The Tramerie Book of Hours

This manuscript is essential to knowledge about early 16th century Tournai illuminated manuscripts. This book of hours, which was probably commissioned by an English person living in France around 1420-1430, was completed, almost a century later, for someone from Tournai. The Tramerie Book of Hours was created in stages: the first around 1420-1430, in Paris or perhaps Tournai; the second almost a century later in Tournai. The manuscript calendar mentions very local festivals, such as those of Saint Eleutherius, Saint Piatus and the consecration of the cathedral. Some of the names are in the Picard language.

The Tramerie Book of Hours is notable because of the sophistication of the illumination and its shimmering colours. Every page of the book is illuminated and fifteen pages have scenes that are framed in lush borders where plant interlacing gives shelter to fantastical or grotesque animals, birds and insects. The artist was not sparing in his use of gold in order to add further brilliance to the pages. The text is decorated with initials that are historiated or decorated with astonishing creativity. The style of the miniatures shows a mix of French and Flemish influences from a period when Tournai, a “loyal French city”, was on the point of being conquered by the English and then annexed as part of Charles Quint’s domain.

In-depth research on the illumination has yet to be carried out, but an initial examination has already indicated its significance: he Pénitance de David can be attributed to Maître de l’Annibal d’Harvard, a Parisian who had perhaps fled to the north when the English occupied the French capital.

This precious manuscript will be entrusted to the Tournai City Library, which lost a great deal of its heritage during the aerial bombardment of 17 May 1940. This sumptuous work is a fitting companion to the four books of hours that were saved from the library in 1940.

For further information on the Claire and Michel Lemay Fund

Type: 
Book of hours, manuscript
Material / technique: 
Paper, leather
Dimensions: 
223 x 155 mm
Type of acquisition: 
Claire and Michel Lemay Fund acquisition
Year of acquisition: 
2015