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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Book of Hours (Use of Rome)

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Produced at some point during the middle decades of the nineteenth century, this Book of Hours was made by the miniaturist Caleb Wing (b. 1801, d. 1875) (for whom, see: Backhouse, <i>'A Victorian connoisseur'</i> (1968). It remains the only complete manuscript attributed to him; better known is Wing's restoration work, touching up or replacing damaged miniatures, for example, or his production of standalone sets of illuminations, some of which were traded on the open market as genuine illuminations. As Stella Panayotova has observed, 'Given the time and expense invested, [this manuscript] was probably created a modern replica for a wealthy patron rather than a forgery for the open market' (see Panayotova, (2016), p. 168). It was as a Book of Hours 'from the time of Francis I', however, that Samuel Sandars purchased this manuscript for £66 in 1892 - and upon the accession of Sandars' bequest at Cambridge University Library, it was dated to c. 1520. It is only through subsequent scholarship that the true history of this manuscript has become apparent.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Wing took inspiration for this Book of Hours from the Chasteauneuf Hours (now <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS nouv. acq. lat. 3210</a>). While his miniatures in MS Add. 4126 were faithful recreations of those found there, Wing introduced significant changes that suggests his use of other sources: the text was copied in a Humanistic minuscule (as opposed to the textualis script in the Chasteauneuf Hours), the contents are different, as are the border motifs, layout and proportions of the text and images.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The Chasteauneuf Hours had been damaged by a flood in 1846 while in the possession of the London art dealer John Boykett Jarman (1782-1864). Wing was employed by Jarman to restore some of his damaged manuscripts and it must have been after this that he undertook the production of a replica. Jarman's collection was sold in 1864; this manuscript is not among the items listed here or elsewhere as belonging to Jarman, so it seems either he disposed of it elsewhere or Wing made it for another patron. This probable date-range for the manuscript's production has been reinforced by the results of cutting-edge research undertaken at the Fitzwilliam Museum. Non-invasive analyses of the pigments through reflectance spectroscopy has indicated the presence of synthetic ultramarine, first produced in France around 1830, and the absence of pigments that became available commercially during the second half of the nineteenth century. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The manuscript went on display in the exhibition <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Colour: The art and science of illuminated manuscripts</a> at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge from 30 July-30 December 2016.</p>Dr James Freeman<br /> Medieval Manuscripts Specialist<br /> Cambridge University Library

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