Book of Hours, in Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum.Rouen, c. 1450-70




112 leaves, 174 x 130mm, lacking single leaves after ff. 36 and 98, probably with miniatures, else complete. Collation i[12], ii-iii[6], iv[7] (of 8, lacking i), v[8], vi[6], vii-xi[8], xii[7] (of 8, lacking ii), xiii[8], xiv-xv[6], first 12 leaves paginated 1-24 and leaves thereafter are foliated 25-124 (this foliation followed here), 15 lines, ruled in pale red ink, written space 98 x 67mm, written in dark brown ink in a gothic liturgical hand, rubrics in red, Calendar in alternate lines of red and blue with major entries in burnished gold, line-fillers and one- and 2-line initials throughout in burnished gold on red and blue grounds with white tracery, FIVE VERY LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS (4-line) WITH THREE QUARTER ILLUMINATED BORDERS, the initials infilled with coloured foliate designs on highly burnished grounds, the borders with sprays of coloured flowers and acanthus leaves and sweeping hairline stems with tiny gold leaves and a few little coloured flowers, EIGHT LARGE MINIATURES IN FULL BORDERS, the miniatures in arched compartments above large initials and 4 lines of text with 2-sided baguettes and borders of coloured flowers and leaves and hairline stems, some illumination rubbed, profile of David redrawn on f. 82, some upper and outer extremities of illuminated borders slightly cropped, damp-staining on first few pages, occasional smudging, some marks of guards once sellotaped over miniatures, some ink rather rubbed on the rough side of the vellum, generally in reasonably sound state.


A Calendar (f. 1r), in French, including in gold the feast of St. Romanus, patron saint of Rouen; the Gospel Sequences (f. 25r); the Obsecro te (f. 29r, in male form) and the O intermerata; the Hours of the Virgin [Use of Rome], with Matins (f. 37r), Lauds (f. 46r, incorporating Suffrages, including St. Romanus of Rouen), Prime (f. 58r), Terce (f. 63r), Sext (f. 66r), None (f. 68r), Vespers (f. 71r) and Compline (f. 72r) [curiously for Vespers and Compline the scribe failed to leave space for miniatures]; the Hours of the Cross (f. 76r) and the Holy Ghost (f. 79r); the Penitential Psalms (f. 82r) and Litany ( (including SS. Romanus, Mello and Austreberta, all of Rouen); and the Office of the Dead [Use of Rouen], with Vespers (f. 89r), Matins (f. 91v) and Lauds (f. 120v). 


The miniatures are:   

1. Folio 46r, The Visitation, arch-topped miniature, 93 mm by 65 mm, set by the foot of a hill with a view behind of a walled medieval city beside a broad river, resembling Rouen on the Seine.

2. Folio 58r, The Nativity, arch-topped miniature, 93 mm by 68 mm, a night scene set under a partially ruined canopy built by a gothic castle, with Joseph entering through a wattle fence and sheltering a candle from the wind; the border includes a dragon.  

3. Folio 63r, The Annunciation to the Shepherds, arch-topped miniature, 93 mm by 66 mm, one shepherd dancing while another lies playing a pipe to a shepherdess; pastoral landscape and angels in the sky with a scroll "Gloria in excelsis deo"; the border includes a snail.  

4. Folio 66r, The Adoration of the Magi, arch-topped miniature, 93 mm by 66 mm, magnificently dressed kings gathering round the Virgin and Child in a partial stable in a landscape.  

5. Folio 68v, The Presentation in the Temple, arch-topped miniature, 93 mm by 70 mm, with the high priest receiving the Child over a circular altar in a gothic church, watched by Joseph behind and a maid on the left.  

6. Folio 76r, The Crucifixion, arch-topped miniature, 92 mm by 68 mm, with Christ between the two thieves in a landscape, with a crowd of saints on the left and soldiers on the right; the border includes a grotesque centaur with a bow and arrow.  

7. Folio 79r, Pentecost, arch-topped miniature, 90 mm by 67 mm, with the Virgin in the centre of a tapestry-lined room and with Apostles huddled on each side; the border includes flowers in a pot and a little dragon.  

8. Folio 82r, David in prayer, arch-topped miniature, 91 mm by 68 mm, set outside the fine medieval gatehouse of a palace, viewed end-on with diminishing perspective; the border includes a naturalistic toad.

Modern binding in the French 18th century style of tan calf with triple gilt fillets on covers and spine richly gilt in compartments.

An excellent example of illumination produced in Rouen from the middle of the 15th century with superb miniatures attributed to Master of the Échevinage de Rouen.

Until 1450, Rouen was occupied by the English. After its liberation , the city entered a new period of prosperity and culture and, in the third quarter of the century, a larger number of manuscripts were made in Rouen than in any other city of France, with the probable exception of Paris. The present manuscript belongs to the very beginning of the revival of the fortunes of Rouen. The inclusion of Suffrages into Lauds is a feature of Sarum Use, and is probably a textual survival from the English occupation.

The miniatures here were attributed by Professor König in 1989 to the early hand of the Master of the Échevinage de Rouen (or Master of the Geneva Latini), named for the impressive manuscripts he painted for the Bibliothèque des Echevins in Rouen. Its strongest influences are from Paris, from the work of the Dunois Master and (especially) the Cöetivy Master, once thought to be Henri de Vulcup but perhaps more probably identifiable as Colin d’Amiens (cf. esp. François Avril & Nicole Reyaud in Les manuscrits à peintures en France, 1440-1520, 1993, pp. 58-69). The miniature of King David is close to the Coëtivy style and – especially – colouring.  


1. Sotheby’s sale 1 December 1987, lot 65 to Tenschert.  

2. J.R. Ritman, private collection, bought from Tenschert, Leuchtendes Mittelalter I, cat. 21 (1989), pp. 520-25, no. 73.  

3. Sotheby's sale A Selection of Illuminated Manuscripts ... the Property of Mr J.R. Ritman, 6 July 2000, lot 25.

4. Private Collection.

Stock Code: 250121

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