ALTERNATIVE TITLES – Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis secundum usum romanum – Libro d’Ore di Vrelant – Livre d’Heures Vrelant – Libro de Horas de Guillaume Vrelant – Vrelant-Stundenbuch.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Codex on parchment, dimensions 260 x 180 mm., III-190-III folios (392 pages). Below – where reference is made to a specific folio – flyleaves will also be included in the counting.
BINDING – Brown leather cover, blind impressions on both boards, 2 leather straps with clasps. The binding is original from the 15th century. In the 19th century it underwent a first restoration that involved – in particular – the replacement of the second pastedown, the interleaving with protective tissue paper, the remaking of the spine and the addition of the leather straps. A second restoration was carried out in 1929, but did not involve any substantial interventions.
ORIGIN – The patronage of the manuscript is to be located in France (Brittany or Burgundy), but it was produced in Flanders, probably in Bruges (Belgium).
DATING – 15th century (c. 1455-1460).
PATRONAGE – This is a spousal gift, as was often the case with books of hours. This can be deduced from the three coats of arms on f. 40v, the second of which – divided in half by a vertical line – reproduces the first and the third. In this way, the central escutcheon symbolised the union of two families through the marriage of their members. The gallerist Tommaso Puccini (b. 1749, d. 1811), director of the Reali Gallerie of Florence, described the two original heraldic shields as follows: «[…] due stemmi, in uno dei quali tre Zampe d’uccello in oro, nell’altro tre Conchiglie pure in oro con sbarra rossa acuminata, su campo azzurro amendue» (two coats of arms, in one of which three bird’s feet in gold, in the other three shells also in gold with a sharp red bar, both on a blue field). Puccini’s entire report, together with more recent investigations, now allow us to state that the first coat of arms belonged to an exponent of the Jaquotot family – originally from Burgundy -, the second to an exponent of the Breton De Brou family. This precious wedding gift was most probably commissioned by the groom’s mother, depicted on f. 40v as she prays with her eyes turned towards the central miniature of the Annunciation.
SUBSEQUENT OWNERS – In the 18th century, the codex belonged to the French jurist and bibliophile Michel Delacour-Damonville (b. 1690, d. 1756). His name (M. De la cour Damonville) appears on three cartouches glued to ff. 3r and 14v.
PRESENT REPOSITORY – In August 1806 the Florentine bookseller Giuseppe Galier offered Maria Luisa of Spain (b. 1782, d. 1824) three manuscripts: a psalter and two books of hours. Maria Luisa – already Queen consort of Etruria following her marriage to Louis I of Etruria (b. 1773, d. 1803) – was at that time regent for her son Charles Louis (b. 1799, d. 1883). Galier’s proposal was first evaluated by Francesco Del Furia (b. 1803, d. 1856), Prefect of the Biblioteca Laurenziana, and then by Tommaso Puccini, who drew up the above-mentioned report on that occasion. Following the overwhelmingly positive opinion of both, Queen Maria Luisa purchased all three manuscripts proposed by Galier on 15 September of the same year. The Vrelant Book of Hours was paid thirty gold zecchini and entered the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana on 22 November 1806, where it remains today. It was assigned the shelfmark Doni e Acq. 147, which has remained substantially unchanged except for the fact that the collection was later named Acq. e Doni. An inscription on the second front flyleaf certifies the purchase by Maria Luisa and subsequent donation to the Laurentian Library.
GENRE – Christianity, Private devotional books.
CONTENT – Calendar (ff. 3r-14v), Office of the Holy Cross (ff. 15r-25v), Office of the Holy Spirit (ff. 27r-30v), Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary (ff. 31r-36r), Pericopes of the Gospels (ff. 36r-39v), Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis secundum usum romanum (ff. 41r-89v), Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the whole of Advent (ff. 91r-97r), oration «Obsecro te» (ff. 99r-101v), oration «O intemerata» (ff. 102r-103v), Penitential Psalms (ff. 106r-120v), Office of the Dead (f. 122), Memory of the Holy Trinity (f. 154), various orations (ff. 155r-160r), Suffrages of the Saints (ff. 162r-179v), Table of the Christian Faith (ff. 180r-185v), various orations (ff. 186r-192r), Memory of St. German (f. 192v).
LANGUAGE – Latin, French.
SCRIPT – Littera textualis liturgica.
SCRIBE – The copying was attributed to a single scribe from the northern area, who remained anonymous.
DECORATION – The calendar is illustrated with 24 vignettes. For each month, the relevant sign of the zodiac is depicted as well as the activity that usually took place at that time of the year – as was customary in books of hours. There are 23 full-page miniatures: Capture of Christ (f. 14v), Flagellation (f. 16v), Way of the Cross (f. 18v), Burial (f. 22v), Descent of the Holy Spirit (f. 24v), Virgin and Child (f. 20v), Annunciation (f. 38v), Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (f. 52v), Nativity (f. 61v), Annunciation to the Shepherds (f. 66v), Adoration of the Magi (f. 70v), Massacre of the Innocents (f. 77v), Virgin and Child with Crescent Moon (f. 88v), Pietà (f. 96v), David at Prayer (f. 103v), Funeral Scene (f. 119v), Trinity (f. 151v), Saint Anthony, Saint Barbara and Saint Sebastian (f. 160v), Saint Christopher, Saint Margaret and Saint Glaudius (f. 163v), Saint John, Saint Catherine and Saint John the Baptist (f. 166v), Saint Adrian, Saint Nicholas and Saint Agnes (f. 169v), Saint Lazarus, Saint Stephen and Saint Mary Magdalene (f. 172v), All Saints (f. 175v). The marginal decoration of the codex plays no small role. Each folio is in fact decorated with elaborate phytomorphic frames often embellished with refined drôlerie, in which Vrelant‘s artistic personality finds full expression – as we can also see in his other works. Also noteworthy is the considerable quantity of illuminated initials.
ILLUMINATORS – The miniatures are the result of the cooperation of two artists. Willem Vrelant (b. ?, d. ca. 1481), produced most of the marginalia – and thus also the admirable drôlerie – and a full-page miniature (Virgin and Child, f. 20v). Originally from Utrecht, but stationed in Bruges from 1454, Vrelant is considered one of the most important Flemish illuminators of the second half of the 15th century. It is not superfluous to mention that the ms. Acq. e Doni 147 in the Biblioteca Laurenziana is not the only case in which Vrelant delegated the execution of the full-page miniatures to other illuminators. The other 22 full-page miniatures were executed by the Master of the Llangattock Hours, an illuminator active in Bruges and who owes his conventional name to a book of hours in Baron Llangattock’s collection (Los Angeles, The J. Paul Getty Museum, ms. Ludwig IX 7) in which he collaborated with several illuminators – including Vrelant himself. The Master of the Llangattock Hours was one of the protagonists of the «courant eyckien» of the Bruges miniature of the years 1440-1460.
STYLE – Northern Renaissance.
Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles
Wyelant, Wielant, Wilhem Vreylands, Wrelant, St, St.
Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document – The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the physical characteristics of the original document, with the aim to substitute it in the scientific research and in the libraries of the bibliophile collectors. Trimming and composition of the leaves reproduce the profile and structure of the original document. The binding corresponds to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
Publisher – UTET (Torino, 2005).
Limited edition – The Publisher certifies that the facsimile edition of the illuminated manuscript «Il Libro d’Ore di Vrelant» has been produced in a unique limited edition of 499 copies in Arabic numerals and XXXI in Roman numerals reserved for the Publisher, by concession of the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali – Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana di Firenze.
Certificate of authenticity – The certificate of authenticity with the copy number is attached to the colophon of the facsimile.
Writing support material – Special aged like-parchment paper.
Binding – Leather binding with blind impressions on both boards and two leather straps – corresponding to that of the original manuscript.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Italian, size 18 x 28 cm, 132 pages. Introduction by Franca Arduini (Director of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana). Essays by Franco Migiarra, Ida Giovanna Rao, Bernard Bousmanne.
ISBN – 88-02-07414-3.
Photos currently only available on request