6015. Book of Hours Northern Italy c. 1480

BOOK OF HOURS, Use of Rome, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum. Northern Italy (most probably Florence), c. 1480.

258 leaves (plus 2 modern paper endleaves at front and 6 original vellum and 2 modern paper endleaves at back), complete (assuming there was not ever a Calendar at the front of the volume), collation: i-xi10, xii6, xiii-xxi10, xxii2, xxiii-xxvi10, xxvii2, xxviii8, single column, 11 lines in a fine late gothic bookhand, red rubrics, one/line initials in red or blue, larger initials with contrasting penwork (some with trailing penwork along entire margin), larger initials of coloured leafy fronds on burnished gold grounds and with bezants in the border, four large historiated initials in same (i: fol. 1r, Virgin and Child; ii: fol. 127r, Skeleton with a grinning skull in the upper border; iii: fol. 209r, David harping, with a harp in the upper border; iv: fol. 251r, the Cross), each with a full border of single-line penwork foliage enclosing acanthus leaves sprays and coloured flowerheads, and bezants, small areas of flaking to ink on a few leaves, numerous contemporary and near-contemporary additions to the Calendar, eighteenth-century pen notes in places, slight discolouration to first leaf, edges trimmed with small losses to extremities of decorated borders, else good and presentable condition, last paper endleaf with numerous erased ownership and seller's marks (including number "7693" in nineteenth-century pencil), early twentieth-century paper labels of bookseller, "C.E. Rappaport" of Rome (founded 1906) pasted to endleaves or pastedown at each end.
Nineteenth-century red ducal binding with gilt-tooled arms with double gilt fillet within lines of blind-tooled dots and undulating waves (binding detached at front). Outer dimensions of page: 75x48 mm.

The presence of St. Zenobius in the Litany identifies Florence as the most likely point of origin of this charming little book. He was the first bishop of the city, and his relics are kept in the duomo there in a shrine made by Ghiberti in the 1440s. The half-length portraits in the historiated initials with pale blue backgrounds show the influence of Attavante degli Attavanti (1452-c. 1520/25), the leading Florentine illuminator of the last decades of the fifteenth century and opening of the sixteenth.

The volume includes: the Hours of the Virgin (fol. 1r), and related readings; the Office of the Dead (fol. 127r); the Seven Penitential Psalms (fol. 209r), followed by a Litany and prayers; the Office of the Cross (fol. 253r), ending "Explicit officium sancta crucis Deo Gratias Amen" on the last leaf.

We would like to thank Dr. Timothy Bolton for his cataloguing of the present lot.

Provenance: From the library of Ove Hassler (1904-87), Dean in Linköping, Sweden, and his son, Eivind Hassler (1939-2009).