Saturday 11 May 2019

A Dismembered Book of Hours Once Owned by Count Durrieu

The image above shows a leaf of a manuscript that has puzzled me for some time. I don't recall having seen script and decoration like this anywhere else.

Something about the script -- I cannot put my finger on it -- feels like it might be Spanish, as does the profusion of dense penwork border decoration.

The alternating blue and gold half-fleurs-de-lis feel much more French than Spanish, but this is the sort of simple motif that could be copied easily by a decorator anywhere in Europe. 
[Rotated detail] 
Until now I have only known of the manuscript as single leaves. Here are three in Pirages Catalogue 44 (1999), no. 588:

They were attributed to "Aix or Marseilles, c.1465", which seems curiously precise, and suggests that the cataloguer knew something about the parent volume:

Here are two leaves in more recent dealer catalogue, with the attribution "Probably Italy, late 15th century"; apparently the cataloguer had the same difficulty that I did in deciding where they are from!:

Looking through old catalogues this week I found the parent volume, and so I now know a lot more about it. In Sam Fogg's Catalogue 14 (1991), no. 20, is this:
The strange script and decoration are the same,
but there is a slight cause for doubt because this image shows 17 lines of text, while the leaf shown at the top of this post has only 15.

Any doubt is removed by three factors: (i) both leaves have the same pale-brown ink foliation:
(ii) the accompanying description (see below) states that the pages are written with 15-17 lines; and (iii) one of the black-and-white images above shows a leaf with 15 lines, but the other two have 17 lines.

Not only does the Fogg catalogue show a bound codex with a full-page miniature:
but it also reproduces an added 'diptych' of facing miniatures:
and records that the volume of 211 leaves was apparently complete and still in the remains of its original binding in 1991.

For the record I reproduce below the 1991 description, with its provenance, with includes
  • a member of the Cochon family apparently from Auxerre ("daucerre") but living in Rennes; 
  • a Leo Olschki catalogue in 1910; and 
  • Count Paul Durrieu (d.1925) [fr.Wikipedia]
Using keywords from what we now now about the manuscript, we can find several leaves online, including one of the full-page miniatures reproduced by Fogg:
and a half-page miniature, by a very different illuminator, introducing a very rare text, the Hours of Mary Magdalene:
The dealer selling the two leaves above was aware of their ex-Durrieu provenance, and was also the source of the following leaf, currently being offered on eBay:
One of the dealer descriptions [archived copy] attributes a full-page miniature to Barthélemy d'Eyck [Wikipedia], which might explain the attribution to Aix or Marseilles (Barthélemy is known to have been at Aix in 1444, where he painted the Aix Annunciation [Wikipedia]) -- except that the same description attributes the manuscript to Angers!

More leaves will doubtless come to light, and in due course it should be possible to find out more about the volume's very unusual textual and decorative contents.


Here is the full Sam Fogg catalogue description (slightly reformatted for clarity):

Hours and Prayers, use of Rome, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum
(Southwest France?, c.1460-70, with additions c.1500)

V+206 folios are mostly in gatherings of 8 but include an original front flyleaf, 4 added bifolia (ff. II/III, IV/V, 111/112 and 114/115) and 2 added singletons (ff.113 and 140). Written in a lettre bâtarde in brownish black ink, catchwords visible, rubrics in red, on 15-17 lines ruled in light brown ink, alternating gold and blue initials with alternating black and red penwork, 2-, 3- and 4-line initials in burnished gold and blue on red and black penwork grounds, borders of half fleur-de-lis in burnished gold and blue on many text pages with very dense red and dark blue penwork, burnished gold and blue geometric line endings. 10 FULL-PAGE MINIATURES without border decoration but elaborately framed as miniature panel paintings, 2 HALF PAGE MINIATURES, and 1 SMALL MINIATURE, 1 HISTORIATED INITIAL, and 1 TROMPE L'OEIL BORDER DECORATION (f.199). In good condition, some opening maniatures rubbed and flaked. (150 x 102 mm)
ORIGINAL WOODEN BOARDS, stamped brown leather, rebacked, stamps include a fleur-de-lis, a flower, and an eagle, clasps missing, brass tacks remaining.

  1. Notes concerning the Cochon family begin on the front pastedown with “Sire(?) Cochon natif daucerre”; the first dated note appears directly below, November 1593, and the notes continue to 1630. There are many mentions of Rennes.
  2. Leo S. Olschki, Manuserits sur velin avec miniatures du Xe au XVIe siecle (Catalogue LX XIV), Florence, 1910, no.38, pp.53-54, pls XXI-XXII.
  3. COUNT PAUL DURRIEU, Paris (1855-1925) and to his heirs. Count Durrieu was one of the foremost scholars of manuscript illumination of his time. For a description of his life and collection, see A. De Laborde, Notice sur la vie et les travaux de M. le comte Paul Durrieu.., Paris, 1928.
The inclusion of many devotional texts, uncommon in Books of Hours and Prayerbooks and that must have been ordered for a particular owner, makes this manuscript of special interest.
  • ff. 1-37, Hours of the Cross; 
  • ff. 37v-39v, Prayer to the Virgin (rubric, Prosa de beata maria virgine compliata per devotissimum patrem Adam de sancto victore, incipit, Salve mater); 
  • ff. 40-41v, Prayer to the Virgin (Stabat mater dolorossa); 
  • ff. 41v-43v, Miscellaneous prayers; 
  • ff. 44-71v, Psalter of the Virgin; 
  • ff. 71v-100v, Tract on the Virgin; 
  • ff. 100v-101v, Fifteen Joys of the Virgin (Secunter gaudia beate marie virginis); 
  • ff. 101v-102v, Prayer (Sanctus bonefacius ... fecitnanc oratione ... in die xxx dies indulgentii); 
  • ff. 103-107v, Hours of Mary Magdalene; 
  • ff. 107v-109v, Hours of All Saints; 
  • ff. 110-110v, Joys of John the Evangelist; 
  • ff. 116-121v, begins incompletely (?), matutina supplicum vota quesumus domine ... (and other prayers); 
  • ff. 121v-139v, Office of the Virgin Mary, Use of Rome; 
  • ff. 141-152, Office of the Dead; 
  • ff. 152-154y, Office of the Cross; 
  • ff. 154v-156v, Office of the Holy Spirit; 
  • ff. 157-170v, Psalter of Saint Jerome (incipit, Suscipere digneris domine deus ...); 
  • ff. 170v-173, Prayer (rubric, Invocatio dei omnipotentis ad morium et vita reparationem, incipit, Domine deus meus ...); 
  • ff. 173v-174, Prayer (rubric, Oratio ... videi de se ...);
  • ff. 174v-178v, Prayer (rubric, Oratio devotissima sancti augustini at, incipit, spec. mea ...); 
  • ff. 179-181, Prayer to the Holy Spirit (De invocatione spiritus sancti); 
  • f. 181, Prayer to the Holy Trinity (ad sanctam trinitatem); 
  • ff. 181-186v, Prayer (Augustinus de contemplatione di ...); 
  • ff. 186v-192v, Prayer (Oratio ad sancto ut nobis succurrant); 
  • ff. 192v-199, Prayer (Alia oratio seu meditatio);
  • ff. 199-206v, Prayer (rubric. In ista oratione meus ... Incipit, Jesu domine iesu pre iesu bone ...).
The miniatures and decoration in the main body of the book were painted some time after the middle of the 15th century. The style is very charming and unusual, employing bright silvery colours applied with loose impressionistic brushstrokes. Durrieu considered that it may have originated in south western France.

A generation later miniatures were added by two other artists. The first produced the devotional diptychs with which the manuscript opens and the second the inserted miniatures of saints found on folios 111-115 and 140. These are also in an original, if provincial, style with remarkable illusionistic marbled borders. The style derives ultimately from that of Jean Bourdichon, so they must date to around 1500 or later. The subjects of the miniatures are:
  • (folio IIv) Christ Blessing, full-page half-length devotional image, with a trompe l'oeil marble picture frame. Facing:
  • (folio III) Virgin, full-page half-length devotional image, with a trompe l'oeil marble picture frame 
  • (folio IVv) Virgin as Mater Dolorosa, full-page half-length devotional image, facing:
  • (folio V) Christ as Man of Sorrows, full-page half-length devotional image, with trompe l'oeil marble picture frame over which the robe of Christ hangs
  • (folio 1) Crucifixion, 6-line historiated initial ‘D’
  • (folio 44v) Virgin Enthroned with the Child and Saints
  • (folio 109) Last Supper with Mary Magdalene Annointing Christ’s Feet
  • (folio 111v) John the Baptist
  • (folio 112) Saint John on Patmos
  • (folio 113) Baptism
  • (folio 114) Death and a Hermit Saint (Anthony of Padua?), with Death and a Courtier 
  • (folio 115) Saint Francis in the Wilderness
  • (folio 140v) Job on his Dungheap
  • (folio 157) Saint Jerome

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