Book of Hours, in Dutch, illuminated manuscript on vellum. [Northern Netherlands (Zwolle, with North Holland additions), c.1470–85].

BOOK OF HOURS  (c. 1470-1485)


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One large (10-line) historiated initial depicting a half-length crowned Madonna and Child on a crescent moon, accompanied by a three-sided foliate border incorporating two full-length angels. The start of each hour and other major text divisions with a five-line initial in burnished gold, on a blue and burgundy ground with white ornament, accompanied by a three-sided rinceaux border with painted flowers and gold leaves. Psalms, collects, hymns, etc., with similar but simpler two-line initials and marginal extensions; verses with one-line initials alternately blue or burnished gold; dense line-fillers in the litany in blue and gold.  The second section with fourteen penwork initials from three to seven lines high; three-line initials in plain red or blue; and verses with one-line initials alternately blue or red (not gold, as in the first section).  

Manuscript on vellum, 189 leaves, c.167×117mm; foliated in modern pencil normally on every fifth leaf; originally in quires of 8 leaves except at the ends of codicological units, now with probably five blanks and six other leaves with text and illumination excised; composed of two parts, with a change of script, decoration, and ruling-pattern at fol. 157r (full collation on request); traces of medieval leaf-signatures survive in quires 15–17, ending with ‘p’; ruled in ink for 19 lines per page, changing to 21 lines per page at fol. 157, the ruled space of both parts c. 95×65mm; written in fine gothic textura scripts (different for each section), with capitals stroked in red, and rubrics in red.  

Unrestored mid-sixteenth-century Netherlandish binding of blind-tooled calf over bevelled wooden boards, covers with rolls including roundels containing male portrait busts in profile interspersed with foliage; intact metal clasps at the fore-edge; part of the second compartment of the spine becoming detached, revealing fragments of medieval manuscript waste used as spine-lining, apparently in the vernacular (‘...eesti … guede Iude … eest inhem …’ and ‘....soen ons...’ ?).

[Northern Netherlands (Zwolle, with North Holland additions), c.1470–85]. 

Text Section I  

1.      (fols. 1r–12v) Calendar, with an entry for almost every day, major feasts, in red, include Pontian (14 January), Pancratius (12 May), Odulfus (12 June), Lebuin and his Translation (25 June, 12 November), the Translation of Martin (4 July), and Willibrord (7 November); ‘Sarijs’ appears at 19 January.  

2.      (fols. 13r–45v) Hours of the Virgin, starting with Matins (“Here du selte op doen mine lippen …”; cf. N. van Wijk, Het Getijdenboek van Geert Grote (Leiden, 1940), p. 36); followed by Lauds (fol. 20r), Prime (fol. 27r), Terce (fol. 30r), etc.

3.      (fols 46r–65v) Hours of the Cross, starting in Matins in the Psalm Venite at “laet ons screien voer den here …” (cf. van Wijk, p. 87), due to the loss of the first leaf; with Lauds (fol. 51r), Prime (fol. 54r), Terce (fol. 56r), etc.

4.      (fols. 66r–88r) Hours of the Spirit, starting in Matins at “Alleluya die gheest des heren hevet vervollet …”, due to the loss of the first leaf; with Lauds (fol. 71v), Prime (fol. 74v), Terce (fol. 76v), etc. (cf. van Wijk, p. 71, but differing at the beginning); fol. 88v ruled, otherwise blank.  

5.      (fols. 89r–106r) Hours of the Eternal Wisdom, starting in Matins before the invitatorium, at “lof. God wilt denken in mine hulpe …” (cf. van Wijk, p. 92), due to the loss of the first leaf; with Lauds (fol. 95r), Prime (fol. 97r), Terce (fol. 98v), etc.; fol. 106v ruled, otherwise blank.

6.      (fols. 107r–123v) Penitential Psalms, starting in the first psalm at “gheeste. Want ic geswegen hebbes o sint …” (cf. van Wijk, p. 139) due to the loss of the first leaf, followed (fol. 114r) by the Litany, with the usual Utrecht feature of Martin, Silvester, and Gregory first among the confessors, and the Virgins starting with with Anne, Felicity, and Perpetua (the virgins in litanies normally start with Agnes or Mary Magdalene).  

7.      (fols. 124r–155r) Office of the Dead, beginning in the Psalm Venite (“vaderen im vertoerneden …”; cf. van Wijk, p. 156), due to the loss of the first leaf; fols. 155v–156v ruled, otherwise blank.  

Section II  

8.      (fols. 157r–189r) Prayers, by a different scribe and decorator - with ruled dimensions identical to those in Section I - starting at “oetmodelic te ontfanghen. Vervol mijn herte …”, due to the loss of the first leaf; including the Five Aves of the Virgin (“vijf grueten van onser liever vrou maria”), a prayer to the Virgin as the mother of God (“Een goet ghebet van maria die moeder gods”), a prayer to the Lord (“Een devoten ghebet van onsen lieven heer”), a prayer of St Bernard to the heart of the Virgin (“totter herten marien dat sint barnaert ghemaect heest”), one to St Barbara (“een alte schone ghebet van die heylighe ioncfrou sancte barbara”), one to Christ, attributed to St Augustine (“Een alte scoene ghebet dat sinte augustijn ons ghelaten heest van onsen lieuen heer ihu. xpi”), another prayer by St Bernard to the love of our beloved Lord (“Een alte sconne ghebet dat die heylighe vader sinte barnaert ons heest aster ghelaten van der minnen ons liefs heren”), and others.

A PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN MANUSCRIPT of the so-called Sarijs Group, reliably localised to Zwolle in the later 15th century, and identified by the presence of the non-existent saint “Sarijs” in the calendar at 19th January – a mistaken contraction of “St Marijs”.


The Sarijs Group has been studied in detail by Lydia Stijntje Wierda, from which the following description is excerpted: “This study deals with a group of some 60 manuscripts formerly attributed to St Agnietenberg near Zwolle, a monastery of Canons Regular of the Windesheim Congregation. The manuscripts can be dated c.1470–1490. In this book they are referred to as the ‘Sarijs manuscripts’, after a misspelt saint’s name in the calendar that nearly all manuscripts share. Their earlier localization having proved untenable, the origin of this rather large group once again became a subject for investigation. The key to the solution of the problem concerning the origin of the Sarijs manuscripts is offered by the libri accidentalium of the Domus parva, a house situated adjacent to St Gregory’s House in Zwolle. Here, students of the famous Latin school of Johannes Cele were housed by the Brethren, who also looked after their needs, both in a material and in a spiritual sense. … The most interesting entries, however, are those concerning books and the production of books. On the basis of the characteristics of the Sariis manuscripts and of our knowledge of the organization of book production in St Gregory’s House and the adjacent Domus parva, the hypothesis is offered that the Sarijs manuscripts were among the books (partly) produced in the Domus parva.”


Although somewhat damaged, the main illuminated page bears close comparison to other members of the Sarijs Group, including Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, MS W.918, fol. 14r; the poses of the angels in the corners are nearly identical, as is the arrangement of acanthus foliage loops. This description has benefited from help from Anne Korteweg, former Keeper of Medieval Manuscripts at the Royal Library, The Hague. She observes that there are apparently no linguistic features of the eastern part of the Netherlands, which is unusual.


Provenance: 1. From the diocese of Utrecht, specifically Zwolle (see below), with the subsequent addition of Section II localised to North Holland, from the style of penwork; name “Jaspaer” inscribed in C16th hand (fol. 155v).   2. Late C19th- or early C20th catalogue note stuck to inside of front board. 3. Mrs John Morrison: C20th label inscribed with her name stuck to inside back board, presumably by descent to: 4. Bob & Catherine Morrison, by 1949: with a loosely inserted slip, “To Nelson Burroughs, In thanksgiving for the many beautiful services [...] from Bob and Catherine Morrison, Dunmore(?), Clifton [Ohio?], August 18, 1949”, likely referring to: 5. Nelson Marigold Burroughs (1899–1998), Bishop of Ohio.


Ref: Lydia Stijntje Wierda, De Sarijs-handschriften: Studie naar een groep laat-middeleeuwse handschriften uit de IJsselstreek (voorheen toegeschreven aan de Agnietenberg bij Zwolle) (Gröningen 1995), with English summary on pp. 184–85..

Stock Code: 234206

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