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Luxury and locality in a late medieval book of hours from south-west England

  • Julian Luxford (a1)

Abstract

This paper describes and analyses a previously unrecorded Sarum book of hours of considerable artistic and textual interest. Seven of its pages have bar-frame borders illuminated in a distinctive and remarkable style. Four of these pages also have initials with figure-subjects, some of which are contextually unusual or unique. There is also an initial with a coat of arms displaying a black engrailed cross on a gold field (the arms of Mohun of Dunster in west Somerset). While the manuscript cannot be linked to a member of the Mohun family, the occurrence of a Somerset toponym in an obit dated 1429 in the calendar and the early addition to the litany of St Urith of Chittlehampton show that it was owned by someone who lived in Somerset or Devon in the early fifteenth century. Indeed, the book may also have been made in this region. Several features of its border illumination are paralleled in the Sherborne Missal (London, British Library, Additional ms 74236), produced in north Dorset or Somerset in the decade c 1398–c 1408. The parallels suggest a relationship (not necessarily direct) between the two manuscripts. Certainly, the book of hours discussed here is closer in style to the missal than it is to manuscripts made in or around London in the same period.

Cet article décrit et analyse un livre d'heures à l'usage de Sarum qui n'a jamais été mentionné, mais qui présente un intérêt artistique et textuel considérable. Sept de ses pages sont encadrées de bordures enluminées d'un style caractéristique remarquable. De plus, sur quatre de ces pages figurent des personnages-sujets, dont certains sont inhabituels ou uniques dans ce contexte. On y trouve également une initiale pourvue d'un blason, où figure une croix bordée de noir sur champ or (les armes de Mohun of Dunster, dans l'Ouest du Somerset). Bien que le manuscrit ne puisse pas être relié à un membre de la famille Mohun, la présence d'un toponyme du Somerset dans une nécrologie datée de 1429 dans le calendrier, ainsi que l'ajout de la litanie de saint Urith de Chittlehampton, montrent qu'il appartenait à quelqu'un qui vivait dans le Somerset ou dans le Devon au début du xve siècle. En fait, ce livre pourrait bien avoir été fabriqué dans la région. Plusieurs éléments de ses bordures enluminées ont été mis en parallèle avec ceux du missel de Sherborne (British Library, ms Additionnel 74236), produit dans le Nord du Dorset ou du Somerset pendant la décennie v. 1398 - v. 1408. Ce parallèle suggère un lien (pas nécessairement direct) entre les deux manuscrits. Il est certain que ce livre d'heures est plus proche du style du missel que des manuscrits réalisés à l'intérieur ou aux environs de Londres à la même période.

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Luxury and locality in a late medieval book of hours from south-west England

  • Julian Luxford (a1)

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