Illuminated Christian Manuscript
Chronology : 1500-1519
< 835 The School of the Gospels
2015 SOLD for £ 2M including premium
Unlike their predecessors the Merovingians, the Carolingians did not neglect the role of the Church. The creation of a religious teaching in 789 clearly identified its purpose to combat ignorance and had as a direct consequence an increase in the activity of the copyists.
Metz is not far from Aachen, and Charlemagne created in that city one of his imperial necropoles. The place that included many abbeys became an important intellectual center. Drogo, an illegitimate son of Charlemagne, became bishop of Metz in 823. His masterpiece, unfinished at his death in 855, is an illuminated book of prayers.
For several centuries, the Gospel books included the four Gospels with prefaces and comments, preceded by a Canon table for the concordance between the texts and followed by a capitulary with the list of celebrations. The four elements of the Canon table are separated within an arched portico lavishly painted.
On July 15 in London, Christie's sells a remarkably complete manuscript on vellum in very good condition, known as the Gospels of Queen Theutberga, lot 20 estimated £ 1M.
This book was made in the early ninth century, most likely in Metz. Despite the luxury scripts, it does not include decorative initials, increasing its presumption of a very ancient execution. The list of celebrations do not mention the feast of All Saints which became an obligation of the official liturgy in 835.
July 15: #Gospels of Queen Theutberga [#Metz, c.825-850]. One of the best-preserved 9th-C. #manuscripts in existence. pic.twitter.com/IKj8b3I2GG— Christie's Books (@ChristiesBKS) June 2, 2015
1188 The Gospels of Henry the Lion
1983 SOLD for £ 8.1M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Henry was a benefactor of Brunswick Cathedral, which he had built from 1173 and where he is buried. His gospel book is a very luxurious manuscript prepared for the consecration of the altar of the Virgin Mary in 1188 in that cathedral.
This book is a codex of 266 sheets of parchment 34 x 25 cm, including 50 full-page illustrations as well as historiated initials. It shows in a logical sequence the career of the duke protected by Christ and the saints, including for example his wedding and his coronation. Phylactery explanations complement the images, making it possible to identify the highly important imperial and ducal characters of his family.
The work was prepared at the Benedictine Abbey in Helmarshausen and the scribe identified his name. The script is a modified Caroline minuscule that anticipates the Gothic. The illustrations in bright colors are composed on the principle of the rejection of blank (horror vacui) while keeping a great readability. The image shared by Wikimedia gives the example of a page.
This masterpiece of the Romanesque illumination has remained intact. It was sold on December 6, 1983 by Sotheby's for £ 8.1M including premium, an all-categories record at that time for an artwork at auction. Considered in Germany as a national treasure, it was bought at that sale by a consortium including the government, the provinces of Lower Saxony and Bavaria and public and private donors.
Early 14th century An Illuminated Breviary
2008 SOLD 1.77 M€ including premium
In the West, manuscripts decorated with paintings, "illuminated", are developing in the thirteenth century. Armenian manuscripts had preceded them. The letters starting the chapters are decorated (they are called lettrine) and more or less large paintings in relation to the text are present throughout the manuscript.
The volume that Thierry de Maigret presents at number 2 of his sale of November 18 is particularly early as the experts place it at the beginning of the fourteenth century. Manuscripts contemporary of the incunabula, a century and a half later, are much less rare.
Its 527 sheets of parchment in octavo (127 x 195 mm) are decorated with 115 miniatures and many lettrines. The text is divided into two columns, according to the fashion of the time. This volume has remained in its binding of the fifteenth century, and the catalog says that it is in a condition of great freshness despite some reported defects (including wear on page corners). It is a breviary. The civilian books of that time (like the Roman de la Rose) are more rare, and even more sought after.
1435 Storm on the Adriatic
2014 SOLD 1.08 M£ including premium
The Ottomans threaten Constantinople, and the Republic of Venice seeks to control the Adriatic coast. Taking advantage of the difficulties of Hungary in the Hussite wars, Venice seizes in 1420 its close neighbor, Friuli, which was the secular territory of the Patriarch of Aquileia residing in Udine.
The deposed patriarch, Ludwig von Teck, resists. He is a protege of the King of Hungary and Bohemia, Sigismund, and his son-in-law the Duke Albrecht V of Austria. He manages to get the excommunication of Venice by the Council of Basel in 1435 but this decision does not enable his return to Udine.
On July 16 in London, Christie's sells the missal of Ludwig von Teck, certainly made at the time of the Council of Basel when all hopes were still allowed to the patriarch. It is in the use of Udine, with a calendar showing the holy dates of local saints.
This illuminated manuscript on vellum 34 x 27 cm in very good condition is estimated £ 500K, lot 11.
The foliate decoration of its borders in a great delicacy of execution and some of its miniatures lead to ensure that this book was created by the Viennese master identified as the Master of the Prayerbook of Albrecht V.
POST SALE COMMENT
This highly rare example of Viennese illuminated manuscript was sold for £ 1.08M including premium.
1440 Made in Anjou for the Use of Paris
2021 SOLD for $ 3.6M including premium
Lot 3, estimated $ 1.5M, is a book of hours made around 1440. It is complete and its freshness is intact, with varied and saturated colors.
The book consists of 189 leaves of vellum 21 x 15 cm including 16 large miniatures with foliate borders enhanced with gold and silver, plus 12 small miniatures illustrating the occupations of the months. The tweets below show an example of each type. The pleasant illustration includes angels, exotic animals and monsters.
The texts are in Latin and French, with illuminated initials throughout the volume. The list of saints establishes that the book is for the use of Paris. For January 27, the name of Julien, first bishop of Le Mans, appears in gold letters.
The specialists look for the similarities between the manuscripts to establish a corpus of the best workshops. The craftsman who produced this manuscript is currently identified as the Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus by reference to a translated version of a work by this author. The hypothesis of a realization by a workshop in the service of the duc d'Anjou is correlated by a similarity with almost caricatural portraits of the Dukes of Anjou for the cathedral of Le Mans.
#AuctionUpdate Book of Hours illuminated by the highly sought-after Master of the Paris Bartholomeus Anglicus achieved $3,630,000. pic.twitter.com/OLKuJoAI4u— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) April 23, 2021
Happy #ManuscriptMonday! Please enjoy an inspirational (?) image for your week from a Rosenberg Collection Book of Hours, created in Le Mans or Angers c.1440s pic.twitter.com/9HiEOiD4bW— Christie's Books (@ChristiesBKS) March 15, 2021
1440 The Workshop of the Bedford Master
2012 SOLD 2 M€ including premium
An illuminated manuscript made in Paris, certainly in the workshop of the Bedford Master, was sold for € 2M including premium by Millon on April 27, 2012, lot 147. This result was recorded at that time by La Gazette Drouot but is not accessible now in the online catalogue of the auction house whatever the reason.
It is now estimated £ 850K for sale by Christie's in London on July 13, lot 113. The date of the Millon sale in Christie's catalogue departs of one year from the real date. The story below is mostly based on my 2012 discussion with some additional information concerning the artists.
Note also that this beautiful manuscript was not complete as eight of the twelve calendar pages and three folios that probably supported large miniatures are missing.
The atmosphere is weird in Paris after the death of Charles VI in 1422. The new king of France is the infant Henry VI of England who of course does not reside in that city, and the regency is entrusted to his uncle the Duke of Bedford.
Throughout Europe the princes are competing in luxury and commission to the most skilled artists the illuminated books, the great art of that time gloriously promoted by the duc de Berry who had died in 1416.
From 1409 to the 1430s, the leading (and probably unique at some time) Parisian illumination workshop is led the Master of the Bedford Hours so called by reference to his main patron..
The manuscript for sale is a book of hours in Latin and French for the use of Paris. It consists of 265 vellum folios 22 x 16 cm, mostly in-octavo. Its illustrations include but are not limited to 22 nearly full page arch topped paintings in three side frames. The text is carefully line ended and ruled.
The sumptuous models by the Bedford Master had been transmitted to his joint successors whose hand is recognizable in the manuscript for sale : they are the Dunois Master and the Master of the Munich Golden Legend. Such attributions enable to date that work from around 1440.
The glorious #HachetteHours, for sale on July 13: https://t.co/g2F2I2ySVv pic.twitter.com/PVKLKTYu8C— Christie's Books (@ChristiesBKS) June 21, 2016
1490 Horae ad Usum Romarum by Trubert
2022 SOLD for € 980K by Fraysse
A book of hours for the use of Rome is made by Trubert ca 1490 for his new sponsor and his wife the duchess Philippe de Gueldre.
This in-octavo book is made of 87 sheets in vellum. It embeds 18 exquisite illuminations including 10 in half page. Most of its prayers and psalms are dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Two sheets with two miniatures are probably missing.
This book was sold for € 980K from a lower estimate of € 200K by Fraysse on December 6, 2022, lot 15.
cinquante ans après leur dernière vente en 1972, les délicates et flamboyantes Heures de René II de Lorraine, enluminées par Georges Trubert à Nancy vers 1490, font enfin leur retour à Drouot aujourd'hui pic.twitter.com/q7FF9WYOfd— Elliot Adam (@madatoille) December 6, 2022
1495 The System of the Hours
2018 SOLD for € 4.3M including premium
A handwritten book of hours for the use of Rome including in its calendar several saints from Tours was sold for € 2.35M including premium by Gros et Delettrez on April 8, 2011 over a lower estimate of € 400K in the prestigious auction of the Weiller collection. It is estimated € 700K in the sale operated by Aguttes for OVA Aristophil at Paris Hôtel Drouot on June 16, lot 21.
This small book 23 x 14 cm is composed of 44 sheets. Sixteen circular miniatures 65 mm in diameter in shades of gold embellished with colors are front side and back side in the center of eight of these sheets. In the same position the other sheets are hollowed, providing the reader with a permanent consultation of the image related to the liturgical chapter which he is consulting.
This system is almost unique. Another example illustrated in losanges is also known, perhaps by the same workshop. A close look at the tweet below shows that the miniatures therein are viewed through one or two hollowed pages. The text is written in two columns to avoid the interruption of sentences by images and holes.
This book was made in the last phase of the illuminators when the workshops continued to provide luxury productions competing with printed books. It is associated with other opus attributed to Poyer.
In a poem written in 1504 by the chronicler Lemaire de Belges, Jean Poyer is quoted among the deceased artists. The catalog of the Weiller collection dated this book of hours between 1500 and 1510. The date around 1495 suggested in the OVA Aristophil catalog is plausible. The book is referred as the Petau Hours so named after a former owner.
Three extra French auctioneers are to assist in the mammoth disposal of the Aristophil collections of historic manuscripts:https://t.co/ASOXq4iDq3 (?) pic.twitter.com/Jl7IlET312— AntiquesTradeGazette (@ATG_Editorial) May 14, 2018
1505 The Best Artists from Ghent and Bruges
2014 SOLD 13.6 M$ including premium
One of these masterpieces is known as the Rothschild Prayerbook. It was sold for £ 8.6 million including premium at Christie's on July 8, 1999. It is estimated $ 12M, for sale by Christie 's in New York on January 29.
It is a book of hours for the use of Rome (meaning that is based on Roman liturgy), made around 1505 in Ghent or Bruges. In a small format 23 x 16 cm, this book with 252 leaves in luxurious vellum includes 67 large illustrations.
From an iconographic point of view, it is a fabulous collection of religious and liturgical scenes, showing in very fresh colors the life and customs of its time. Decorative borders offer an extended variety of topics.
The styles of these images clearly show that several workshops have co-operated, and comparison with other manuscripts and paintings can identify that it was made by the most renowned artists of their time. Their co-operation in such collective artworks was an extraordinary and unique business of which no direct witnessing has surfaced.
The main illustrators of the Rothschild Prayerbook were Gerard Horenbout who worked at Ghent and Alexander Bening, a member of the guilds of Bruges and Ghent. Simon Bening, son of Alexander, to whom a few images are attributed, will be the last great Flemish illuminator. The style of Gerard David, the leading painter in Bruges at that time, is recognized on several images.
POST 2014 SALE COMMENT
This masterpiece reaches once again a great price : $ 13.6M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Christie's :
A very #MerryChristmas to all. Here’s a stunning #nativity scene from the #RothschildPrayerbook! pic.twitter.com/RIVYbiXLjC— Christie's Books (@ChristiesBKS) December 25, 2015
1511 The Last Illuminator
2011 SOLD 1.6 M£ including premium
The prayer book for sale at Christie's in London on July 6 was made by Bening in 1511 for a wealthy merchant of Nuremberg. Very small, 90 x 62 mm, the manuscript on vellum of nearly 350 pages is lavishly illustrated with religious scenes of which eleven are in full page. The text is in Latin and Dutch.
Heir to the centuries-old tradition of illuminators, Bening is also influenced by the trends of his time, especially for the treatment of the landscape and the introduction of insects in trompe-l'oeil into floral borders.