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Linking fragments of the Chester Beatty Hours – Fragment

Parchment · Multiple fragments · 1405 – 1408 CE · Paris, France · 125 x 180 mm


[sine loco], codices restituti
Arnold, Edward Augustus (Previous Owner)
Beatty, Alfred Chester (Fragmentator)
Boucicaut Master (Illuminator)
Jarman, John Boykett (Previous Owner)

The manuscript is one of a few securely dated Books of Hours. The date 1408 is  given in the colophon (f. 158v) now held in the Chester Beatty Library. The scribe has written Factum est anno mo cccco viijo quo ceciderunt pontes parisius - 'made in the year 1408, when the bridges of Paris toppled'. This is a reference to the severe winter of 1407/08 when the Seine River flooded and three of the city’s main bridges (the Petit Pont, the Grand Pont and the Pont Neuf) collapsed and were washed away.

Provenance: The earliest documented record of the manuscript dates to the description in the sale catalogue of  the collection of Sir John Boykett Jarman (1782-1864), auctioned by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 13-14 June 1864. The description (lot 47) states that the Book of Hours was "undoubtedly the Prayer Book of the King of France" because its binding displayed his arms. The manuscript was in Jarman's possession from at least 1846, the year when it (and other items in his collection) suffered water damage when his house was flooded during a severe storm.

At the Jarman sale, publisher Edward Arnold (1857-1942) bought the manuscript for the sum of £13 15s. His collection was subsequently auctioned by Sotheby's, 6 May 1929 (lot 240). The Book of Hours passed into the hands of Chaundy, booksellers in Oxford, and in September was bought by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). Beatty dimantled the manuscript and mounted many of the 28 leaves holding miniatures. He kept some for his collection, gifted three to Harold K. Hochschild (1892-1981) in 1931 and sold six through Sotheby's, 22 March 1932 (lots 322-327). After his death the remaining miniatures and other leaves were auctioned by Sotheby's, 24 June 1969 (lots  58A-58K). The bulk of the leaves were purchased by English book dealers Alan G. Thomas and Folio Fine Art Ltd and dispersed to buyers aound the world.