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Chew breviary, use of Poitiers, 1450 - 1475

Identifier: MS 29


This is a French breviary from the fourth quarter of the fifteenth century.

Table of contents: Calendar of Poitiers; Temporal from Advent through the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; Common of the Dedication of a Church; Sequuntur suffragia quae dicuntur in Ecclesia Pictavensi; Sequuntur benedictiones dicendae ad matutinas per annum; Liturgical Psalter begins incompletely in Psalm 1; Canticles: Benedicite omnia opera, Te Deum, Magnificat, Nunc dimittis; Litany with prayers; Prayers and Suffrages to be said during the Office throughout the year;


  • Creation: 1450 - 1475


1 volumes

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Written in France about 1460 for use at Poitiers. Possibly, considering the prominence of St. Hilary in the text, for the church of St. Hilaire le Grand. Early provenance unknown. Shelf number on lower spine and repeated inside front cover: Ya1/11. Purchased by Samuel C. and Lucy Evans Chew in 1921 in The Hague.

Other related names

  1. Chew, Samuel C. and Lucy Evans, former owners
  2. Chew, Lucy Evans, donor

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given to Bryn Mawr College in 1962 by Lucy Evans Chew.

Related Materials

A digitized version of this manuscript can be found online at:

Physical Description

In August 2013, Samuel Gras, doctoral candidate at the Université de Lille III, identified the painter of the borders as part of the circle of the Jouvenel Group, in the Loire Valley, perhaps a painter called the Master of Adelaide de Savoie or the Master of Poitiers Ms 30. (Compare the painting in Chantilly, Musée Condé, MS 76, by this painter).

Parchment support, ff. i-iii (contemporary paper, i=front pastedown) + iv (parchment) + 232 + iii (contemporary paper, iii=back pastedown).

Gold-tooled vellum, probably early 19th-century. On upper spine handwritten in ink on paper label: Bréviaire/ Manuscrit./ 15e.

iii+232+iii; 186 x 143 mm bound to 199 x 149 mm

Two columns, twenty-nine or thirty-two lines, ruled in red ink with single vertical and horizontal bounding lines, full length; remains of prickings visible at outer margins, written area: 115 x 87 mm; Calendar five columns, thirty-three lines, ruled in red ink with single vertical and horizontal bounding lines, full length; remains of prickings visible at outer margins.

Gothic--textualis quadrata script. Written by several scribes.

The extensive mutilation, as well as the exceptionally high quality of the remaining decoration,suggests a past presence of illustration, yet the existing illuminations are restricted to border decorations and initials. Nevertheless, the precision of line and brilliance of color, as well as the charm of the drolleries, birds, and insects in many of these borders raise this manuscript well above the average. The four-sided border decorations on ff. 167v, 174r, 180v, and 188v are the most elaborate, with several drolleries and at least one bird or insect nestled amid a three-sided border of gold and lapis lazuli acanthus leaves and naturalistic bright red carnations with gold and light green leaves. Additionally each page includes a selection of other flowers, also naturalistically rendered, in blue, pink, red, and violet; and blue, pink, and gold berries; strawberries, and gold seedpods. The detail on many of these decorations is so fine that they appear to be three dimensional. Black penwork leaves infilled with gold line the inner margin of these borders which are set off from the text by a gold frame extending from a 6-line red initial on a blue ground; both initial and ground are overlaid with a tracery of gold acanthus leaves and outlined in gold. If the initial is in the inner column, the frame continues up the center margin separating the two columns.

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