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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 June 2013

Julian Luxford*
Affiliation:
Julian Luxford, FSA, School of Art History, University of St Andrews, 79 North Street, St Andrews KY16 9AL, UK. Email: jml5@st-andrews.ac.uk

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.

Résumé

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.

Zusammenfassung

In dieser Abhandlung wird ein bisher undokumentiertes Stundenbuch nach dem Brauch von Sarum, das sowohl künstlerisch als auch inhaltlich von beträchtlichem Interesse ist, beschrieben und analysiert. Sieben Seiten davon haben Rahmenbordüren, die auf ganz charakteristische und erstaunliche Weise illuminiert sind. Vier dieser Seiten weisen auch Initialen mit figurativen Darstellungen auf, von denen einige kontextuell ganz außergewöhnlich oder einzigartig sind. Eine Initiale enthält ein Wappen mit einem schwarzen Kreuz auf goldenem Grund (das Familienwappen der Mohun of Dunster von West Somerset). Es lässt sich zwar keine Beziehung zwischen dieser Handschrift und einem Mitglied der Familie Mohun herstellen, doch das Vorhandensein eines Toponyms in einem Nachruf von 1429 im Kalender und der frühe Zusatz zur Litanei des hl. Urith von Chittlehampton zeigen, dass es sich im Besitz von jemandem befunden hatte, der im frühen 15. Jahrhundert in Somerset oder Devon gewohnt hat. Es ist in der Tat auch möglich, dass das Buch in der Region hergestellt wurde. Einige Merkmale in seiner Bordürenillumination laufen parallel zu denen im Sherborne Missal (British Library, ms Additional 74236), das im Jahrzehnt von ca. 1398 – ca. 1408 in Nord-Dorset oder Somerset entstanden ist. Die Parallelen legen eine Beziehung (nicht unbedingt direkter Art) zwischen den beiden Handschriften nahe. Stilistisch ist das hier besprochene Stundenbuch aber ganz sicher dem Sherbourne Missal ähnlicher, als den Handschriften, die zur selben Zeit in oder um London entstanden sind.

Type
Papers
Copyright
Copyright © The Society of Antiquaries of London 2013 

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