St. John the Baptist, Miniature on a leaf from the illuminated manuscript on vellum known as the Chester Beatty Book of Hours, with a text leaf from the same manuscript, [Paris, 1408].
c.174 x 130mm., full-page miniature in a full floral and foliate border, including a three-line illuminated initial and four lines of text, on reverse 15-line text in single column, framed within the same border, illuminated initials on gold ground and line endings, plus a text leaf, also c.174 x 130mm., single column, 15 lines, framed in the same border, numerous illuminated initials and line endings, excellent condition, lower margin slightly water-stained, housed in a double glass wooden frame.
⁂ A splendid miniature leaf from the famous Chester Beatty Book of Hours (probably from the section containing the Suffrage), illuminated by the Mazarine Master, here offered with a text leaf from the same manuscript. The Chester Beatty Book of Hours, in the past also ascribed to the Boucicaut Master, is one the few securely dated manuscripts belonging to this typology. As its colophon states, "factum et completum est anno M° CCCC Viji" quo ceciderunt pontes par[isius]", i.e. made in 1408, the year the bridges of Paris were swept away by floods" (a similar inscription is to be found in the Belles Heures, Ms Douce 144 of the Bodleian Library in Oxford).
The Mazarine Master, so called after the Book of Hours produced by him now in the Bibliothèque Mazarine in Paris (ms 469), was one of the most significant and influential artists active in Paris in the early years of the fifteenth century, until about 1430. He was a contemporary of the Limbourg Brothers, and worked for a highly distinguished clientele, including the greatest collectors of the age, like Jean, Duc de Berry.
Both the miniature leaf and the text leaf are framed in an exquisite border, executed by a skilled craftman working for the Mazarine Master, which represents one of the earliest appearances of the acanthus decoration in Parisian manuscript illustration.
The patron who commissioned the Mazarine Master to execute this marvellous Book of Hours is still unknown. In the nineteenth century the manuscript was in the hands of the jeweller John Boykett Jarman (d.1864). His collection had been damaged by flooding in 1846 (as the water-stains around the edges of the present leaves still testify), and was sold in his sale at Sotheby's, on 13th June 1864, to Edward Arnold. In Arnold's sale at Sotheby's again on 6th May 1929 the Mazarine Master Book of Hours was bought for £190 by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, who divided it up and mounted the miniature leaves separately. He sold several of them on 22nd March 1932 at Sotheby's, and the present miniature was lot 326. The other illuminated leaves remained in Chester Beatty's collection and were in his sale at Sotheby's on 24th June 1969.
- John Boykett Jarman (d.1864): his sale, Sotheby's, 13 June 1864, lot 47 (for the complete manuscript).
- Edward Arnold, his sale, Sotheby's, 6 May, 1929, lot 240 (for the complete manuscript).
- Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968): his MS. W. 103. Chester Beatty had most of the miniatures, including this one, separately mounted, and some were dispersed during his lifetime. His sale, Sotheby's, 22 March 1932, lot 326 (this sale included six miniatures from the manuscript, all contained in similar elaborate frames. The most expensive was the Presentation in the Temple (£7.5s to Maggs) and the miniatures of St John and St Paul each sold for the second highest price, £7 to Schoyer and Cresswick respectively).
- Estelle S. Doheny, and then given to the present owner in 1987 by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in recognition of her service as curator of the Doheny Collection.
J. A. Backhouse, "A Victorian Connoisseur and his manuscripts: the Tale of Mr Jarman and Mr Wing", British Museum Quarterly 32 (1968), pp. 76-92; G. Bartz, Der Boucicaut Meister. Ein unbekanntes Stundenbuch, Rotthalmünster 1999; E. Taburet-Delahaye - F. Avril, Paris 1400. Les arts sous Charles VI, Paris 2004, pp. 280-287.Please note: Two corrections in the provenance:Estelle S. Doheny should read Estelle Doheny. The full title of her Library is ‘The Estelle Doheny Collection of Rare Books and Manuscripts’