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Sotheby´s: Auction Date: 7 Jul 09, 10:30 AM, Location: London
Western Manuscripts and Miniatures and the Korner sale; SALE L09740
LOT 53: MINIATURE PRAYERBOOK, IN LATIN, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[northern Italy (Milan), c. 1500-10]
277 leaves (including 3 original endleaves at back), 50mm. by 35mm., a single leaf in gathering xxi cancelled, else complete, collation: i-xx8, xxi7 (last wanting), xxii-xxxiv8, horizontal catchwords, written space 33mm. by 23mm., 10 lines of dark brown ink in a small and fine late gothic bookhand, rubrics, significant texts and 1-line initials in liquid gold, numerous 2-line initials in liquid gold on tri-coloured grounds heightened with white penwork, eight large historiated initials (5 or 6 lines in height) in green and blue with medieval jewels on gold grounds, foliate extensions of scrolling vines touched in gold ending in thistle-like flowers forming three-quarter border frames which enclose coats-of arms of the Sforza, Visconti and Colonna families, decorated frontispiece with complex 5-line initial in gold with a medieval jewel, flower and two pearls on burgundy ground with full border frame, gilt and gauffered edges, small hole in folio 70, last three endleaves with added prayers in Latin in early modern hand, outer edges trimmed by a few millimetres, some minor dampstaining to upper edges of leaves, else excellent condition, last endleaf with rustholes showing that original binding had metal corner-pieces and a central boss, nineteenth- or early twentieth-century black leather with marbled pastedowns and silver edges to boards, elaborate silver clasp with initials 'RIB' on inside, in fitted case
Almost certainly written and illuminated for the Italian noblewoman, Agnese da Montefeltro (1450-1520), wife of Fabrizio Colonna and daughter of Battista Sforza: a damaged Colonna coat-of-arms on fol. 1r (with a better preserved example on fol. 40r; a column or on geules) and a tiny profile portrait of her on fol. 1r; arms of the Sforza family, the mighty fifteenth-century lords of Milan, on fol. 26v (quartered with imperial eagles sable on or and basilisks on argent; Battista was herself a daughter of Alessandro Sforza, the first lord of Pesaro from the Sforza line and the brother of the dynasty's founder Francesco I Sforza), and of the Visconti (a basilisk on azure) on fol. 13r, who were incorporated into the Sforza family through the marriage of Francesco Sforza to Bianca Maria Visconti in 1441.
Agnese was a member of an important bibliophilic and military family. Her husband Fabrizio was the count of Tagliacozzo and grand constable of the kingdom of Naples. He was famed for his military and political prowess, appearing as the main speaker in Machiavelli's Art of War, a text that also cites him as an authority on military structure and strategy. Her daughter, Vittoria Colonna, was a poet, bibliophile and close friend of the artist Michelangelo, who addressed some of his finest sonnets to her, and made drawings for and of her. It is thus fitting that this exquisite little book was made for Agnese in Milan around the first decade of the sixteenth century. These years were troubled ones for the Sforza dynasty in Milan, whose influence was seriously threatened by the forces of King Charles VIII of France, and this volume may have been commissioned as a gift in order to remind her (and her powerful husband) of her ancestral links to Milan and its ruling dynasty.
The text includes a prayer to the Trinity with Psalms (fol. 1r); the prayer 'O Dulcissime domine Iesu christe qui es sponsus ...' (13r); the prayer 'Deus propicius esto michi peccatori ...' (26v); the prayer 'Domine ihesu Christi qui sempiterne verba ...', attributed to the venerable Bede, with important devotional phrases such as 'Heli heli lama zabathani' picked out in liquid gold (39r); the prayer 'Precor te piissime domine ihesu christe propter illam eximiam caritatem ...' here attributed to Pope Benedict XII (47r); the prayer 'Deus propicius esto mihi ...' attributed to St. Augustine (51v); the prayer 'Domine Jhesu Christe, rogo te ut amore ...' (60v); prayers attributed to St. Bernard (63v); Gospel readings and prayers (97r); the 'Obsecro te' (148r) and 'O intemerata' (158v); prayers to the Virgin attributed to St. Thomas Becket (165v); furthers devotions to the Virgin (168r); prayers to the saints, including Sebastian (188r), George (190r), Helena (202r), Catherine (204r), and Apollonia (206v); the Seven Penitential Psalms (212r); a Litany and further prayers (247v).
The historiated initials are the work of a skilled Milanese artist. The faces and hair of the figures shares a great deal with the work of the Master 'BF', but the use of pearls and jewels within the bodies of the initials points to a group of miniatures tentatively attributed to Taddeo de Scoriatis Milanese (Olschki, Wildenstein Collection of miniatures, pp. 106-11). The miniatures include: (1) folio 1r, 5-line initial in gold enclosing Christ on a liquid gold and deep blue background, all on burgundy ground, and with a full border enclosing a medieval jewel, seven putti, two griffin-like creatures, a small lamb and a tiny detailed portrait of the original female owner; with some loss of paint from initial and somewhat thumbed on edges; (2) folio 13r, 5-line initial in blue and green with medieval jewels on outer edges on gold ground, enclosing a bearded Saint-bishop, foliate borders on three sides enclosing the Visconti arms in upper border; (3) folio 26v, 5-line initial as above, enclosing a female saint holding a palm of martyrdom, the Sforza arms in foliage in bas-de-page; (4) folio 40r, 5-line initial as above, enclosing a naked putti carrying the Cross, arms identified as those of the Colonna in foliage in upper border; (5) folio 47r, 5-line initial as above, enclosing Saint Apollonia holding a book and her tooth in a pair of delicate golden pliers, a white veil with an inscription beginning 'Tanto ...' supported by two hands in the bas-de-page; (6) folio 51v, 5-line initial as above, enclosing a female saint; (7) folio 60v, 6-line initial as above, enclosing a female saint with long flowing blond hair; (8) folio 64v, 5-line initial as above, enclosing the Pentecost, with the Holy Spirit in the form of a white dove descending to the Virgin below, whose face peeps out of the window created by the initial looking straight at the reader, surrounded by saints, a silhouette portrait on red ground in the upper border; (9) folio 67r, 5-line initial as above, enclosing a female saint next to a pink tower (probably St. Barbara); (10) folio 220v, 5-line initial as above, enclosing King David in profile, with an alternative version of the Sforza arms (with three gold rings interlocking on geules in the place of the basilisks) in the bas-de-page; (11) folio 247v, 5-line initial as above, enclosing a crowned Saint-Pope, wearing the three-tiered papal crown.
THE KORNER HOURS, USE OF ROME, IN LATIN, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[southern Netherlands (Ghent and Valenciennes), c. 1475-80]
248 leaves (5 blank), plus 6 vellum flyleaves, 75 mm. by 55 mm., complete, collation: i-ii6, iii-v8+1, vi8, vii6, viii8+1, ix-xviii8, xix4, xx8+1, xxi12+7, xxii8+1, xxiii-xxiv8, xxv8+1, xxvi-xxx8, with all full-page miniatures on the added sheets, 14 lines, ruled in red ink, written-space 44 mm. by 26 mm., written in dark brown ink in a small calligraphic lettre bâtarde, rubrics in red, one- and 2-line initials throughout in burnished gold on red and blue grounds with white tracery, twenty-five large illuminated initials with full borders of naturalistic flowers, birds and insects on coloured or liquid gold grounds, fourteen full-page miniatures, mostly in gently arched compartments within full borders, very occasional spots of thumbing in margins, quire 21 slightly loose, other negligible wear, generally in extremely fine original and fresh condition throughout, early nineteenth-century red morocco gilt, crest of a double-headed eagle on each cover, green morocco doublures gilt, vellum endleaves, edges gilt and gauffered
(1) The patron is shown kneeling in the miniature for Saint Katherine on folio 167v, in a scene directly related to the Burgundian court (see below). The patron is either Charles the Bold himself (1433-1477), duke of Burgundy 1467-77, or "a high-ranking Burgundian courtier" (Kren, p. 182), probably in the ducal household. Although the text is entirely continental, the inclusion of a miniature of Saint George (who is in red in the Calendar, as is Saint Thomas Becket and his translation) may suggest a connection with England. In 1468 Charles the Bold married the sister of Edward IV, Margaret of York (1446-1503), patron of Simon Marmion; their daughter was Mary of Burgundy.
(2) Philip Augustus Hanrott (1776-1856), who also owned the celebrated Carmelite Missal; his sale, Evans, 16 July 1833, lot 2409, "in a very delicate and superior style of Art".
(3) William Knight; his sale in our rooms, 2 August 1847, lot 1335.
(4) William Stuart (1825-1893), J.P., M.P., D.L., of Tempsford Hall, Bedfordshire, and Aldenham Abbey, Hertfordshire, given to his wife Henrietta Maria Sarah (d. 1853), on 9 August 1847, as inscribed on the flyleaf. She was the daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Pole; they were married on 8 August 1821, and this was perhaps a wedding anniversary present. It passed by descent to Major William Dugald Stuart (1860-1922) and to his widow, Milicent Stuart (1869-1933); her sale in these rooms, 4 June 1934, lot 25, to Tancred Borenius.
(5) Walter Edward Guinness, 1st Lord Moyne (1880-1944), D.S.O., P.C., adventurer and statesman, assassinated in Cairo; his sale in these rooms, 4 May 1953, lot 25, to Eisemann, for Eric Korner, originally to mark his 60th birthday, later given to his wife as a surprise wedding aniversary present.
LITERATURE AND REFERENCES
O. Pächt, 'Die niederländischen Stundenbücher des Lord Hastings', Litterae textuales, Essays presented to G. I. Lieftinck, IV, 1976, p. 30, fig. 3.
G. T. Clark, 'The Chronology of the Louthe Master and his Identification with Simon Marmion', Margaret of York, Simon Marmion, and the Visions of Tondal, Papers delivered at a Symposium ... June 21-24 1990, ed. T. Kren, Malibu, 1992, p. 207, n.10, "present location unknown".
B. Brinkmann, Offizium der Madonna: Der Codex Vat. Lat. 10293 und verwandte kleine Stundenbücher mit Architekturbordüren (Codices e Vaticanis Selecti, 32), 1992, pp. 133-5. and pl. 41.
T. Kren in Illuminating the Renaissance, The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, ed. T. Kren and S. McKendrick, J. Paul Getty Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts, 2003, pp. 182-3, no. 37.
A Calendar (fol. 1r); the Hours of the Cross (fol. 14r) and of the Holy Ghost (fol. 25r); the Mass of the Virgin (fol. 35r), with the Gospel Sequences (fol. 46r); the Hours of the Virgin "secundum usum romanum", with Matins (fol. 55r), Lauds (fol. 72r), Prime (fol. 90r), Terce (fol. 97r), Sext (fol. 103v), None (fol. 109v), Vespers (fol. 116r) and Compline (fol. 127v), with the Salve regina (fol. 135r); the Obsecro te (fol. 148r) and O intemerata; Suffrages of the saints (fol. 160r); the Penitential Psalms (fol. 176r) and Litany; and the Office of the Dead (fol. 202r).
At certain precisely recognisable moments in art history there are sudden and dramatic leaps of startling innovation. Giotto, the Limbourg brothers, the Van Eycks, Michelangelo, Monet and others, by a fortuitous concatenation of historical circumstance and available genius, were able to make significant changes in the way people looked at the world. One of these moments occurred in the early 1470s, in the circle of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York. Manuscripts changed. Books became very large, or tiny. The illusionistic Ghent/Bruges scatter borders were invented, with the first true copies of plants from nature since classical times. Trompe l'oeil insects appear to settle on the naturalistic flowers (examples here are on fols. 24v, 163v, 167v, 201v, etc.), as if a living creature has itself been deceived by the reality of the painting. Light (and darkness) and pure colour pour into manuscripts, and the refined art of the Van Eycks or Memling is reduced into the smallest scale it can without losing its freshness. The memorable and beautiful Crucifixion here (fol. 13v) is hardly two inches high. Figures become three-dimensional and seem to float in space. Settings are often domestic, even homely; religion is personalised. The Korner Hours is much the smallest and is one of the oldest of the revolutionary new type of manuscript. The two great innovators were Simon Marmion, and the artist (or group of artists) known, after the daughter of Charles and Margaret, as the Master of Mary of Burgundy.
Simon Marmion is easy. He is one of the best documented early Netherlandish artists, working both in panel paintings and in manuscripts. He was brought originally by Philip the Good from Amiens in 1454 to help prepare stage sets. In 1458 he bought a house in Valenciennes, where he probably lived and mostly worked until his death in 1489. He worked extensively for Charles the Bold and Margaret of York. "The most striking characteristics of the several dozen illuminated manuscripts and paintings that are associated with the name of Marmion is, in a word, naturalism. Marmion was especially gifted in the representation of light and texture, and his understanding of atmospheric effects and spatial illusion grew throughout his career" (T. Kren, The Visions of Tondal from the Library of Margaret of York, 1990, p. 21). Two of the miniatures by him here, the Last Judgement (fol. 175v) and the Battle for the Soul (fol. 201v), show heat and darkness, light and death. It is almost possible to smell the sizzling of the demons and to sense the silence of the skies. One of the most unexpected subjects Marmion shows here is the image of Saint Katherine (fol. 167v). He takes the subject from a rare text by Jean Miélot, publisher to Philip the Good, which he had recently illuminated in 1475 for Margaret of York, the Vie de sainte Catherine. The saint is permitted by the Virgin to select a husband among all the kings and emperors of the world, and she chooses Christ. The patron of the manuscript is kneeling in the miniature. The image has political undertones, for the dukes of Burgundy were not emperors, a sensitive matter, and (here) they choose religion instead of the imperial crown.
The Master of Mary of Burgundy is more of a problem. The artist was named by Otto Pächt from two supreme Books of Hours made for Mary, one in Vienna (Cod. 1857) and one in Berlin (Kupferstichkabinett Ms 78.B.12; cf. Pächt, The Master of Mary of Burgundy, 1948). To the same artist Pächt assigned the exquisite little Hours of Engelbert of Nassau in the Bodleian Library (MS Douce 219-20). These are truly revolutionary books, beautiful and atmospheric, close to tiny galleries of pictures by Hugo van der Goes and Joos van Ghent in the palm of one's hand. Art historians do not always advance knowledge. Recent work on the enigmatic and elusive Master of Mary of Burgundy now tends to diffuse his oeuvre into the work of several painters, and the Vienna and Berlin manuscripts are no longer accepted as being necessarily by the same artist. The Engelbert of Nassau Hours is assigned to the Vienna side of the group, whereas the Korner Hours belongs with the Berlin manuscript. Was there a multi-faceted genius, or more than one artist in Ghent working together (perhaps one family)? Genius can emerge in partnerships (the Limbourgs, the Van Eycks). The very unsatisfactory term of 'the Ghent Associates' has been provisionally coined for manuscripts around the Berlin Hours (A. van Buren, 'The Master of Mary of Burgundy and his Colleagues, The State of Research and Questions of Method', Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 38, 1975, pp. 307-9). The mercantile word 'Associates' seems to suggest something routine or mass-produced. This is not at all true: these works are rarer than those of Marmion. Seven miniatures in the Korner Hours were ascribed by Pächt to the Master of Mary of Burgundy himself. For simplicity, we have kept this name in the list which follows. It now needs new work to tell us who or what this extraordinary artistic enterprise really was. The finest miniatures here are the Virgin and Child (fol.147v), as exquisite as any panel, and the dramatic scene of Saint Michael expelling demons (fol. 163v). These works "rank with the most beautiful works in the new Ghent style of illumination" (Kren, Illuminating the Renaissance, p. 182).
The miniatures are:
1, Folio 13v, Simon Marmion, The Crucifixion, 49 mm. by 30 mm., the Holy Women at the foot of the Cross, Saint John comforting the Virgin on the left, soldiers on the right, landscape background including people walking out along the road from the distant city of Jerusalem; full border on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves and coloured flowers.
2, Folio 24v, Simon Marmion, Pentecost, 49 mm. by 29 mm., set in the atrium along the edge of a courtyard of a palace, the apostles and the Virgin kneeling and gazing upwards, the Holy Dove in the blue sky, other figures walking in the gardens on the right; full border on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, a red admiral butterfly and strawberries.
3, Folio 34v, Simon Marmion, The Virgin and Child, 49 mm. by 30 mm., set in a domestic interior, the Virgin seated on an oriental cushion before a sofa with red cushions, two angels playing musical instruments, a clock on the wall beside the window, an altar on the other side; full border on a blue ground including gold acanthus leaves and red and white flowers.
4, Folio 54v, Simon Marmion, The Annunciation, 49 mm. by 30 mm., set in a Romanesque church, the Virgin seated on the floor with her deep blue dress spread around her, a prayer desk to the right, Gabriel falling to one knee, the Holy Dove descending on a golden beam of light shining through an upper window; full border on a golden-brown ground, including gold acanthus leaves and coloured flowers.
5, Folio 147v, The Master of Mary of Burgundy, The Virgin and Child, 70 mm. by 47 mm., the Ara Coeli, the Virgin half-length standing behind a crescent moon over which the hem of her robe is draped, holding and suckling the Christ Child, gold ground, flecked in red; full-page, without border.
6, Folio 159v, The Master of Mary of Burgundy, Saint Peter, 49 mm. by 30 mm., the apostle in a white toga, holding gold keys, walking on the shore of the lake of Galilee, fishing boats in the water, a great city on the far bank, with hills behind; full border on a red ground, including gold acanthus leaves and white flowers.
7, Folio 161v, The Master of Mary of Burgundy, Saint George and the Dragon, 60 mm. by 38 mm., the saint as a knight in armour on a warhorse, the dragon rearing up on its hind legs, the princess seeking refuge at the far right, a great castle behind with people watching from the battlements; three-quarter border of jewels on a liquid gold ground.
8, Folio 163v, The Master of Mary of Burgundy, Saint Michael the Archangel expelling the Demons, 50 mm. by 31 mm., a white angel with a banner flying over the fiery pit of Hell, monsters' eyes staring brightly in the smoky gloom; full border on a gold ground including white and grey acanthus leaves, a moth, cornflowers and strawberries.
9, Folio 165v, The Master of Mary of Burgundy, Saint Christopher, 49 mm. by 32 mm., the giant in a billowing red cloak stepping through a river with the Christ Child on his shoulders, rocks all around and a landscape background; full border on a golden-brown ground, including two insects, gold acanthus leaves and coloured flowers.
10, Folio 167v, Simon Marmion, Saint Katherine's vision of Christ as her spouse, 44 mm. by 29 mm., set in a princely interior with a high bench and hanging textiles, the saint curtseying before God who is attended by two gold angels and surrounded by saints, including kings and bishops, a kneeling layman on the right; full border including a moth and pinks on a liquid gold ground.
11, Folio 169v, The Master of Mary of Burgundy, Saint Anthony, 50 mm. by 30 mm., the saint in robes of the palest purple seated in prayer with Saint Paul the Hermit, in a rocky glade in a forest clearing, a spring behind, Paul's raven flying above with a piece of bread in its beak; full border of carnations and cornflowers on a liquid gold ground.
12, Folio 171v, The Master of Mary of Burgundy, Saint Barbara, 61 mm. by 37 mm., the saint standing with a palm and open book (in a chemise binding), a hanging tapestry on the left, to the right a view out through a cloister to a building site where Barbara's father is inspecting the tower under scaffolding; three-quarter border of jewels on a liquid gold ground.
13, Folio 175v, Simon Marmion, The Last Judgement, 48 mm. by 30 mm., Christ seated on a rainbow, saints on either side with the Virgin and Saint John the Baptist foremost, an angel blowing a trumpet down to the earth below, where the dead rise from their graves and are seized by devils on the right and dragged towards the fiery abyss; full border of white and grey acanthus leaves and coloured flowers on a liquid gold ground.
14, Folio 201v, Simon Marmion, The Battle for the Soul, 47 mm. by 29 mm., a dead man lying in a meadow in an evening landscape, his soul emerging from his mouth, an angel hovering above battling a demon, who tumbles over on the right, all set between God and the heavenly hosts above and the smoky pit of Hell below; full border on a red ground, including a butterfly, gold acanthus leaves and daisies.
The illuminated borders are:
1, Folio 14r, on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves, a white butterfly, pinks, roses and cornflowers; 2, folio 25r, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, three birds, pinks and strawberries; 3, folio 35r, on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves, two yellow butterflies, daisies and little blue and white flowers; 4, folio 44r, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, two birds, cornflowers and daisies; 5, folio 46r, on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves, two birds, pimpernels and daisies; 6, folio 48v, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, two birds, pinks, and other flowers; 7, folio 51v, on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves, including a bird, cornflowers and pimpernels; 8, folio 55r, on a yellow-brown ground, including gold acanthus leaves strawberries, cornflowers and a daisy; 9, folio 72r, on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves, two birds and coloured flowers; 10, folio 90r, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, two birds, pinks and cornflowers; 11, folio 97r, on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves, two birds, pimpernels, strawberry flowers and thistles; 12, folio 103v, on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves, a bird, convolvulus and cornflowers; 13, folio 109v, on a liquid gold ground, including many flowers; 14, folio 116r, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, a bird, pimpernels and convolvulus; 15, folio 127v, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, a butterfly, cornflowers and thistles; 16, folio 148r, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, a butterfly and blue pansies; 17, folio 160r, on a red ground, including gold acanthus leaves, carnations and cornflowers; 18, folio 162r, on a blue ground, including gold acanthus leaves and strawberries; 19, folio 164r, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, a moth, pimpernels and cornflowers; 20, folio 166r, on a brown ground, including gold acanthus leaves, and little flowers; 21, folio 168r, on a liquid gold ground, including a bird, strawberries, daisies, irises, cornflowers and roses; 22, folio 170r, on a liquid gold ground, including a butterfly, daisies, convolvulus, cornflowers and pimpernels; 23, folio 172r, on a liquid gold ground, including a moth, a yellow butterfly, a strawberry, daisies, pinks, irises and other flowers; 24, folio 176r, on a liquid gold ground, including white and grey acanthus leaves, three birds, violets, daisies and cornflowers; and 25, folio 202r, on a grey ground, including gold acanthus leaves, a white butterfly, strawberries and other flowers.