[Book of Hours (Use of Rome) with inclusion of Primer.].

Manuscript, Book
[Bourges, France. 1490s].
217 manuscript leaves on vellum illus. (miniatures, illuminated initials and borders) 23.5 cm.


  • The most unusual aspect of the text of the present manuscript is the inclusion of a Primer in a separate quire (ff. 19v-26) before the Hours of the Virgin. Roger Wieck (Painted Prayers, New York, 1997, pp. 12-13) has written on this very rare phenomenon in Books of Hours, and he has identified a very small group of manuscripts in which such Primers occur (e.g. Pierpont Morgan Library MS M. 487). MS M. 487 is a manuscript written for a child, soiled, and of poor quality. Of special interest, therefore, is not only the rare inclusion of the Primer here but its incorporation in an otherwise quite deluxe, even courtly, manuscript, suggesting that this book did "double-duty," serivng as the book of devotion for adults and children alike.
  • Leaves 1-12v Calendar, in French; 13-23r Gospel Pericopes; 23v-26r Obsecro te, with a Primer, including an ABC, with the lambda and the Latin abbreviation "us", the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Credo and miscellaneous prayers to be said before and after meals, upon waking, and so forth.
  • ff. 27-78 Hours of the Virgin (use of Rome); 78v-89r Long Hours of the Cross; 89v-93v Hours of the Holy Spirit, 94-111v Seven Penitential Psalms and litanies, including Mammert and Anianus, both of Orleans; 112-149 Office of the Dead (use of Rome); 150-151 blanks; 152-164 Humns and prayers to the Virgin and Christ, including seven Verses of St. Bernard, psalm 67, the Athanasian Creed; 165-167v Obsecro te; 168-174 Litany, followed by collects for the Pope, benefactors, etc.; 176-183v Prayers and suffrages, some in verse, some with rubrics in French, and some with indulgences, including a paraphrase of the Passion narrative, a suffrage to St. Christopher, the Seven Prayers of St. Gregory, a prayer on the wounds of Christ; and suffrages to Sts Edmund, Denis, George, Christopher, Blaise, and Giles, as a group, and Catherine, Margaret, Martha, Barbara and Christina, as a group; 184-217 O intemerata and other prayers to the Virgin, including the Five Joys, followed by Suffrages to Saints Michael, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, John the Evangelist, James, Stemphen, Lawrence, Maurice, Sebastian, Adrian, George, Cosmas and Damian, Cyricus and Julita, Hilary Antony, Louis, Francis, Antony of Padua, Louis of Toulouse, Bernardino, Fiacre, Martin, Claude, Nicolas, Christopher, John the Baptist, Katherine, Radegund, Genevieve, Barbara, Mary Magdalene, Margaret, Clare, Agnes, Agatha, Cecilia, Lucy, followed by further psalms; Communion prayers, suffrages to Saints Claude, Peter, the Holy Cross, St. Michael, and prayers to St. Gregory. Leaves 218-219 bear receipts in French for various cures, including an ointment to treat worms, in a sixteenth century hand.
  • The illustration of the manuscript fits well in mainstream painting in Bourges in the last two decades of the fifteenth century, especially in the traditions of Bourges' two leading artists, Jean Colombe and Jean de Montlucon. The mis-en-page, with 4-line text scrolled illusionistically over the picture, owes its origins to Jean Fouquet's celebrated Hours of Etienne Chevalier. Fouquet is the source for many elements of Colombe's style, such as the composition of the Pièta, Christ before Pilate, among others. However,Colombe's art is more sculpturesque (he is the brother of Michel Colombe, the sculptor), as is evident in the three-dimensional, wel-modeled figures beginning with St. John the Evangelist. Colombe was a contemporary of the Montlucon painters, active as illuminators and panel painters, who were responsible for the splendid Moneypenny Breviary (USA, Private collection) with which the present manuscript can also be compared. As in the Moneypenny Breviary, some miniatures display a three-tiered arrangement of the page, with a separate bas-de-page element, the illusionistically scrolled text, and a main miniature, such as the miniatures of Job and of David and Bathsheba. The presence of the putti supporting the patron's coat-of-arms finds an exact parallel in Jean de Montlucon's Chappes Hours in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal. See f. Avril and N. Reynaud, Les manuscrits à peintures en France 1440-1520, Paris, 1994, pp. 338-41.
  • The Miniatures are as follows: f. 13 Saint John the Evangelist; 14v Saint Luke the Evangelist, 16 Saint Matthew the Evangelist, 18 Saint Mark the Evangelist, 19v Pieta, 27 Annunciation, 42v Visitation, 52 Nativity, 56v Annunciation to the Shepherds, 60v Adoration of the Magi, 64 Presentation in the Temple, 68 Flight into Egypt, with the Massacre of the Innocents below, and the Fall of the Idols and the Miracle of the Corn Field in the background; 74v Coronation of the Virgin, 78v Arrest of Christ, 80 Christ before Pilate, with the Flagellation below, 81v Christ Carrying the Cross, with the Crowning with Thorns below; 83 Christ Nailed to the Cross, with the Soldiers Throwing Dice for Christ's robe below; 84v Crucifixion; 86 Deposition, 87v Entombment, 89 Pentecost, 94 David and Bathsheba, with the shepherd David killing the lion below, 112 Job on the Dunghill, with a rotting corpse its head on a skull below.
  • Literature Manchester, England, Works of Art from Private Collections in the North West of England and North Wales (catalogue of an exhibition), 1960, no. 39.
  • J.J.G. Alexander and Paul Crossley, Medieval and Early Renaissance Treasures in the North West (catalogue of an exhibition), Manchester, 1976, no. 59.
Binding note
18th cen. calf, 5 bands, gilt spine. recent dk blue cloth clamshell.
  • This manuscript was made for a member of the Ferrière de Presle family, whose arms appear in four borders (on ff. 27r, 29v, 39v, and 45. The motto SPERANCE DE BOURBON ("Hope to the Bourbons") also appears in one of the borders, making it likely that the owner was Jean I de Ferrières (d. 1497) Seigneur de Presle, who married by treaty Marguerite, natural daughter of Jean II, Duke of Bourbon, in 1462.
  • T.E. Mionnet (1777-1842), Keeper of the Cabinet des Médailles at the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, with his ex-libris.
  • Earl of Darby, purchased by him from Messrs Boone, London booksellers, on Boxing Day, 1845; the Earls of Derby at Knowsley, with their bookplate, sold in 1998 by the executors of the will of the late 18th Earl.
Statement on language in description
Princeton University Library aims to describe library materials in a manner that is respectful to the individuals and communities who create, use, and are represented in the collections we manage. Read more...
Other views
Staff view

Supplementary Information