New York, Christie’s, Catalogus 23 april 2021, lot 16 Getijdenboek van Charles V

Workshop of Gerard Horenbout

The ‘Book of Hours of Charles V’

use of Rome, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Ghent, c.1515]
a book of exquisite miniatures and figurative borders associated with the court painter Gerard Horenbout of Ghent, and adapted with the motto of the Emperor Charles V; the entrancing scenes of daily life include one of the earliest representations of the game of golf.

95 x 66mm. i paper + 182 + i paper: 15 lines ruled in pink, ruled space: 53 x 37mm, one- and two-line initials and line endings in gold or white on grounds of red, pink, blue or green, large initials of acanthus and stems, many with flower or fruit infills, on coloured grounds, ten full-page miniatures in full historiated or illusionistic borders, fifteen similar full borders, 24 full historiated borders for the Calendar (lacking five miniatures on inserted leaves before ff.78, 93, 105, 161 and 180).

Binding: Second half of the 19th century, French or Belgian, in close imitation of a mid 16th-century entrelac binding: alum-tawed leather over thin wooden boards with inner bevel, gilt with gouges and tools and with painted interlace in red, green, blue, black and white, on the upper cover the central oval with the Pillars of Hercules emblem and motto Plus ultra of the Emperor Charles V under an imperial crown, on the lower cover a simpler interlace with a central roundel with the imperial double-headed eagle under an imperial crown on a purple ground, spine in four compartments, 2 with parti-coloured lozenges with gold dots, 2 with black interlace and single fleuron, edges gilt, gauffered and painted with the Plus ultra motto on banderoles at top and bottom and an imperial eagle on the fore-edge, green silk headbands, two silver clasps, pouch of brown morocco with scalloped flap lined in red velvet (lightly rubbed with loss of some paint); modern brown morocco-backed slipcase. The binding was celebrated in the 1895 catalogue of the Hoe collection as an exquisite Renaissance binding for the Emperor Charles V; in the same year Ernest Quentin-Bauchart revealed it as a recent binding, while confirming that its gilt edges and the internal appearance of the Imperial devise were 16th century (see Provenance below). He attributed it to Theodore Hagué for a M. Paradis; it is of significantly higher quality than bindings executed by Hagué owned by John Blacker.

Panel with DEUM TIME/ PAUPERES SUSTINE/ MEMENTO FINIS f.1; blanks ff.2-3; Calendar ff.4v-16; Hours of the Virgin, use of Rome, ff.18-113; Te matrem dei laudamus, the Te deum redirected to the Virgin Mary, ff.113v-118; Penitential Psalms and litany ff.120-151; prayers ff.153-182v: prayer indulgenced if said ‘before an image of pity’ f.153, Psalm 90 f.155v, verses of St Bernard f.158, indulgenced prayer f.160, Obsecro te f.161, O intemerata f.168, prayer attributed to St Augustine f.172, Stabat mater f.180.

The injunction, ‘Fear God, Sustain the poor, Remember the end’, f.1, is found elsewhere, including a Ghent-Bruges Hours of c.1500 in Modena (Biblioteca Estense, ms lat.39, f.13v) and an Hours illuminated by Simon Bening c.1540 in the James A. de Rothschild Collection (Waddesdon Manor ms 26, f.126v).

The illumination belongs to the great tradition that evolved from Simon Marmion, in Valenciennes by 1458, and from the Master of Mary of Burgundy and his contemporaries and successors in Ghent, notably the Master of the First Prayerbook of the Emperor Maximilian, often identified with Alexander Bening (d.1519), Gerard Horenbout (active 1487-c.1540), here identified with the Master of James IV of Scotland, and Alexander’s son, Simon Bening (1483/4-1561), who settled in Bruges. In shifting collaborations, these outstanding artists were responsible for some of the greatest Renaissance manuscripts: the Rothschild Prayerbook c.1505-1510 (Kerry Stokes Collection, sold for a record breaking price at Christie’s, New York, 29 January 2014, lot 157), the Breviary in the Mayer van den Bergh Museum, Antwerp, c.1510 (inv. 496), the Spinola Hours c.1510-20 (J. Paul Getty Museum, ms Ludwig IX 18), and the Grimani Breviary c.1515-20 (Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, ms Lat. I 99). A noted characteristic of these books is the sharing of patterns for miniatures and borders by artists in different styles, drawing on the rich legacy extended and transmitted principally by the Maximilian Master. Small devotional books were popular: Simon Bening produced some notable examples, such as the Imhof Prayerbook, 1511 (sold Christie’s, 6 July 2011, lot 26). Themes famous from some of the most significant devotional books of the time appear in the Charles V Hours on an entrancingly small scale, with the earlier fashions of the originals often deliberately repeated to satisfy the continuing delight in the golden age of the Valois Dukes of Burgundy. Steeple headdresses, for instance, appear on ff.8v and 93; the latest costume depicted indicates a date c.1515.

Its miniatures and borders are probably the work of one hand, an illuminator fascinated by light effects, cast shadows and reflections; eyes are often animated by sharp white catchlights in the pupils. His backgrounds include intriguing details, like the archery contest on f.9 or the dancing shepherds on f.70v, a motif familiar from volumes, like the Rothschild and Imhof Prayerbooks, f.109 and f.177, where it occupies an entire border and lacks the bonfire that this artist exploits to enhance the rhythm of the dancers with their elongated shadows. Cast shadows and night scenes are also a notable feature of Horenbout’s one documented work, the completion of the Sforza Hours between 1517 and January 1521 for Margaret of Austria, Governess of the Netherlands for her nephew Charles (London BL, Add. Add. ms 34294).

The occupations of the months in the Charles V Hours relate closely to a group of calendars associated with Horenbout, which includes, among others, the Spinola Hours, the Rothschild Prayerbook and the Mayer van Bergh Breviary (T. Kren and S. McKendrick, Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, 2003, p.324, and for most of the manuscripts mentioned). The elaborate fictive framing of the Horenbout group calendars is here replaced by a light frame enclosing text and zodiac symbol so that they seem to float in front of the border landscape, an effect more typical of the Master of the David Scenes in the Grimani Breviary. In the calendar of his Brukenthal Hours of c.1495 (Sibiu, Muzeul Brukenthal, ms 761) the landscape borders are continuous across each opening, also an appealing feature of the Charles V Hours.

It is possible that the illuminator of the Charles V Hours contributed to the Mayer van den Bergh Calendar: compare, for instance, the figures in May (M. Smeyers and J. van der Stock eds, Flemish Illuminated Manuscripts 1475-1550, 1996, pp.62-3). The Breviary calendar has been attributed to the Maximilian Master and Workshop but this illuminator is closer to Horenbout in his broader headed figures, more structured modelling of faces, complex architectural interiors and appreciation of patterned cloths of gold. Horenbout is the probable source for the integration of border and miniature into one scene, as on f.119v, where David’s pose and immediate setting come from the Master of the Houghton Miniatures c.1480, with the addition of the minute background incidents characteristic of the Charles V illuminator (T. Kren, ‘The importance of patterns in the emergence of a new style of Flemish manuscript illumination after 1470’, Manuscripts in Transition. Recycling Manuscripts, Texts and Images, B. Dekeyzer and J. van der Stock eds, 2005, pp. 357-77). In the foreground, he establishes an area equivalent to a lower border, where boys blowing bubbles contrast poignantly with the boy David confronting Goliath opposite.

Some miniatures reproduce their models comparatively closely. The Presentation in the Temple reflects the figure types of the Vienna Master of Mary of Burgundy, its apparent inventor: see his Hours of Engelbert of Nassau, subsequently owned by Mary’s son and Charles’s father, Philip the Handsome (Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms Douce 219, f.152v). The Mass of St Gregory, also based on a composition connected with the Vienna Master (Voustre demeure Hours, Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, ms 78 B 13, f.15), has figures translated into the illuminator’s own idiom and the church setting characteristically made more complex and enlivened with distant figures. The Annunciation to the Shepherds in the Berlin Hours of Mary of Burgundy (Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett ms 78 B 12, f.137) becomes a much more dramatic night scene in the Charles V Hours, f.70v, closer in spirit to the great Ghent painter Hugo van der Goes, who inspired both it and the format of the half-length Lamentation, f.167v, which follows an admired composition used by the Maximilian Master in the Hours of Isabella of Castile c.1500 (Cleveland Museum of Art, CMA 63.256, f.261v). The striking Night Nativity, with its three light sources – the angel appearing to the shepherd, the lantern Joseph has taken to meet the midwives and the Christ Child Himself – depends on a lost van der Goes, known from copies (e.g. London, National Gallery, NG 2159).

The captivating borders similarly combine established patterns with more individual features like the beguiling series of children’s games, ff.16, 45v, 46 (golf, with an older player swinging his club in the background), 70v, 85v, 86 and 119v. The boys spinning tops, f.70v, follow a model that is first known in masterpieces by Marmion and the Master of the Houghton Miniatures of c.1480, like the Huth Hours (BL Add. ms 31826, f.46). In books associated with the Maximilian Master and/or Horenbout, the Hours of Philip of Cleves c. 1485 (Brussels, KBR ms IV 40, f.133), the Hours of James IV c.1502-1503 (Vienna ÖNB cod. 1897, ff.15, 190) and the Rothschild Prayerbook (f.241), the scene appears in monochrome, as do the small vignettes of children’s games in some of the Horenbout group calendars. In the Charles V Hours, the playing boys, in full colour, are liberated from the confines of the calendar into plausible landscapes. Earlier realistic game scenes, including golf with kneeling to putt, are found in the calendar of a Flemish Book of Hours dated 1505, (Valencia, Real Colegio de Corpus Christi) and would later be used by Simon Bening in the famous Golf Book of c.1540 (BL Add ms 24098, ff.27, 30).

The Hours of James IV (f.244) and the Rothschild Prayerbook (f.247) both have borders definitely intended as the Pillars of Hercules: a figure exotically armed, appropriate for Hercules, places a column in the sea from a boat with oarsman and steersman and bearing a second column. The subject was known at the Burgundian court, appearing in the Hercules pageants at the fabled wedding of Charles the Bold with Margaret of York in 1468. In the Charles V Hours, f.64, the subject has been lost: Hercules, a working man like the two oarsmen, is planting a third pillar, while a fourth awaits in the boat. Simon Bening produced an even more remote version, with one pillar in a boat with no oars, in the da Costa Hours of c.1515 (New York, The Morgan Library and Museum, M. 399, f.11v).

Other borders are repeated more exactly but with individual touches: the battling merman and wildman, f.63v, and the joust, f.93, appeared before 1483 in the Maximilian Master’s Hours of Lord Hastings (BL Add. ms 54782, ff.279 and 67). On f.93 the joust is made a practice between lads, continuing the theme of children’s games; on f.63v the aquatic combat is on the Schelde below Antwerp’s distinctive Church of Our Lady (now the Cathedral) with the Antoon de Waele Tower in the inner border. Since Our Lady’s north tower is shown complete, the border may postdate 1521, the year of completion, but mistakes suggest that the depiction depends, not on direct observation, but on some form of the design that must have existed by 1501 when work resumed. A woodcut view of Antwerp with the tower finished is dated 1515 (Antwerp, Museum Plantin Moretus, PK.OP.20839): presenting the tower as it would be, rather than swathed in scaffolding, gives a more splendid and less transitory image of the town and a more pleasing background to a miniature border.

Both combats are among the traditional subjects in the Charles V Hours. They are found, for instance, in the Rothschild Prayerbook, ff.212 and 230, along with the man and woman praying by a candle, f.134v – in the Charles V Hours a splendidly decorated Paschal candle – the bird trapper, f.135, and the hermit, f.205. Less usual are two scenes of popular devotion, vividly evoked: the Pope displaying the Vernicle to pilgrims, f.171v, and the flagellant procession ff.179v-180. The flagellants may derive from the Procession of St Gregory in the Très riches heures, assumed to have come to the Netherlands with Margaret of Austria in 1506; its calendar was adapted by Horenbout in the Grimani Breviary. His close follower, the Master of the Soane Hours, used the Procession in his eponymous manuscript datable after 1512 (London, Sir John Soane’s Museum, ms 4, ff.136v-137). Around 1535-1540, Simon Bening produced a compressed and simplified version of the flagellants seen in the Charles V Hours (Monastery of Montserrat, ms 53, p.355, T. Kren, ‘Two miniatures by Simon Bening from the Munich/ Montserrat Hours’, C. Zöhl and M. Hofmann eds, Von Kunst und Temperament: Festschrift fur Eberhard König zum 60. Geburtstag, 2007, pp. 143–48).

The very devout Emperor owned various Books of Hours. Four in related formats, probably from Brussels or Mechelen, are more Mannerist and Italianate in style: Vienna ÖNB cod.1859 (1516-1519) and s.n.13521 (after 1537); New York, Morgan Library and Museum, M.491 (1533), and M.696 (after 1547). If this little known volume was indeed his, it offered an absorbing creation from the earlier school of Ghent-Bruges illumination that exemplifies the triumph of Flemish manuscript painting in Europe.

The subjects of the miniatures and their surrounding and facing borders are: Annunciation, bird trapper f.17v, Moses and the Burning Bush f.18; Visitation, bowls and archers f.45v, golf f.46; Night Nativity, aquatic combat with a view of Antwerp f.63v, placing pillars in the sea with Plus ultra on added shield f.64; Annunciation to the Shepherds, spinning tops f.70v, hermit and tree-hermitage f.71; Presentation in the Temple, skittles f.85v, playing with hoops f.86; David at prayer, blowing bubbles f.119v, David and Goliath f.120; the Mass of St Gregory, blue cloth of gold f.152v, same textile f.153; Lamentation, ADORAMUS TE CHRISTE in gold on green f.167v, ET BENEDICIMUS TIBI QUI PER SANCTAM similarly f.168; Christ showing His wounds, the Pope displaying the Vernicle to pilgrims f.171v, man and woman praying beside a paschal candle f.172; Crucifixion, flagellants processing by torchlight to a distant church f.179v, flagellants placing a large crucifix on an altar f.180.

The remaining borders are: IEROSOLIM/AM : DICENTES : VE/UBI EST QUI NATUS (Matthew II 1-2) in metallic letters on red f.78; jousting f.93; transparent green curtain drawn to reveal angels in blue monochrome f.105; classicising motifs with a medallion of ?the Virgin f.160; fox and chickens, an owl called down by its owner f.161; Calendar borders with continuous scenes across openings, with the appropriate zodiac signs in the centre of the lower borders of rectos: January: man and boy at table by the fire f.4v, man walking his dog through a snowy village f.5; February: tending vines f.5v, chopping wood f.6; March: noble watching woman gardening f.6v, gardener digging f.7; April: letting the sheep out f.7v, farmyard with chickens and ducks, woman churning butter f.8; May: nobles a-maying in a boat, swimmers f.8v, shooting at a popinjay f.9; June: sheep shearing, jousting in background f.9v, swans f.10; July: scything f.10v, haymaker drinking f.11; August: harvesting f.11v, cornfield f.12; September: filling and sealing wine barrels, carrying grapes f.12v, wine press f.13; October: sowing f.13v, harvesting ?flax f.14; November: breaking flax, threshing f.14v, scutching flax f.15; December: pig killing f.15v, sledging on ice and snow, skating f.16.
Provenance(1) Not apparently specially commissioned, the book’s style and content indicate it was made in Ghent for the luxury market, where there was great international demand for Netherlandish illumination. The Calendar favours Ghent saints, though lacking Pharahildis and honouring some more particular to Bruges. Prayers are in the masculine.

(2) Emperor Charles V (1500-1558): a shield with his Plus ultra motto has been added to one of the pillars in the border on f.64. Charles V, elected Emperor in 1519, had adopted in 1516 the motto Plus oultre,subsequently latinised as Plus ultra, with the emblem of the Pillars of Hercules. Either Charles himself, or someone looking for a gift, presumably took the border on f.64 as the Pillars of Hercules and had the book personalised with the added shield.

(3) Ernest Quentin-Bauchart (1830-1910): this manuscript mentioned in A travers les livres. Souvenirs d’outre-tombe, Paris, 1895, ch. V. Purchased from Bachelin-Deflorenne and returned to the libraire after the binding was deemed to be modern by Lefèvre. Resold by Bachelin-Deflorenne for 3,000 francs.

(4) Edwin Henry Lawrence (1819-1891): his sale, Sotheby’s 9 May 1891, lot 304.

(5) Robert Hoe (1839-1909): his book label gilt inside upper cover, see O.A. Bierstadt, The Library of Robert Hoe, 1895, pp.32-33; One Hundred and Seventy-Six Historical and Artistic Book-Bindings […] from the Library of Robert Hoe, 1895, pl.22; C. Shipman, A Catalogue of manuscripts forming a Portion of the Library of Robert Hoe, 1909, pp.113-114; his sale, New York, Anderson Auction Company, Part II, 8 January 1912, lot 2469.

(6) Bernard Quaritch Ltd, cat. 328, A catalogue of rare and valuable books, January 1914,no 573.

(7) Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968): bought from Quaritch, 1918; variously numbered as his W Ms 82/124/131/140 (see L. Cleaver, ‘The Western Manuscript Collection of Alfred Chester Beatty (ca. 1915-1930)’, Manuscript Studies, 2, 2017, pp.445- 482, p.479, lxii); his sale, London, Sotheby’s, 9 May 1933, lot 69; bought by the dealer Richard Zinser (1884-1984). Sold by H.P. Kraus to Alexandre Rosenberg in ?1979.

(8) Rosenberg Ms 22.LiteratureJ.W.P. Drost, Het Nederlandsch kinderspel vóór de I7e euuw, 1914, ills. IV and V.
S. Hindman, ‘Pieter Bruegel’s Children’s Games, Folly and Chance’, Art Bulletin 53 (1981), pp.447-475, p.456-7, 474.
A. Willemsen, ‘The Game of the Month. Playful Calendars in Ghent-Bruges Books of Hours’, pp.419-430 in Manuscripts in Transition Recycling Manuscripts, Texts and Images, B. Dekeyzer and J. Van der Stock eds, 2005, p.423