The Aspremont Psalter-Hours: the making of a manuscript


The richly illuminated prayer-book known as the Aspremont Psalter-Hours has long been recognised as an important example of manuscript production from the Lorraine.1For a detailed description of the manuscript, and a bibliography, see Μ. M. Manion & V. F. Vines, Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in Australian Collections, London, 1984, pp. 173–6, no. 70. See also Ecriture et enluminure en Lorraine au Moyen Age [catalogue of the exhibition La Plume et le parchemin], Chapelle des Cordeliers, Musée Historique Lorrain, Nancy, 1984, pp. 121–2, cat. no. 79; H. Oliver, Gothic Manuscript Illumination in the Diocese of Liège (c.1250–c.1330), vol. 1, Louvain, 1988, pp. 181–2; Metz enluminée: Autour de la bible de Charles le Chauve – Trésors manuscrits des églises messines (exh. cat.), Metz, 1989, pp. 53–5; L. M. C. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, vol. 1, Baltimore, 1989, pp. 151–2, no. 57. It was probably made between 1290 and 1302, and the presence throughout of the arms of the knight Joffroy d’Aspremont and his wife Isabelle de Kievraing leaves no doubt about the identity of its first owners.2The Aspremont family owned lands in Namur and Lorraine and were related by marriage to the de Bar family. Joffroy d’Aspremont, who succeeded to the title of Aspremont between 1278 and 1282, is recorded as taking part in 1285 in the ‘Tournoi de Chauvency’, at which his wife Isabelle, his sister Mahaut and his sister-in-law Agnès were also present. Joffroy is said to have died at the battle of Courtrai in 1302. In 1925, E. G. Millar identified the coats of arms in the Aspremont Psalter-Hours (most of those in the Hours section had been overpainted by a later owner) as belonging to the Aspremont and Kievraing families. The de Bar arms also appear occasionally in the manuscript (E. G. Millar, ‘Bibliothèque de la National Gallery of Victoria à Melbourne: Livre d’heures exécuté pour Joffroy d’Aspremont et pour sa femme Isabelle de Kievraing’, Bulletin de la Société française pour la reproduction des manuscrits à peintures, vol. 9, 1925, pp. 20–32, pls I–VII). The date of Joffroy’s death provides a terminus ante quem for the Psalter-Hours, while stylistic features indicate that the manuscript is unlikely to have been made before 1290 (see Manion & Vines, p. 175). In its original form, the work comprised a Psalter (fig. 1) and a series of five breviary Offices (fig. 2), in honour of the feasts of Christmas, the Purification, the Annunciation, the Assumption, and the Nativity of the Virgin. At some stage, probably in the sixteenth century, the prayer-book was divided into two: today the Psalter is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS. Douce 118), while the Offices – or Hours as they are more often called – are at the National Gallery of Victoria, having been acquired through the Felton Bequest in 1922.3E. G. Millar identified the Hours section of the manuscript as the complement of the Psalter in the Bodleian Library (see E. G. Millar, unpublished typescript, National Gallery of Victoria). For MS. Douce 118, see O. Pächt & J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 1, German, Dutch, Flemish, French and Spanish Schools, Oxford, 1966, p. 43, no. 554. Both sections have sixteenth-century, though not matching, bindings, stamped with Renaissance designs. 

This study of the Hours section of the Aspremont Psalter-Hours is the result of a team of two art conservators and an art historian having a rare opportunity to examine in detail, over a sustained period of time, the physical features of this manuscript, its basic design and layout, and the relationship between its text and decoration. We have been concerned to plot the interaction of scribe, rubricator and illuminator, and to determine the effect on their activities of the way in which this manuscript was planned. This analysis, it is hoped, will also contribute, albeit modestly, to the larger task of charting the development of manuscript illumination in the Lorraine, which has been the subject of exhibitions and considerable scholarly research in recent years.4In addition to the exhibitions at Metz and Nancy cited in note 1 above, there was an exhibition at Verdun Cathedral in 1990. The Aspremont Psalter-Hours has invariably been referred to in the recent studies, but, perhaps because of the distant location of the Hours section, the references have usually been of a very general nature, and the distinctive elements of this manuscript, some of which may help to pinpoint the characteristics of a particular atelier, have not been addressed. 

Physical features 

Despite the lavish use of gold and colour in the illumination of the Aspremont Hours, its parchment is not of the highest quality. There are, for example, thin areas (taken from close to the limbs of the animal) that in a more selective process might have been discarded. Numerous holes are also discernible, six of which occur where tears were formerly sewn up; in these cases the small stitching holes are also evident. Changes, too, in colour, as well as variations in surface quality, are evident throughout. Dark follicles, for example, remain on many folios; sometimes these are quite prominent, and appear on both sides of the folio. While such characteristics may go back to the parchment supplier,5For descriptions of the activities of parchment makers, see C. de Hamel, Scribes and Illuminators, London, 1992, pp. 8–16. they may also help define the provincial context of the workshop that produced the prayer-book, since they indicate the quality of the material on which its craftspersons worked. 

While the quality of the parchment is variable, its organisation into quires or gatherings is quite systematic, with all but one gathering consisting of four bifolios or eight leaves (the exception to this consists of two bifolios, and at the end of the manuscript there is also a single bifolio).6For a collation of the manuscript and details of missing folios, see Manion & Vines, p. 173. 

The first stage in preparing the gatherings for the work of scribe and illuminator was normally the positioning of a series of pricked holes as reference points for ruling up each page. Although such holes are evident in the Aspremont Hours, they give no clear indication of the instrument used, nor do they show whether or not complete gatherings were pricked at once. The prickings, however, quite clearly correspond to the basic ruling pattern common to all the pages, and their spacing is very consistent; the only exception occurs in gathering fourteen, where there is a more closely spaced series of prickings, a closer spaced ruling, and a smaller script. This may indicate that the ruling for all the gatherings required was not done at the outset and that there was provision for flexibility in the planning even at this fundamental level. It is also important to note that the spacing of the prickings and rulings is consistent across each bifolio and, since the prickings seem to be only at the outer margins and not in the gutter of the book, it follows that the horizontal rulings were probably drawn between them. 

The rulings themselves are soft grey broken lines, probably made in graphite; today they vary in intensity, from the quite obvious to the very, very faint, and on some folios they are no longer visible to the naked eye. The ruling pattern not only provides the underlying structure for the arrangement of the text and its decoration, but also defines the parameters of the twists and turns of the vigorous and varied gothic bar border decorations. However, no areas of the page have been left unruled specifically to indicate the placement of decorated and historiated initials; the initials, we shall see, were planned by the scribe (or in association with him) as he proceeded to structure individual gatherings or sections, and were invariably painted over the basic rulings. 

The script of the Hours is in a well-formed liturgical gothic hand, though uneven at times and not free from errors. It is the same as that used for the Psalter section, but, in keeping with the established tradition for the transcription of breviary Offices, two sizes of script are used in the Hours to denote the differences between the main text and the antiphons, verses and responsories etc. Despite this manuscript’s abundance of historiated and decorated initials and exuberant borders, it is the script that predominates. Written in a strong brownish-black ink, no doubt of iron gall composition, and with only slight tonal variations, it is the core around which colour, decoration and figuration are developed, revealing the close links between scribe and illuminator. 

On most folios of the manuscript, instructions for the rubrications have also been provided (fig. 3).7Such instructions have been identified on 215 of the 278 folios. Presumably in the hand of the scribe, these are written with a finer pen and in an ink that is paler than, although similar to, the ink used for the script; as a result the letters and abbreviations are spindly thin – but nonetheless are in most cases still clearly visible in front of or beneath the red rubric. The rubrics themselves, which were inserted either by the scribe or by an assistant, vary in quality and consistency. In some cases they are written out in full, in others they are quite summarily abbreviated, and they are in a mixture of French and Latin. 

Perhaps even more interesting than the still-visible communication between scribe and rubricator are the remains of a note for the illuminator. On fol. 29, in the lower right-hand margin, the words [An]nu[n]ciatio[n aux Pas]tourelz (Annunciation to the Shepherds), now partly obscured by the bar border, refer to the historiated initial in the middle of the page (fig. 4).8There is also a note above the miniature on fol. 70: In Assumptione be[ate] Marie V (On the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). It is not clear, however, whether this instruction was intended for the illuminator or the rubricator. As is discussed later, the programme of illustration for this manuscript was not based on an earlier model; the illuminator, therefore, needed explicit guidance for the subject matter of the initials, though only a small relic of these instructions has survived. 

The task of the illuminator traditionally began with the making of detailed underdrawings, not only for the more elaborate historiated initials but also for the borders, the marginalia and even the small initials and line endings. Thus, the decoration of the whole page was often sketched in first. The underdrawing of the Aspremont Hours is discernible in a few places. On fols 17v, 24v (fig. 5) and 125, for example, the opaque white layer has flaked off the faces of some of the marginal figures, revealing the drawing underneath. 

While no chemical analysis has been carried out on the pigments in this manuscript, it is clear that a restricted palette of black, white, red and blue, together with gold and a little silver, has been consistently used throughout, with some variation occurring in the application of colour, especially in the graduation of tone, between the first two gatherings and the rest of the book. Gold is liberally used in all parts of the decoration, both as shell gold over painted surfaces and as raised, burnished leaf, sometimes with punched patterns. In the first two gatherings both red and white bole are used as the base for the gold leaf, and in each case the one colour is used consistently across the bifolio on which it occurs. In subsequent gatherings, however, only white bole is evident. 

Layout and design 

While there is considerable variation in their detail, the pages of the Aspremont Hours present a certain visual consistency. This stems from the use of a basic format of eighteen lines of text per folio (though a smaller or larger proportion of this text area can be taken up by historiated initials), and from the weight of the decoration being concentrated on the left. This emphasis is due to the fact that since the text is written in one column the historiated initials, which mark its major divisions, are naturally positioned towards the left of the folio; so too are the gothic bar borders, and the ivy-leaf extensions that develop from them and from the smaller one- and two-line decorative initials, also often lined up on the left. In addition, curvilinear branching forms extend from the vertical bar borders into many of the upper and lower margins. 

The large historiated initials that occur at certain key points in the manuscript, accompanied by a correspondingly reduced number of lines of text, are framed by three- or four-sided bar borders, sometimes with medallions let into the sides. Located to the right of each historiated initial, and part of the decorative vocabulary of all pages on which they appear, is a panel containing the opening phrase of the text. In this decorative block, initials in burnished gold and colour alternate with lines patterned with coats of arms and other motifs. 

Another consistent decorative element, and one that occurs on almost every page, is the marginal figure, grotesque or drollery. Stylistically, these share the same features as the figures in the historiated initials, although, independent of any framing device and set against the neutral ground of the parchment (instead of the burnished gold or diapered backdrops of the initials), they evince more spontaneity and freedom of movement. Both kinds of figures reveal very little modelling or articulation of the faces and hands, while their drapery is modelled through line work, glazes or blended tones. 

Invariably, the decorative details in figurative compositions, initials, line endings and borders comprise fine white zigzag lines, ivy-leaf forms, wavy lines and dots; similarly, fine, tendril-like line work adorns the corner grounds of the historiated initials, and shell-like forms articulate the inner curved edges of the major initials, both historiated and decorated. The final phase of both figurative compositions and initial and border decoration consists of delineation in pronounced black, and sometimes white, lines. 

Close examination of the pages of the Aspremont Hours reveals that within this basic visual schema there is considerable variation. On some folios, for example, there are relatively few decorative initials or line endings and the text is presented in more continuous blocks, accompanied only by small ivy-leaf branches extending from a scant number of decorated initials, or by a very simple left bar border with curvilinear branches projecting into the upper and lower margins; in a couple of cases, such as fols 17 and 26, the text is virtually devoid of decoration. 

Some of these variations, as we shall see later, are conditioned by the nature of the text, but quite apart from this the folios of the manuscript fall into two distinct visual parts, as a comparison between fols 9v and 10 (fig. 6), and 21v and 22 (fig. 7), indicates. The first two gatherings (fols 1 to 16) can be generally described as having the decorative programme under control. The pages are well balanced, the curvilinear forms are fluid, and the decoration relates well to the space available. It also extends harmoniously across both folios when the manuscript is open. All elements of the decoration, moreover, contribute to this balanced and integrated effect: the marginalia are dainty and sprightly, the line endings relatively restrained, and the more elaborate pages, whether with historiated initials or blocks of smaller decorative initials, reveal a like command of cusped, indented or spiky gothic forms and projections, as well as ordered and rhythmically articulated figurative compositions. 

Subsequent gatherings, on the other hand, are characterised by heavier and darker line work and decorative initials, especially where the latter are concentrated along the left edge. Branched extensions are often awkwardly drawn and their curves flattened, and the border decoration becomes more extensive, threatening at times to engulf the text. Line endings, too, have more elaborate projections, and the sense of exaggeration is revealed also in the treatment of the figures in both the historiated initials and the marginalia, these often being rendered on a larger, somewhat disproportionate, scale. After gatherings one and two, moreover, the tonal contrasts used to model the draperies of the figures become more pronounced. 

The contrasts between the earlier and later gatherings extend to virtually all elements of the design and its execution. Thus, the use of burnished gold over greater areas and the larger scale of the surrounds of the decorated initials also contribute to the exaggerated and over-emphatic effect of the later folios by comparison with the controlled and more fluid treatment of the first two gatherings. The application of colour and the rendering of forms in the historiated initials in both parts of the manuscript are no less indicative of the different approaches. 

The distinctions between the earlier and later gatherings permeate all aspects of the decoration – large and small decorative initials, line endings, borders, marginalia and historiated initials – and since on any given folio all these elements are stylistically homogeneous and physically interconnected, they need to be treated as a single entity. That is to say, it is in looking at the design of each page, probably worked out first in the comprehensive underdrawings, that we find the key to an understanding of the decorative ensemble as a whole; a change in artistic personalities at this level is clearly discernible after the first two gatherings. 

Another factor that must be taken into account is the interaction between scribe and illuminator, with the scribe initiating quite fundamental changes to the design concept in the course of production. Chief among these is his modification, after the first two gatherings, of the principle of locating all the decorated initials on the left-hand side of the page. This shift in approach has entailed a quite explicit change to the layout of the text. Up to this point, each new verse of a psalm, as well as the first word of antiphons, responses, prayers etc., begins a new line, with the consequent alignment of the bulk of the decoration on the left of the page. In addition, any initials that have not been given a new line, such as those occurring in a block of text like the lessons at matins, or introducing an occasional Amen or Deo Gratias, are rendered in modest black ink cadels that do not break up the visual appearance of the text. After the first two gatherings, however, all of this changes radically; the previous line distinctions are no longer always maintained and decorative initials (which had to be planned for by the scribe) may now punctuate the body of the text, with a consequent disturbance of the earlier left-hand emphasis (fig. 8). Increasing abbreviation, as the manuscript progresses, of repetitive textual elements also leads to a different spacing of the text and to further variations in the balancing of text and decoration. 

All these factors, together with changes in the rendering of the rubrics, create the impression of both scribe and illuminator developing in tandem a more vigorous but less regular momentum. 

One of the most striking examples of progressive page design, involving both scribe and illuminator, occurs in the placement of the historiated initials and the handling of their accompanying panels of patterned text. Although these elements introduce the various Offices and the major divisions within them, most follow on immediately from the text that precedes them and therefore variously occur at the beginning, middle or end of a page. They range in height, moreover, from five to thirteen lines, with no very clear sense of an ordered hierarchy, and the panels vary also in the number of words or syllables they contain.9There is most variety in the size of these panels in the first Office of Christmas, where the opening initial for first vespers on fol. 1 (fig. 2), which also marks the beginning of the Hours section and matches the introduction to the psalms on fol. 7 of MS. Douce 118, is thirteen lines high, and other initials are five, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven lines high. In the Office of the Purification, which follows, the panels range from five to nine lines in height and in the other three Offices from seven to nine. The border frames accompanying these initials also vary considerably. Usually, a three- or four-sided bar frame replaces the left-hand bar and curvilinear extensions of the other pages. These frames vary in sturdiness and in the extent of their decoration, and sometimes, as already noted, there are cusped medallions inserted into their sides. This in turn has a direct effect on the script that follows, which sometimes begins in the middle of a word (figs 9 & 10). 

Since the whole layout of the book, including the illumination, was so dependent on the activities of the scribe, it is important to consider the context in which he operated to produce this manuscript, and the nature of the particular text involved. 

Text, model and programme of illumination 

The distinctive character of the text of the Aspremont Psalter-Hours, and its influence on the manuscript’s illumination, emerge clearly when set in the context of the evolution of the devotional prayer-book in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. 

By this time the psalter had long been used for personal prayer by both clergy and laity, but during the second half of the thirteenth century there developed, especially in England, France and the Netherlands, a new type of devotional manual: the Book of Hours.10For the Book of Hours, see V. Leroquais, Les Livres d’heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale, 3 vols, Paris, 1927; J. Harthan, Books of Hours, London, 1977; R. S. Wieck, L. R. Poos, V. Reinburg & J. Plummer, Time Sanctified, New York, 1988. This consisted of various supplements to the Divine Office, or official liturgical prayer of the Church; most notable of these was the Little Office, or ‘Hours of the Virgin’, which was modelled on the longer breviary Office and was to become very popular with the laity. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries these supplementary texts were often attached to a psalter, hence the term Psalter-Hours. An early characteristic of the decoration of such books was the marking of each section by historiated initials or miniatures, whose compositions and images were an integral part of the book’s devotional content. In particular, the canonical Hours of prayer in the Little Office of the Virgin were regularly accompanied by a series of illustrations drawn from the life of Christ and the Virgin or from the Passion, and in some cases from both.11See Harthan, pp. 26–9. 

The text of the Aspremont Psalter-Hours, however, differs from most examples of this genre. In place of the Little Office of the Virgin and the other customary supplements, five full-length Offices have been appended to the Psalter, so that the format is closer to that of a miniature breviary. While there is a precedent for this in a number of thirteenth-century Psalter-Hours produced in the neighbouring diocese of Liège,12See Oliver, vol. 1, pp. 21, 113. the inclusion in the Aspremont Hours of the Office of Christmas seems to be unique. Moreover, not only does each of the Offices begin with first vespers and compline on the preceding day, but all ten of the resulting Hours for each Office – vespers, compline, matins, lauds, prime, tierce, sext, none, vespers and compline – are introduced by historiated or decorated initials, and this again is most unusual.13Several of the Offices in the manuscripts catalogued by Oliver (see note 1 above) also feature first vespers and compline. It is not usual for more than one Office in these books, however, to contain illustrations for each Hour. Although some breviaries were richly illuminated, especially those produced for royal or noble patrons, it was not customary to illustrate each individual Hour of a breviary Office. The designer of the Aspremont Hours therefore adapted to each Office the format developed for the Little Office of the Virgin in the Book of Hours. He did not, however, devise a consistent series of images for each Office. Instead, somewhat disparate scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin are interspersed with representations of Joffroy and Isabelle at prayer, and with occasional depictions of the saints that have little to do with the Office’s text or theme.14For example, St Peter Martyr on fol. 50v and a female saint on fol. 67. 

Nor is improvisation in the Aspremont Hours limited to the subject matter of the historiated initials. Breviary Offices are exceedingly complex, being full of interwoven texts – psalms, lessons, antiphons etc. and detailed rubrics. They are usually written in two columns and sometimes incorporate musical notation for responsories and hymns.15For breviary layout and decoration, see A. Hughes, Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology, Toronto, 1982, pp. 197–224. To transpose five full breviary Offices to a one-column format interspersed with devotional images was an exacting task, and that the approach of the scribe varied during the long project is abundantly clear. While some basic decisions were taken at the outset, such as the number of ruled lines per page, the treatment of the text otherwise evolved progressively after the first two gatherings, and the abbreviation of repetitive sections, as well as variations in page layout and in the presentation of rubrics, influenced the overall visual effect. 

Considerable variation occurs, for instance, in the treatment of matins in the different Offices. This Hour contains nine lessons or readings and in the breviary the first of these was sometimes highlighted by decoration or illustration. In keeping with this tradition, the first lesson for the Office of Christmas in the Aspremont Hours is introduced by a large initial P, which features the Nativity and is framed by a four-sided border. Since the opening words for matins in this Office are also marked by an historiated initial, in keeping with the format for a Book of Hours, this Hour is exceptionally well endowed with illustration. On the other hand, some of the lessons for matins, both for Christmas and for the other Offices, consist of pages of unbroken blocks of text that have little or no decoration;16See, for example, fols 17 and 26. this, too, distinguishes the Hours of matins from other parts of the manuscript. 

We have focused on the Hours section of this manuscript, since it was directly accessible for extensive examination and in terms of its text is the more unusual part of the work. We have, however, also studied the Psalter at first hand and many of our observations apply equally to it. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that there is a similar distinction in the decoration of the earlier and later gatherings of the Psalter; it seems, therefore, that in the case of both the Psalter and the Hours the first two gatherings were designed and written before the rest of the manuscript. 

Since the illustrative programme used for the historiated initials of the Psalter was well established by the late thirteenth century, there was not the same need for improvisation, nor for adaptation of the layout of the text. Each verse of each psalm in the Psalter begins on a new line, so that the decorative emphasis is more consistently located on the left of the page throughout. The later gatherings, however, reveal the same exaggerated tendencies as the Hours (fig. 11), and the positioning of the historiated initials on the page also varies.17The initials range in size from eight to thirteen lines high. The historiated initial introducing Psalm 8 (fol. 31v) has no patterned panel. Instead, a substantial section of the text is written in regular script in a narrow column beside the initial. 

Those responsible for the Aspremont Psalter-Hours would have had no difficulty in securing a text from which to copy the Offices. Breviaries made for clerical and religious members of the de Bar family, for example – to whom the Aspremonts were related by marriage – are well known.18See bibliography listed in note 1 above. See also P. de Winter, ‘Une réalisation exceptionelle d’enlumineurs français et anglais vers 1300: Le Bréviaire de Renaud de Bar, évêque de Metz’, in Actes du 103è congrès national des sociétés savantes (1978), Paris, 1980, pp. 27–62. This is not to say, as some have suggested, that the Aspremont Psalter-Hours issued from the same workshop as these manuscripts. The Breviary of Renaud de Bar,19British Library, London, Yates Thompson MS. 8, and Verdun, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS. 107. for example, is distinguished not only by its more traditional two-column liturgical format, but also by its decoration, which is more elegantly ordered, and there are further clear distinctions in colour, modelling, border design and marginalia. There are more affinities between the Aspremont Psalter-Hours and the Breviary of Marguerite de Bar (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris),20Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, BN MS. Lat. 1029A. See references listed in note 1 above, esp. Oliver, vol. 1, p. 191, and Manion & Vines, p. 175, fig. 170; see also de Winter, pp. 31–2. one of the same illuminators being involved in the decoration of both (fig. 12). Even closer stylistically is a small Book of Hours now in a private collection,21This manuscript was formerly in the possession of H. Kraus (see Manion & Vines, p. 175, figs 166, 168). whose borders and historiated initials contain many of the same elements (fig. 13). 

The Aspremont Psalter-Hours thus retains many of the marks of its making. Though its design was an evolving, and to some degree pragmatic, affair, a close relationship was consistently maintained between the writing of the text and its decorative orchestration. In seeking to locate this manuscript and its companion piece in the Bodleian Library more precisely in their local context, it may be helpful to bear in mind the distinguishing characteristics discussed here.

 

Margaret Manion, University of Melbourne (in 1994). 

Lyndsay Knowles, Paper Conservator, National Gallery of Victoria (in 1994). 

John Payne, Senior Painting Conservator, National Gallery of Victoria (in 1994).

Acknowledgements 

The research for this article was carried out with the support of a grant from the Australian Research Committee (ARC). The authors wish also to acknowledge Garry Sommerfeld, Maxienne Young and Rodney Manning of the National Gallery of Victoria for their photography. 

 

Notes 

1          For a detailed description of the manuscript, and a bibliography, see Μ. M. Manion & V. F. Vines, Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in Australian Collections, London, 1984, pp. 173–6, no. 70. See also Ecriture et enluminure en Lorraine au Moyen Age [catalogue of the exhibition La Plume et le parchemin], Chapelle des Cordeliers, Musée Historique Lorrain, Nancy, 1984, pp. 121–2, cat. no. 79; H. Oliver, Gothic Manuscript Illumination in the Diocese of Liège (c.1250–c.1330), vol. 1, Louvain, 1988, pp. 181–2; Metz enluminée: Autour de la bible de Charles le Chauve – Trésors manuscrits des églises messines (exh. cat.), Metz, 1989, pp. 53–5; L. M. C. Randall, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery, vol. 1, Baltimore, 1989, pp. 151–2, no. 57. 

2          The Aspremont family owned lands in Namur and Lorraine and were related by marriage to the de Bar family. Joffroy d’Aspremont, who succeeded to the title of Aspremont between 1278 and 1282, is recorded as taking part in 1285 in the ‘Tournoi de Chauvency’, at which his wife Isabelle, his sister Mahaut and his sister-in-law Agnès were also present. Joffroy is said to have died at the battle of Courtrai in 1302. In 1925, E. G. Millar identified the coats of arms in the Aspremont Psalter-Hours (most of those in the Hours section had been overpainted by a later owner) as belonging to the Aspremont and Kievraing families. The de Bar arms also appear occasionally in the manuscript (E. G. Millar, ‘Bibliothèque de la National Gallery of Victoria à Melbourne: Livre d’heures exécuté pour Joffroy d’Aspremont et pour sa femme Isabelle de Kievraing’, Bulletin de la Société française pour la reproduction des manuscrits à peintures, vol. 9, 1925, pp. 20–32, pls I–VII). The date of Joffroy’s death provides a terminus ante quem for the Psalter-Hours, while stylistic features indicate that the manuscript is unlikely to have been made before 1290 (see Manion & Vines, p. 175). 

3          E. G. Millar identified the Hours section of the manuscript as the complement of the Psalter in the Bodleian Library (see E. G. Millar, unpublished typescript, National Gallery of Victoria). For MS. Douce 118, see O. Pächt & J. J. G. Alexander, Illuminated Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, vol. 1, German, Dutch, Flemish, French and Spanish Schools, Oxford, 1966, p. 43, no. 554. 

4          In addition to the exhibitions at Metz and Nancy cited in note 1 above, there was an exhibition at Verdun Cathedral in 1990. 

5          For descriptions of the activities of parchment makers, see C. de Hamel, Scribes and Illuminators, London, 1992, pp. 8–16. 

6          For a collation of the manuscript and details of missing folios, see Manion & Vines, p. 173. 

7          Such instructions have been identified on 215 of the 278 folios. 

8          There is also a note above the miniature on fol. 70: In Assumptione be[ate] Marie V (On the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). It is not clear, however, whether this instruction was intended for the illuminator or the rubricator. 

9          There is most variety in the size of these panels in the first Office of Christmas, where the opening initial for first vespers on fol. 1 (fig. 2), which also marks the beginning of the Hours section and matches the introduction to the psalms on fol. 7 of MS. Douce 118, is thirteen lines high, and other initials are five, seven, eight, nine, ten and eleven lines high. In the Office of the Purification, which follows, the panels range from five to nine lines in height and in the other three Offices from seven to nine. The border frames accompanying these initials also vary considerably. Usually, a three- or four-sided bar frame replaces the left-hand bar and curvilinear extensions of the other pages. These frames vary in sturdiness and in the extent of their decoration, and sometimes, as already noted, there are cusped medallions inserted into their sides. 

10        For the Book of Hours, see V. Leroquais, Les Livres d’heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale, 3 vols, Paris, 1927; J. Harthan, Books of Hours, London, 1977; R. S. Wieck, L. R. Poos, V. Reinburg & J. Plummer, Time Sanctified, New York, 1988. 

11        See Harthan, pp. 26–9. 

12        See Oliver, vol. 1, pp. 21, 113. 

13        Several of the Offices in the manuscripts catalogued by Oliver (see note 1 above) also feature first vespers and compline. It is not usual for more than one Office in these books, however, to contain illustrations for each Hour. 

14        For example, St Peter Martyr on fol. 50v and a female saint on fol. 67. 

15        For breviary layout and decoration, see A. Hughes, Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology, Toronto, 1982, pp. 197–224. 

16        See, for example, fols 17 and 26. 

17        The initials range in size from eight to thirteen lines high. The historiated initial introducing Psalm 8 (fol. 31v) has no patterned panel. Instead, a substantial section of the text is written in regular script in a narrow column beside the initial. 

18        See bibliography listed in note 1 above. See also P. de Winter, ‘Une réalisation exceptionelle d’enlumineurs français et anglais vers 1300: Le Bréviaire de Renaud de Bar, évêque de Metz’, in Actes du 103è congrès national des sociétés savantes (1978), Paris, 1980, pp. 27–62. 

19        British Library, London, Yates Thompson MS. 8, and Verdun, Bibliothèque Municipale, MS. 107. 

20        Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, BN MS. Lat. 1029A. See references listed in note 1 above, esp. Oliver, vol. 1, p. 191, and Manion & Vines, p. 175, fig. 170; see also de Winter, pp. 31–2. 

21        This manuscript was formerly in the possession of H. Kraus (see Manion & Vines, p. 175, figs 166, 168).