Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Stunning Rare Illuminated Book Of Hours, $13,583 Per Hour

By Stephen J. Gertz

Shepherds' Proclamation.

On May 21  2012, Ketterer Kunst Auktions - Hamburg is offering the De Gros-Carondelet Book of Hours. It is estimated to sell for 299,000 ($326,250).

Presentation in the Temple.

Produced on very fine and delicate vellum, this manuscript was initially designed for the Burgundian court secretary Jean III de Gros (1434-1484) c. 1480,  and, some twenty years later, passed into the ownership of the Burgundian chancellor Jean I Carondelet and his family.

John on Patmos.

The book features twenty-two full-page miniatures with surrounding borders comprised of various leaves, flowers, fruits, birds, etc. and with three-line initials in colors, with six small miniatures as well as numerous two- and one-line white-heightened initials in gray blue against a gilt-heightened red brown background, and line fillers of similar design.

The revival of Lazarus.

Of the highest quality, this illuminated Book of Hours  manuscript is of the utmost nobility and provenance, and at the same time a primary source  and historical document from the inner circle of the Burgundian court’s last period.

The evangelist Mark.

Magnificently preserved, the manuscript exhibits unique development from an originally Flemish to a later French style.

Corpus Christi procession.

It was originally illuminated by Simon Marmion, the Dresden prayer book master, and other painters. After it changed ownership and moved to France, which may have been, in part, politically motivated, the miniatures as well as the borders were entirely reworked and modernized by an unknown but gifted French book painter, which led to its fascinating synthesis of Flemish and French stylistic elements.

Madonna and child.

“The apparently complete ‘redecoration’ of the illuminations just a few years after the commissioned manuscript was actually made is so unique that it causes one to speculate whether it was simply motivated by aesthetic reasons or if perhaps treason of the previous owner may have been the actual reason. Whatever the reason, as far as I am concerned, this work is unique considering the aspect of the illuminations.“ (Dr. Bardo Brinkmann, of Basle).

Souls in Purgatory.

Jean de Gros III (1434-1484) began his royal court service an early age and was soon named secretary. He became a ducal audiencer in 1467, and gained further office under Charles the Bold. He had financial administration duties, and was treasurer of the Order of the Golden Fleece. He owned a splendid house in Bruges.

Initial decorations.

Jean Carondelet (1428-1502), Seigneur de Champvans et de Solre, was in the service of the Burgundian dukes, Philip the Good and Chrarles the Bold; the fortunes of the Carondelets were closely tied to the Budundian Netherlands. He was President of the Great Council of Mechelen 1473-1477, and Burgundian chancellor 1480-1496.

The manuscript is in a contemporary Flemish calf binding over blind-tooled wooden boards, each board with eight stamps in blind separated by friezes.

The word for Book of Hours in German is Stundenbuch; the book will leave you stunned in awe.

[De Gros - Carondelet]. Book of Hours. Flanders c. 1480, Burgundy c. 1485-1500. Illuminated manuscript on vellum with 16 text, 17 calendar lines. 348 ff. 22 illuminated miniatures, 6 small miniatures, initials throughout. Flemish Bastarda in black ink, rubrics (obviously) in red.

Provenance: Not in the relevant literature. In the possession of the family of Georg Hasenclever (1855-1934), father of expressionistic writer Walter Hasenclever, since the late 19th century.

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