Harley MS. 2979 and the Books of Hours Produced in Avignon by the Workshop of Jean de Toulouse
Francesca Manzari (notes)
This contribution is centred on Harley MS. 2979, a Book of Hours illuminated in the last decade of the fourteenth century in Avignon, the capital of the antipopes during the Schism. Although now rather worn, it seems to have been one of the finest and most expensive of the Books of Hours from the atelier of Jean de Toulouse known today. The originality of the illuminations in the Calendar shows that it was designed with a specific iconographic programme and not simply re-employing the usual workshop patterns in an almost automatic way. The general appearance of the book, its size, the elegance of the mise-en-page, the choice of more expensive types of letters – even in the secondary decoration, where lettres champies systematically replace the more common filigree initials – and the extensive use of precious pigments, with rubrics in gold introducing even the Hours within the Office of the Virgin, show that it was one of the most elegant and expensive books in Jean's production.