Anne Margreet W. As-Vijvers, “Missing Miniatures of the Hours of Louis Quarré,” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 10:1 (Winter 2018) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2018.10.1.2
The Missing Miniatures of the Hours of Louis Quarré
On April 5, 1832, the antiquary and collector Francis Douce (1757–1834) attained a “beautiful horae at Hurd’s sale,” as he described the newest acquisition in his “Collecta” (notebooks).1 The price he paid for the volume, which is currently known as the Hours of Louis Quarré, was the highest that Douce is recorded as having spent on a manuscript. An inheritance received in 1827, after several years of legal wrangling, had finally allowed him to buy the finest manuscripts that came on the market, even though he remained very price conscious throughout his life.2 On his death in 1834, all of Douce’s manuscripts, printed books, coins, and prints were transferred to the Bodleian Library. During the following years, the library produced a printed catalogue with concise descriptions.3 In the 1897 Summary Catalogue, the Bodleian’s librarian, Falconer Madan, wrote that Ms Douce 311 probably lacked eight miniatures: “leaves presumably bearing miniatures are lost after foll. 33, 52, 55, 67, 76, 78, 80, 82, and perhaps elsewhere.”4 It is likely that Francis Douce—who was Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum for several years—had been aware of the missing miniatures. This fact clearly did not hold him back from spending a lot of money on the beautiful manuscript. When leafing through its pages, did he ever consider the possibility that the miniatures taken from his manuscript might still be extant?
The Print Room of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam keeps a Crucifixion miniature that has an unusually tall and narrow format (fig. 1).5 In 1948, Otto Pächt established a link between this Crucifixion and four miniatures formerly in the collection of John Rushout, Lord Northwick (1769–1859).6 Objects from the Northwick collection were sold in 1928 by Sotheby’s in London and the auction catalogue contains reproductions of the four miniatures: the Visitation, the Annunciation to the Shepherds, the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, and the Elevation of the Host. They all have the same tall format and the indicated dimensions (165 x 90 mm) are nearly identical to those of the Amsterdam Crucifixion (166 x 98 mm).7 All five miniatures have been deprived of their border decorations in a similar manner. Pächt attributed the group of five cuttings to the “Master of the Quarré Hours” (see below). Despite this important stylistic observation, Pächt apparently did not consider the possibility that the cuttings may actually have been taken from the Quarré Hours.8