MS. Ashmole 1291
Summary Catalogue no.: 8224
Book of Hours, Use of Rome. Flemish (probably Bruges), with inserted miniatures (Dutch, Brabant?); 15th century, second quarter
Language(s): Latin and Middle Low German with some Middle Dutch
Consisting of 17 rows of 19 columns of 23 letters (a–z, omitting j, u, and w) and a few abbreviation signs, the last two column with the signs of the zodiac from Leo to Pisces (July–March), and indications ‘malum’, ‘bonum’, or ‘medium’.
Sparse and ungraded; major feasts (in red) include St Basil, to whom a chapel is dedicated in Bruges (14 June), Remigius and Bavo, to the latter of whom the cathedral of Ghent is dedicated (1 October), Donatien, to whom Bruges cathedral is dedicated (14 October); Dominic (5 August) and Francis (4 October) are included as ordinary feasts.
Using masculine forms: ‘concede michi queso indigno famulo tuo’. This prayer usually follows, not precedes, the Verses.
With inserted miniatures facing the start of Lauds (fol. 66r), Sext (fol. 82r), None (fol. 85r), Vespers (fol. 87v), and Compline (fol. 92), but not Prime (fol. 75v) or Terce (fol. 78v).
In the lower margin of fol. 97v is added in Netherlandish(?) ‘God ghorai(?) Gidion contra(?) …(?)’
Added text in Netherlandish
Pss. 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142, as usual.
Quintinus added below the martyrs; Mary of Egypt added in the margin near the top of the list of virgins next to Mary Magdalene, and at the bottom, Sts Gertrude (‘gerdrut’), Appolonia, Wilgefortis (‘ontkomer’), Quale (i.e. perhaps Sinte Kwale / Kwaale, Dutch for Holy Sickness), and Bridget twice (‘brigida’, ‘brigitta’); after ‘Omnes sancte virgines’is added ‘et wid’ (i.e. viduae; fol. 109v).
The last few lines only. The prayer usually begins ‘Domine Ihesu Christe qui septem verba die ultimo vite tue in cruce pendens dixisti …’ (cf. MS. Buchanan g. 1, fols. 255r–257v)
The popular hymn, here laid out as verse.
Perhaps bound out of place and out of sequence.
Apparently a single devotion composed of several prayers, perhaps including the next two:
Suffrages to saints: Sts Nicholas, John the Baptist, Margaret, Erasmus, Gertrude, Eligius, Peter & Paul, Anne, George, Dorothy, Anthony, Katherine, Christopher, Apollonia, and Clare:
The word after ‘qui’ is obscured by offset pigment; it is not ‘hodiernam’, the word usually found in this prayer.
Ruled space 55 × 35 mm. Three ruling patterns correspond to the three main scribes:
(i) ruled in mauve or pale red ink for 17 lines per page;
(ii) perhaps also ruled in mauve, but diluted to the point of appearing grey, 15 lines per page;
(iii) ruled in brown ink for 10 lines per page.
Gothic textualis, by three main scribes: (i) most of the text is by one scribe, (ii) another wrote the Hours of the Holy Spirit (fols. 16–39), but their decoration appears to be identical, and thus they were doubtless contemporaries; (iii) a third scribe added the final text, fols. 196–212.
Five- to seven-line illuminated foliated initials and full borders at major textual divisions.
Two-line illuminated initials in gold on pink and blue grounds, for Psalms, hymns, etc.
One-line initials alternately gold with blue penwork, or blue with red penwork, to verses.
Thirty-two (of an original thirty five?) full-page miniatures, on inserted leaves (either blank on the reverse or with later added prayers), face the start of most major textual divisions:
- (fol. 15v) Pentecost
- (fol. 40v) The Mass of St Gregory; Gregory attended by a cardinal(?)
- (fol. 45v) The Annunciation; the Virgin reading at a prie-dieu, turning to Gabriel who approaches from the right (cf. fol. 150v)
- (fol. 56v) The Agony in the Garden
- (fol. 65v) The Betrayal
- (fol. 81v) Christ Carrying the Cross
- (fol. 84v) The Crucifixion
- (fol. 88r) The Deposition
- (fol. 93r) The Entombment
- (fol. 99v) The Last Judgement
- (fol. 112v) Funeral Service
- (fol. 138v) St John the Evangelist blessing the chalice of poison
- (fol. 142v) St Michael
- (fol. 144v) St Barbara
- (fol. 146v) St Alexis, holding a book and a sceptre(?)
- (fol. 148v) St Odulphe, holding a book, standing next to a well
- (fol. 150v) The Annunciation (almost exactly like that on fol. 45v)
- (fol. 165v) St Nicholas
- (fol. 167v) St John the Baptist
- (fol. 169v) St Margaret
- (fol. 171v) St Erasmus
- (fol. 174v) St Gertrude of Nivelles
- (fol. 176v) St Eligius
- (fol. 177a v) St Paul
- (fol. 178v) St Peter
- (fol. 181v) St George
- (fol. 183v) St Dorothy
- (fol. 185v) St Anthony
- (fol. 187v) St Katherine
- (fol. 189v) St Christopher
- (fol. 191v) St Apollonia
- (fol. 193v) St Clare
Miniatures of Christ before Pilate and the Flagellation presumably once faced (or were intended to face) the start of Prime and Terce in the Hours of the Virgin, and a stub suggests that an excised miniature once faced the suffrage to St Anne. Twenty-five of the miniatures can be attributed to a follower of the Master of Otto van Moerdrecht, known as the Master of Peter Danielssoen (alias the Master of the Morgan Spiegel, or the Master of Morgan Library MS. M.868), to whom are also attributed the miniatures in MS. Rawl. Liturg. e. 10, by James Marrow, in W. H. Beuken and J. H. Marrow, Spiegel van den leven ons Heren = Mirror of the life of our Lord: diplomatic edition of the text and facsimile of the 42 miniatures of a 15th century typological life of Christ in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York (Doornspijk, 1979), pp. 69–97 at 84, 86, 87, 89, 93, 94 n. 76. He may have been itinerant: he contributed to other manuscripts with texts in French, and other features suggest both the southern Netherlands and northern France, but it was also common for Dutch miniatures to be exported to other areas. Even if he later worked further south, Marrow suggests that the artist may have trained in the northern Netherlands, and that the present miniatures, stylistically his earliest, may have been produced there; their borders are Dutch in style. The Master of Peter Danielssoen is named after a manuscript written in 1457 by Peter Danielsoen van Dordrecht, a monk of the double Brigittine monastery at Mariënwater, near ’s-Hertogenbosch, in Brabant, at the boundary between the southern and northern Netherlands (Uden, Museum voor den Religieuze Kunst, MS. BM 400; on which see J. H. Marrow and others, The golden age of Dutch manuscript painting (exh. cat., New York, 1990), no. 26).
These twenty-five miniatures can be divided into two groups, perhaps indicating the involvement of two illuminators. Eleven miniatures have a narrow outer orange frame and a wider inner blue or green frame that only extends around three sides (open at the bottom); in the remaining fourteen, each miniature has a narrow gold outer frame and a narrow inner frame of red, blue, or both colours, which extends around all four sides.
Six miniatures are characterised by a gold background with black lattice pattern: Sts Michael, Alexis, Odulphe, Gertrude, Eligius, and Clare; and to this group can be added the Pentecost miniature, because it has the same borders of gold leaves on thin black-ink stems (very unlike the borders of the twenty-five attributed to the Master or Peter Danielssoen). This group of miniatures includes those with the most unusual subjects, suggesting that while the common compositions were available from the existing stock of an illuminator or bookseller, the more unusual ones had to be specially commissioned. (The use of the image of St John the Evangelist to face the prayer to All Saints, and the use of two nearly identical miniatures of the Annunciation, also suggests that the book was largely illustrated using miniatures that were already available).
Bound in with 17th(?)-century brown (sheepskin?) leather over pasteboards; rebacked, with shelfmark in gilt. Rust-stained holes at the fore-edge of the last several leaves were doubtless caused by the metal fitting of a clasp-fitting.
A number written by ballpoint pen, perhaps ‘4. 18 33’, probably records the date of a repair (lower pastedown, bottom left corner).
Provenance and Acquisition
The calendar and minor decoration suggests that the book was produced in Bruges; it was not written in the expectation that the present miniatures would be inserted, as can be seen by the fact that the individual hours of the Virgin do not all start on a new page, and the inserted miniatures therefore sometimes interrupt the text. Similarly, the miniatures do not all seem to have been executed for insertion into this volume, as can be seen by the fact that the prayer to Sts Peter and Paul has two separate miniatures, one for each saint.
The added double invocation to St Bridget in the litany (fol. 109r) suggests a possible connection with a Brigittine house such as Mariënwater, at ’s Hertogenbosch (founded 1434), in Brabant (cf. Decoration).
‘Wyllyam Hodson’, 16th-century, English (fols. 19v, 111v, 112r, 188v, 199v).
Theodore de Jordane, 16th/17th-century, inscribed ‘Theodore de | Jordane his book | his book god | give him gra | ace therein [to] | looke and’ (fol. 190v; cf. 185r).
Bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and transferred in 1860 to the Bodleian Library. Former Bodleian shelfmarks ‘A 1291’, with ‘1814’ added above and ‘523’ below, in paler ink (fol. 212v).
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Last Substantive Revision
2021-05-20: Description fully revised for Polonsky German digitization project.