuse vierge marie...”;
ff. 68-72v, Antiphons for the days of the week and for Easter, rubric, “S’ensuivent les anthiennes de nostre dame pour tous les jours de la sepmaine. Et premierement pour le dimenche.”, incipit, “Alma redemptoris mater...”; followed by prayers to the female saints Martha, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Egypt and Genevieve, for peace, to saint Gervais, a prayer to five male saints (Denis, George, Christopher, Blaise, Gilles), a prayer to five female saints (Catherine, Margaret, Martha, Christine, Barbara), a prayer to be said before taking Eucharist, and a prayer to be said when one receives it;
ff. 73-193, Psalter, complete with psalms 1-150;
ff. 193-205v, Liturgical canticles, hymns and Athanasian Creed: Confitebor (Isaiah 12), Ego dixi (Isaiah 38:10-21), Exultavit (1 Kings 2:1-11), Cantemus (Exodus 15:1-20), Domine audivi (Habakkuk 3), Audite celi (Deut. 32:1-44), Benedicte omnia, Benedictus dominus, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis, Te Deum, Quicumque Vult;
ff. 205v-210v, Litanies, followed by prayers;
f. 211r-v, ruled, otherwise blank;
ff. 212-254v, Hymns for the entire year, beginning and ending in Advent, rubric, “S’ensuivent les hymnes communes et solempnelles de toute l’annee. Et premierement Pour l’advent de noel. Hymnus.”, incipit, “Conditor alme syderum eterna lux credentium...”;
ff. 255-256v, Prayer, rubric, “Oraison tresdevoste a dieu nostre createur.”, incipit, “Creator celi et terre... Qui vivis et regnas deus per omnia secula seculorum. Amen”.
Four large miniatures:
f. 1, Betrayal of Christ;
f. 28, Lamentation over the Dead Christ;
f. 49, Meeting at the Golden Gate;
f. 73, King David in prayer.
A decorated 4-line initial begins the first psalm at Matins on each weekday, except for Wednesday, where the initial was seemingly forgotten, and a rubric was added to mark the beginning of psalms for Wednesday. While it was common to include an initial for the first psalm at Sunday Vespers, here there are also decorated initials for Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday Vespers. The division of the psalms by decoration follows the secular use for a Ferial Psalter (which was followed by the mendicant orders, including the Dominicans), with 4-line initials for psalms 1 (f. 73, Sunday Matins), 26 (f. 91, Monday Matins), 38 (f. 102v, Tuesday Matins), 68 (f. 125, Thursday Matins), 80 (f. 139, Friday Matins), 97 (f. 151v, Saturday Matins; “Sabato / le samedi” written in a small contemporary hand in the margin), 109 (f. 165, Sunday Vespers), 121 (f. 178v, Tuesday Vespers), 131 (f. 181v, Thursday Vespers). It is interesting to note that the decorator got confused in painting some of the 1- and 2-line initials in liquid gold, painting incorrect letters on the prepared grounds. Small initials in red ink were added to the margins next to the erroneous golden initials. These were probably inserted by the makers of the manuscript before the book was presented to the owner; the corrections are done very discreetly in a professional script.
This Book of Hours is not at all typical in its contents and could equally be called a Psalter with short offices and prayers. It includes numerous little-known prayers in French, some of which may be unique. It leaves out the most common text in Books of Hours, the Hours of the Virgin, but instead contains several lesser known Hours, such as those of the Holy Trinity, the Angels and the Conception of the Virgin. These texts relate to specific liturgical practices at the Dominican convent of Saint-Louis de Poissy. Among the altars in the convent church, there are altars dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the Angels and the Nativity of the Virgin, and the feast of the latter was celebrated by a procession of the nuns; these liturgical details explain the occurrence of certain texts in our manuscript. Moreover, the Virgin’s birth receives special attention in that the Hours of the Conception of the Virgin are introduced by a miniature of the Meeting at the Golden Gate, in which Joachim and Anne embrace rejoicing that she will bear a child (f. 49).
The miniature of the Lamentation over the Dead Christ (f. 28) includes a portrait of the manuscript’s first owner, a Dominican nun, whose words “O Mater Dei Memento Mei” are written on a speech scroll near her mouth. She kneels before the scene holding a rosary and her prayerbook is lying on the ground. Notably the book is bound in gold-tooled red leather raising the question whether the current modern binding imitates the original. In the miniature, the central figure of the Virgin Mary supports the dead body of her son on her kneels, surrounded by John, who supports his head, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who present the nails and the crown, and Mary Magdalene holding her ointment jar. This miniature, and the three others, may be attributed to Jean Coene IV, an illuminator active in Paris around 1490-1520 (see Airaksinen-Monier 2016). In scholarship he was initially known as the Master of the Paris Entries, for he was responsible for painting manuscripts describing the coronations and entries into the capital of two French queens, Mary Tudor in 1514, and Claude de France in 1517. His style is marked by a tendency to outline his figures and other major forms with black lines. The figures are clothed in richly colored garments painted with minimal modeling, often with black lines accentuating sharp folds and with generous highlights of liquid gold. Skin is modeled, and facial features - the long eyebrows, downward curve of the mouth and half-closed eyes - are drawn in black with a narrow brush. The miniatures are often framed by borders that are carefully constructed in space and decorated with Renaissance ornaments; see ff. 49 and 73 in our manuscript.
Our manuscript is very close stylistically to a contemporary Processional that Jean Coene IV painted for an unknown nun at Poissy, Les Enluminures TM 1019 (see Online resources). The two manuscripts may have been made for the same patron. The royal convent of Saint-Louis in Poissy, founded by Philip the Fair of France (r. 1285-1314), was a prestigious religious house reserved for women of noble birth. Given the high quality of our manuscript, the standard of the illumination and the amount of gold used, it is likely that the book was made for a nun coming from an important French family.
Airaksinen-Monier, K. “Livre d'heures à l'usage de Paris,” Trésors Enluminés de Normandie: Une (re)découverte, N. Hatot and M. Jacob (eds), Rennes, 2016, no. 43, pp. 179-180.
Avril, F. and N. Reynaud. Les manuscrits à peintures en France: 1440-1520, Paris, 1993.
Delaunay, I. Échanges artistiques entre livres d’heures manuscrits et imprimés produits à Paris (vers 1480-1500), PhD thesis, Université Paris IV, Paris, 2000, 3 vols.
Delaunay, I. “Le Maître des entrées parisiennes,” Art de l’enluminure, 2008, 26, pp. 52-62.
Leroquais, V. Les livres d’heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale, 3 vols, Paris, 1927.
Moreau-Rendu, S. Le Prieuré royal de Saint-Louis de Poissy, Colmar, 1968.
Naughton, J. "Manuscripts from the Dominican monastery of Saint-Louis de Poissy," 2 vols, PhD thesis, The University of Melbourne, 1995.
Orth, M. Renaissance Manuscripts: The Sixteenth Century, 2 vols., A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France, Turnout and London, 2015.
Sonet, J. Répertoire d'incipit de prières en ancien français, Geneva, 1956.
Les Enluminures TM 1019: https://www.textmanuscripts.com/medieval/poissy-processional-141375
Joan Naughton’s thesis "Manuscripts from the Dominican monastery of Saint-Louis de Poissy": https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/39437