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Masterpieces  / Book of Hours

Text: Author: Family: Time:  
The Legend of the fleurs-de-lis (Ref:1171)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

Medieval rulership sought its legitimisation in the tradition of the Church. While the kings of France referred back to the first German ruler who had committed himself to the Church of Rome, all other Germanic peoples that were Christianised during the great migrations had adhered to the Arian movement of the Eastern Church of Constantinople. Clovis (465–511) had been baptised in a Christmas night between 498 and 508 in Reims by bishop Remigius. He was not venerated as a saint himself, but this was indeed the case with the bishop of Reims and Clovis’ wife Clotilda.

The Nativity (Ref:1118)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

St. Barbara (Ref:1150)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

In a paradise-like garden, a hortus conclusus, fortified by walls and towers, there is a huge and royally decorated blue tent with golden decors erected on a meadow spread with flowers and blooming trees. The garden and the golden ropes of the tent are inhabited by birds as they were kept in princely menageries. At the entrance of the flagged open tent Saint Barbara is enthroned with a crown on her virgin like loose hair. She holds a prayer book in her lap and is surrounded by angels playing music. She is dressed like a queen in a royal-blue, embroidered cloak matching the golden patterns of the tent and in a red dress with an ermine collar. The broad, golden waistband alludes to her as a virgin and is the symbol of her chastity, her steadiness and strength.
In the background, behind the walls, some stages of her former life are depicted: to the left her residence tower, still being built, where she was kept by her father, the wealthy Dioscurus of Necomenia. Barbara stands at the foot of the building, giving instructions to the brick-layer (on top), as it is told in her legend: against her fathers knowledge she has a third window installed to her bathroom to symbolize the Holy Trinity, for Barbara had secretly been baptized and adapted Christian faith. In the still moist brickwork she presses the sign of the cross which she holds in her hand. After another legend Barbara, eager to learn more about the Christian religion, had written to the wise Father of the Church, Origines, who has sent a priest for her assistance. To be allowed by her father to meet the priest Barbara passed him off as a medical doctor.

Fallen angels (Ref:1160)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

The Annunciation to the Shepherds (Ref:1107)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

This miniature comes from a manuscript which has been valued as the most famous Book of Hours in the world. It has been the shining example for generations of painters. Its patron Duc de Berry (1340-1416), son of Jean II, King of France, was one of the greatest court art patrons and connoisseurs of his time. His library comprised about 300 precious manuscripts. Before his favour prayer book, the Très riches heures, was completed the Duke died, in the same year as the artists, the brothers Paul, Hermann and John Limburg from Nimwegen. About 69 years later, in 1485, Jean Colombes from Bourges was commissioned by the heirs to complete the work. Colombes, one of the most sensitive painters of his time, was a pupil of the great Jean Fouquet whose teachers, in turn, had been the brothers Limburg. Thus the tradition of the famous predecessors and the stylistic integrity of the work were preserved
The picture of the Annunciation of the Birth of Christ to the shepherds created by the Limburgs – comprises within a small space all the excellent characteristics of the manuscript: the connection of heavenly splendour with idyllic nature, of deep piety, courtly self-representation and rural realism.

May (Ref:1131)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

Among the illustrates prayer-books for the laity in the later Middle Ages, the “Livres d’heures” or books of hours from Flanders hold a particular place in history because of the amazing number of copies produced and preserved and because of the worldly appeal of their illustrations, especially in the preceding calendar-pages. The magnificent creations of the Flemish Limburg brothers, commissioned by Jean, Duc de Berry in the 15th century had provided the patterns for illustrated books of hours for many generations. A wealth of books of hours were still produced in manuscript form in Flanders well into the 16th century, when book-printing had already become a popular medium, and many book-illuminators had transferred their skill to the painting of panels. At this time the Flemish tradition of illumination was acclaimed far and wide beyond the borders of the Netherlands. One of the most famous works of this period is the frequently cited “Grimani Breviary”, which the Venetian Cardinal Grimani acquired in Italy in 1520

The Wedding at Cana (Ref:1138)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

This miniature of the Wedding at Cana, surrounded by a bright fleuronnée with birds and drolleries, belongs to the Book of Hours of Amadée de Saluces in Savoy - as is verified by the coat of arms and the dedication picture (fol. 19) in the manuscript.
Amadée was the daughter and heiress of the Marshal of Savoy, Maimfroy de Saluces, who died in 1455. Considering the patron’s rank this manuscript is remarkably large and abundantly decorated for its time. It mirrors some of the splendour, the wealth and the high standard attained in art at the Court of Savoy where during the 15th century the book-loving and mighty Dukes of Savoy reached the peak of their power in Southern France and Northern Italy.
The manuscript of Amadée de Saluces comprises 348 pages with 34 whole-page miniatures and 23 historicized initials of biblical scenes and those of Saints. After her death Amadée left her precious prayer book to her daughter Catherine, who married Pierre d’Urfé, the Lord High Marshal of France, which is also testified by a coat of arms, which was added later to the manuscript. In 1867 the codex came from a Parisian private owner into the British Museum in London

Archangel Michael (Ref:1134)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

Michael is one of the seven archangels, the highest ranking angels who bear their own names. The apocalyptic slayer of the dragon, the most distinguished leader among the “princes of heavenly multitude”, he is at the same time one of the most mysterious figures of legendary transmission. His name already implies a challenge to Satan, for the Hebrew meaning is “Who is God?” – the question put to Lucifer, the rebellious angel fallen from God and the archetype of evil.
Michael was the powerful patron saint of the Jews after the Exodus; he fought for the people of God (Daniel 10,13) and this image was adopted by the whole of Christianity. Innumerable churches are dedicated to him, his portrait protects against demons, in his name battles were waged and victories attained. He is not only the champion of God and all his faithful but also the helper of individuals. Many localized pagan myths were attributed to him. In the Roman calendar he was assigned three feast days: March 15th, May 8th (the Vision of Michael) and September 29th (Ordination).

St. Margaret of Antioch (Ref:1145)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

It was during the Wars of the Roses which raged from 1455 to 1485 between the House of Lancaster bearing a red rose in their coat of arms, and of York, bearing a white rose; both parties competed to gain the English throne. On 4 March, 1461 Edward IV from the house of York had become king, but the House of Lancaster under the rule of Margaret of Anjou, wife of the mentally diseased Henry VI, was still fighting for its claim. 1470-71, before the big battle, King Edward together with his brother-in-law, Lord Rivers, and with his friend, William Lord Hastings, were living for several months in exile, in Burgundian Flanders. In Bruges they had been guests of the bibliophile collector Louis de Gruthuyse. It may have been here that the king planned to order, through an arrangement of the king’s sister Margaret, wife of the Duke of Burgundy, a library of copies from literary and historical works. Those then laid the foundations of the English Royal Library before it became part of the British Museum. King Edward was eager to support the new technique of printing, which was introduced in England 1476 by William Caxton. Lord Hastings, however, preferred manuscripts. About 1480, that is three years before his death (he was to be beheaded on the order of the Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III), one of the most charming Books of Hours was made, most likely in a Bruges workshop. Lord Hastings’ coat of arms was inserted in fol. 74 and thus the manuscript was named after him. It consists of 297 leaves. Thirty-two miniatures and plenty of marginal illustrations comprising scattered flowers, birds, butterflies and other small animals, testify the last important period of Flemish book illumination, forerunner of later Dutch still-life paintings.

Annunciation and Nativity (Ref:1124)

Author:

Family: Book of Hours    Time: XV century

Lorenzo de Medici, the “Magnificent” (1449-1492), famous member of the illustrious Florentine banking family in its third successful generation, was one of the most powerful men in the history of Italian politics and culture in the fifteenth century and above all was a munificent patron of the arts. He came to be regarded as the personification of the Florentine Renaissance. Yet he was indebted to older traditions as much as he was at ease with the modern. This is made clear by the two related books of lours which he left. One of these came into the possession of the dukes of Bavaria in the 16th century and is now in Munich (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm. 23639). The other had various owners but returned to Florence and came into the Biblioteca Laurenziana in 1878. Both books were produced in the workshop of Francesco d’Antonio del Cherico, active in Florence from 1454. He had been a prominent miniature painter at the court of Lorenzo’s grandfather Cosimo and died in 1484.

       
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