I hope you have been able to get hold of my dissertation. As you will see, the Douce 144 miniature borders were not a direct focus of my research. They were a tangent that I had planned to develop in later research. Subsequently my life and research have changed course, so it was with great interest that I received your e-mail last week. It has been a pleasure to go back to this research from my past, and I would be glad to share it with you. I have no plans of publishing this material so you are welcome to use it. I am sorry that time has dimmed some of my memories. What follows are thoughts and not completed research.

As I argued in my dissertation, I am convinced that all the miniature borders in Douce 144 were by the same craftsman.

Folio 129: Rinceaux Border

Folio 52: Acanthus Border

Folio 63: Hybrid Border


Some miniature borders have plain rinceaux while others are completely acanthus. The hybrid borders that contain both rinceaux and acanthus suggest that the same craftsman was responsible for the rinceaux and acanthus borders. The rinceaux found on the pages with rinceaux and hybrid borders are distinctive to the borders of the miniature pages and are not by the same craftsmen who did the remaining faces of the miniature page bifolios.. It is evident that in Douce 144 the division of labor called for this different specialist to paint just the miniature page borders.

I can confidently identify the decorator of the initials and line endings of this page to the illuminator I have identified as the A Master of the Belles Heures. This same artisan was responsible for the border and text decoration of the other surfaces of this bifolio. The A Master left the borders of the miniature page blank for the other craftsman to complete.

This same division of labor can be found in the Master of the Brussels Initials group borders. Like this latter group of manuscripts, the craftsman responsible for the miniature borders also seems to have been responsible for a good number of the miniatures in Douce 144.

Vienna, ONB, ms .2657, f. 1v.

Paris, BN, fr. 5733, f. 2v.


The distinctive treatment of the rinceaux in Douce 144 allow me to confidently attribute the borders of two of the copies of Jean Petit's Justification to the same artisan: Vienna, ONB, ms 2657 and Paris, BN, fr. 5733 (the Chantilly copy is by a different craftsman) The miniatures of the Vienna and Paris copies are probably by the same miniaturist as found in Douce 144. As Nordenfalk and others have argued, this same miniature style can be found in Paris copy of Gaston Pheobus (fr. 616), although he did not do the borders as far as I can tell.

Oxford, Bodleian Library, Douce 144, fol 28.

Vienna, ONB, ms 1840.


An excellent comparison to Douce 144 can be found in another Vienna ms: ONB 1840. Especially compare the opening of Matins of the Hours of the Virgin of these two mss. I have not seen the Vienna ms. so I am not sure about other connections between these two books. The architectural framework of these two images of the Annunciation suggest a possible link to the Belles Heures. Compare these structures to that included on the miniature on folio 184v of the New York manuscript.

Another manuscript to be added to the mix is a book of hours in London, British Library, Add. 30899.

The Terence manuscript in the Arsenal in Paris has a frontispiece whose border is clearly by our Douce 144 craftsman (a good color plate of this frontispiece can be found in Meiss, Limbourgs and their contemporaries, p fig. 210). Again the style of the drolleries is close to the miniature style of the Douce 144 group. The use of gold leaf rinceaux instead of the painted rinceaux suggests a later dating for this border.

An important aspect of the borders of Douce 144 is that, along with the Master of the Brussels Initials borders, they represent an early appearance of acanthus decoration in Parisian manuscript decoration. There is evidence that Douce 144 is basically contemporary with the Master of the Brussels Initials books. My examination of the Hours of Charles the Noble in Cleveland, the British Library Hours (Add. 29433), and the Oxford Hours suggests that they were done basically at the same time. Some of the evidence for this is that the miniature pages for the 7 Seven Penetential Psalms in the Oxford and Cleveland books were switched. For some reason the Oxford bifolio ended up in the Cleveland Book. There seems to be a scribal break on the verso of the Oxford bifolio indicating that a different scribe was called in to make the adjustment so that the miniature originally intended for the Cleveland book could fit into the Oxford Book. As my dissertation argues the appearance of the two principal Belles Heures decorators in both Add 29433 and Cleveland's Charles the Noble suggests that these were being decorated at the same time. I argued in my dissertation that the Master of the Brussels Initials' books should be dated about 1408-1409 thus at the same time as Douce 144: p. 102 "Both the decorative system and the collaboration of the Belles Heures' illuminators on the bifolio in the London manuscript argue for a dating of this work to the period when the Cloisters' book was under production. Observation of the work of the A Master helps to clarify this dating. Incorporated into the decoration of folio 22v of Add. 29433 are the blue and mauve fleurettes outlined in black ink which have been noted to be characteristic of the latest work of the A Master in the Belles Heures. This evidence suggests a date for this work in the period around the time of the completion of the Belles Heures, which was completed in 1409 at the latest."

All of this leads me to think that the acanthus decoration of Douce 144 and the Master of the Brussels Initials borders influenced the Limbourgs to break from the established decorative plan in the Belles Heures and introduce the acanthus border around the Annunciation and apparently also around the opening of the Gospels extracts as argued by Plummer. I know of no evidence to support a dating of any of the Boucicaut Master borders this early. The earliest dated manuscript to use the Boucicaut style acanthus is a Missal of St. Magloire in the Arsenal (ms. 623) that is dated1412. The Boucicaut Hours I understand should be dated to about this same time (say 1410-1412). As further evidence for this dating, I would argue that there is a shift in aesthetics from the heavier painted rinceaux to the lighter gold leaf rinceaux with painted stems. The first decade is dominated by the painted rinceaux, and it is only with the revised decorative plan of the Belles Heures presumably at the end of this first decade that gold leaf rinceaux gains popularity. The Douce 144 text page borders are possibly an important landmark in this transition. Its text page borders has the gold leaf rinceaux with penned stems. I understand that this is a stage before the Belles Heures. Notice how the Belles Heures borders have the sense of a complete block of border decoration with the staffs around the three sides of the page. Notice how the Boucicaut Hours borders do not combine painted rinceaux with the acanthus, but uses gold leaf rinceaux with pen line stems.

This emphasizes the experimental nature of the Douce 144 borders. The heaviness and boldness of the acanthus is very distinctive. As indicated by borders like the Terence manuscript, the Douce 144 decorator will move towards the lighter aesthetic with the replacement of the painted rinceaux with the gold leaf rinceaux.

This leaves major questions. It is clear about the Italianate source for the Master of the Brussels Initials borders, but what is the source for the Douce 144 borders? I don't have any convincing or conclusive answers, but I do have a hunch. I wonder about a possible Germanic source for the acanthus. Acanthus decoration can be found in German and Bohemian manuscripts, but I have not been able to pin this down. When I was doing my research there was just not enough known about this to develop an argument. In my e-mail a couple of weeks ago, I threw out the possibility to identifying this Douce 144 decorator / miniaturist with the recorded figure Haincelin of Hagenau. See the Nordenfalk article in the Meiss festschrift for some speculations about the identity of Haincelin (especially p. 340). Nordenfalk is intrigued with the identification of Haincelin with the miniaturist of the the Gaston Pheobus ms (fr.616). Haincelin is also known to have been an enlumineur en titre et valet de chambre for Louis duc de Guyenne, the Dauphin. This suggests a possible connection to the Terence frontispiece which was owned by the Dauphin. I know this evidence is flimsy, but I would want to look more into potential Germanic sources for the border decoration of Douce 144 as possible corroborating evidence. Up until now scholars have based their arguments on assessment of miniature styles, but I think border styles are more localizable.

Another facet that needs to be explored is the relationship of the Douce 144 borders to the Bedford Master group of mss. Is this a related artist, or is this an early stage of the Bedford Master group? Study of the borders seem to be a plausible way to attempt to resolve these questions.

I hope what I have presented above is helpful to your research. I realize that much I have presented is a complicated house of cards, but even after over twenty years, I am still convinced that more attention needs to be decorated to the secondary decoration of manuscripts. I wish you the best of luck with your project, and I would look forward to updates as to your progress. I certainly would be glad to respond to any questions that you might have.

Oxford, Bodleian Library Douce 144

Folio 1: St. John on Patmos (Sequentiae).


Walters Art Museum, ms. 265, folio 15.

Folio 5v: St. Mark (Sequentiae)

Walters Art Museum, ms 265, folio ?

Folio 28: Annunciation: Matins of the Hours of the Virgin.

Folio 52: Visitation: Lauds of the Hours of the Virgin.

Walters Art Museum, ms. 265, folio 56v

Folio 63: Nativity: Prime of the Hours of the Virgin.

Walters Art Museum, ms. 265, folio 69.

Folio 68v: Annunciation to the Shepherds: Terce of the HBVM

Folio 69v (S decorator) and Folio 70 (U decorator)

Folio 72v: Adoration of the Magi: Sexte of the HBVM

Walters Art Museum, ms. 265, folio 80.

Folio 76v: Presentation in the Temple: None of the HBVM

Walters Art Museum, ms 265, folio 85.

Folio 80v: Flight to Egypt: Vespers of the HBVM

Walters Art Museum, ms. 265, folio ?

Folio 105: Story of St. Gregory: Litany

Folio 108v: Story of St. Gregory: Litany

Folio 109: Story of St. Gregory: Litany

Folio 110: Story of St, Gregory: Litany

Folio 111v: Crucifixion: Hours of the Cross.

Walters Art Museum, ms 265, folio 128.

Folio 119v (A Master)- Folio 120 (R Master)

Folio 123: Madonna and Child Enthroned: Fifteen Joys of the Virgins.

Walters Art Museum, m. 265, folio 194.

Folio 128v: Christ in Judgment with the Virgin and St. John the Baptist: Five Wounds of Christ.

Paris, BN, fr. 173, fol 2.

Folio 129: St. Michael : Suffrages. This is one of a number of miniatures that were executed by a painter associated with the Boucicaut style. The separating of individual hand from collective style is quite problematic in the Boucicaut style. The borders of the page are done by the same craftsman who did the other miniature borders and are not by the Boucicaut artist.

Folio 131: St. Paul: Suffrages.

Folio 132: St. Andrew: Suffrages.

Folio 133: St. John the Evangelist: Suffrages.

Folio 135: St. Denis: Suffrages.

Folio ? (AMaster); Folio ? (R Master)

Folio 44v- Folio 45: T Master (Notice the acanthus in the upper border of folio 44v. The similarities to the miniature borders suggest that the same artist who did both).





I have added in the table above comparisons of the Douce 144 miniatures to corresponding miniatures in Baltimore, Walters ms. 265. These comparisons have striking compositional and stylistic similarities. The borders in the Walters book are done by a separate decorator who I have found in a number of other books including: Brussels, Bibl. Roy 11140, Geneva, Bibl publ et univ, fr. 77, fol 96, Paris, BN, nouv. acq lat 3107. I have a strong suspicion that this same decorator did much of the decoration of Mazarine 406, but the resolution of the images on the website are too small to be sure. In BN fr. 172 and 173 this same decorator collaborated with a miniaturist that is probably our "youthful Bedford Master". The decorator undoubtedly left blank spaces for the drolleries. These are very close to those in the Douce 144 group. Note how the acanthus included in a number of these drolleries is connected to the Douce 144 acanthus.

Paris, BN, fr. 172, fol 5.

Paris, Bibl. nat., fr. 173, fol 2.

Chester Beatty Leaves

When intact, f. 158v is known to have had the following inscription: Factum est anno m cccc viii quo ceciderunt pontes parisiis. Virtually the same inscription appears in Douce 144. This suggests a relationship between these books in at least the work of the scribe. The Bedford and Boucicaut styles are clearly connected between these two books, but the decoration of miniature pages is strikingly different with the Chester Beatty miniatures being decorated with the traditional acanthus decoration in contrast to the innovative borders of Douce 144.

St Mark, Bailieu Library, University of Melbourne Victoria. See Margaret M. Manion and Vera F. Vine, Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in Australian Collections, New York: 1984, no. 73, pp. 181-182.

Annunciation,Bailieu Library, University of Melbourne Victoria. See Margaret M. Manion and Vera F. Vine, Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts in Australian Collections, New York: 1984, no. 73, pp. 181-182.

Coronation of the Virgin (Boucicaut Style: close to miniatures in the St. Maur Hours (Paris, BN, Nouv. acq. lat. 3107), The William Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center (69.7.1), Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Published in Jarolsav Folda and John M. Schnorrenberg, A Medieval Treasury from Southeastern Collections, 1971, no. 40, p. 42 & 74.


King David in Prayer opening Penitential Psalms (Bedford style: close to miniatures in Walters Art Museum, ms. 265 (see comparison to corresponding page below). The William Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center (69.7.2), Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Published in Jarolsav Folda and John M. Schnorrenberg, A Medieval Treasury from Southeastern Collections, 1971, no. 39, p. 41

Christ as Judge. Boucicaut Style. German, Private Collection. Published in Manion and Vines.

Baltimore, Walters Art Museum, ms. 265, f. 105.

Page from the Penetential Psalms, Ithaca, Private Collection (on loan to the Herbert Johnson Museum). The decorator can be identified as the A Master's Assistant as found in Douce 144.

Descent of the Holy Spirit, Bedford Style. German, Private Collection. Published in Manion and Vines.

St. Paul from Suffrages, Ithaca, Private Collection (on loan to the Herbert Johnson Museum).


Verso of St. Paul Page, Ithaca, Private Collection (on loan to the Herbert Johnson Museum).

Mirror Image of St. Paul page. Text shows the suffrage to St. Stephen and the impression of the miniature of the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, Ithaca, Private Collection (on loan to the Herbert Johnson Museum).

Manion and Vines, p. 182 give a good history of the book. The manuscript was apparently broken up when it was in the Chester Beatty collection. Three leaves were given away in June 1931 and are now in Princeton. Six were sold at Sotheby's on 22 March 1932, lots 322-327, and the remainder were sold at the Chester Beatty Sale on 24 June 10 1969. Other miniatures are in the Barber Institute, Birmingham as well as the Ackland Memorial Art Center in Chapel Hill and in a German Private collection. An additional leaf is on loan to the Herbert Johnson Museum in Ithaca, New York.


Douce 144, fol. 63 det.



Vienna, ONB, ms. 2657, f 1v det.



Paris, BN, fr 5733, f. 1v det.

London, British Library, Add. 30899, det.

Paris, Arsenal, ms 664, folio 1v The use of gold leaf rinceaux as opposed to the painted rinceaux is probably an indication of the slightly later date of this decoration than the other manuscripts. A general trend can be seen in borders at the beginning of the second decade of the 15th century to move away from the heavier painted rinceaux to the lighter gold leaf rinceaux with ink stems. This is not an absolute rule but a general trend.


The table above is intended to show the similarities in the rinceaux decoration of these manuscripts demonstrating that they are in all probability by the same craftsman. No one feature is absolutely distinctive to this artisan, but collectively they reflect a unity reflective of a single hand. Note the rinceaux leaves with their pronounced splayed base; the tendrils in the pen line rinceaux have the same formation of a comma stroke followed by a couple of delicate strokes and completed by an elongated "S"" curve; gold and painted balls appear interspersed in the border; the junctures of stems in the rinceaux are frequently marked by a gold shape; and many of the same fleurettes appear in the borders of these manuscripts.

Whenever I have found this style of rinceaux decoration, it has been in the borders of miniature pages. I have not found it in the manuscripts I have examined to date on the other surfaces of the bifolios. Mazarine 406 is important here since this confirms that the border decoration of the large miniature page(s?) were treated differently from the other surfaces of the bifolios. The completed initials on the verso of this leaf are legible through the semi-transparent parchment. Mazarine 406 is useful by demonstrating that the borders and miniatures were being worked on concurrently. In other unfinished manuscripts I have seen it is more regular to see the decoration and painting of miniatures as discrete stages. An excellent demonstration of this is presented by the unfinished portions of the Salisbury Breviary. The concurrent production of the borders and miniature on the frontispiece of Maz 406 suggests that the same craftsman was responsible for both.

This style of rinceaux decoration is also important in that it enables us to identify this traditional decoration with the extravagant acanthus decoration. In Douce 144 you very evidently have a mix of types of border decoration with traditional rinceaux decoration, entirely acanthus decoration, and hybrid borders that mix the rinceaux and acanthus forms. The rinceaux style when it is found with acanthus decoration, it is found with Douce 144 type of acanthus. This allows for the identification of all these borders by a single decorator.

The rinceaux style and acanthus style is also important for helping to attribute the miniatures associated with it. It is evident in manuscripts like Douce 144, the border specialist did decorate borders for different miniaturists like the Boucicaut style miniatures. The style of drolleries found in these borders clearly link this style to the "Bedford Trend" miniature style in Douce 144. Through the appearance of the distinctive rinceaux in the borders of the Paris and Vienna copies of the Justification, it is plausible to attribute the miniatures on these pages to this same miniaturist.


Best wishes,
Allen Farber
222 Fine Arts Center
State University of New York College at Oneonta
Oneonta. New York 13820