Eberhard König * Devotion from Dawn to Dusk



Eberhard König * Devotion from Dawn to Dusk
Pagina 1
Eberhard König
Devotion from Dawn to Dusk
Pagina 2
© Eberhard König, 2012
isbn 978-90-5997-119-6
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission
of the publisher.
Text edited by Gary Schwartz
Design: Primavera Pers
Printing: Nautilus, Leiden
Pagina 3
Devotion from Dawn to Dusk
The Office of the Virgin in Books of Hours
of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague
Eberhard König
Primavera Pers, Leiden 2012
Pagina 4
1. The Hague, kb, ms. 76 F 6, fol. 13v, Isabella Hours: Annunciation.
Pagina 5
2. The Hague, kb, ms. 76 F 6, fol. 14r, Isabella Hours: Visitation.
Pagina 6
Pagina 7
n modern times Christian praying has become a rarity. On
the whole, it has been relegated to purely ceremonial functions such as church services, the Roman Catholic mass, or
the duty of members of religious orders. Quite a few young people today, seeing an elderly person performing a rosary in a bus
or train, may even think that they are witnessing an oriental custom alien to Christianity.
There are of course still occasions when prayer is part of public life. It can even become a kind of mass happening, as when
the Pope comes to World Youth Days or when Protestant evangelicals, mostly in the United States, try to transform moral
standpoints into political action. Despite this, it seems safe to
say that individual prayer has largely disappeared from the lives
of Christians in the western world. Christians have stopped
teaching their family to pray at table, and parents increasingly
forget how beneficial it can be for children to say a prayer before
dark. To the extent that it has survived at all, individual prayer is
reduced either to a crutch when death or despair knocks at the
door or a response to burning spiritual need. Even in these situations, however, few people turn to prayer.
Things were not always that way. There were times when the
good Christian, no matter what his or her station in life, prayed
non-stop. They would start in the morning when swinging the
right leg out of bed and not stop even when turning in for the
night. In part, this behaviour was dictated by mere superstition
or the fear of mental sin. Reciting a prayer could dispel the stray
urges or sinful thoughts that test the weakness of the flesh. But
prayer also bore more positive qualities. While church services
tended to be addressed towards an abstract God or a Saviour
dwelling somewhere in the skies, individual prayer was a plea
for divine consolation on earth. It helped worshippers to feel in
harmony with their Creator, Redeemer and, at the end of days,
their Judge.
Praying is bound up inextricably with time. It follows the
rhythms of the times of day and the feasts and seasons of the
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year. When people entered monasteries or convents, they gave
up the world and what are called temporal pleasures. They
entered a much more rigid realm of time, in which their days
were filled with prayer. Not only did they pray from dawn to
dusk – at sunrise, 6, 9, 12 and 3 p.m. and then at sunset and the
beginning of the night – but also at three interruptions of their
night’s rest, at 9 p.m., midnight and 3 o’clock in the morning.
The texts to be read at those hours changed in the course of the
year to follow two cycles. The clergy observed both the feasts of
the saints in the so-called Sanctorale and the feasts of the Lord
and Sundays in the Temporale.
Laymen entertained a similar ideal. They too strove to be released from secular time and to live by a more spiritual tempo.
The growing tendency on the part of the laity to copy what was
done in the religious houses led at the beginning of the 13th century to a remarkable paradox in the history of spirituality. At the
very moment when laymen started to take over the habits of religious orders, the Franciscans and Dominicans, who served so
often as confessors to laymen, were giving up the strict exercise
of prayer in the monastic community.
Christian praying was not based on a choice from a collection of
single prayers. It was embedded in a full devotional context that
guided the behaviour of laymen as well as priests, monks and
nuns throughout the day and the year. The clerics were served by
thick volumes, curiously called Breviaries, from the Latin word
for short: brevis. Laymen made use of a form of prayer book – the
Book of Hours – that was nearly as old as the Breviary.1 In both
types of book, the system of texts consisted in the first place of
Offices, duties accomplished for God. In Breviaries, these
changed in the course of the liturgical year, while Books of
Hours contained one and the same Office of the Virgin and one
Office of the Dead, separated by the Penitential Psalms and the
Litany of Saints. Both Breviaries and Books of Hours opened
with a more or less accurate Calendar of the liturgical year.
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Offices were compiled of Psalms, from the Old Testament Book
of Psalms, and Canticles, taken from various books of the Old
and the New Testament, as well as brief readings partly taken
from the Bible. Those in the Office of the Virgin were short
phrases, while the Office of the Dead incorporated substantial
quotations from the book of Job. A Book of Hours for laymen
could include numerous texts from a wide variety of sources. We
frequently encounter invocations of the Trinity, the Virgin Mary
and the saints, though seldom in the form of direct requests on
the part of the worshipper. A more common formula was the socalled suffrage, praising the merits of the saint as an intercessor,
but ending with a prayer to God.
Breviaries and Books of Hours were not intended to tell a story.
Even though, as we shall see, the enormous variety of available
materials made it possible to organise a Book of Hours as if it
were a picture book of the life of Christ, this was not the main
point. The texts in a Book of Hours would include a set of four
readings from the Gospels recapitulating the process of Salvation. They would start with the first chapter from the Gospel of
Saint John announcing that the word became flesh and climax in
Saint Mark’s rendition of the last words of Jesus on earth. Sometimes a fifth reading was added, which would be the Passion of
Christ from the Gospel according to Saint John.
Rhymed verses, which would make a story easier to remember, were included mainly in one kind of text alone: the chapters
in the Hours – not the Offices – devoted to the Holy Cross and
the Holy Spirit. Texts of this kind offered a flexibility that made
it possible to apply them to a variety of devotions in Books of
Hours.2 Perhaps the single most interesting example worldwide
is to be found in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek: ms. 130 E 17, which
may be a fragment of a thicker volume. The 39 leaves of this
book, provided with astonishing borders of the late 16th or even
18th century, have a completely unprecedented composition.
They start with the Hours of the Trinity and continue with those
for Saints Catherine, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist,
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Mary Magdalene and Barbara in order to finish with the Hours
of the Passion, all introduced by miniatures of the Flemish Gold
Scroll style of the mid-15th century.
Latin was the language of the clerics and of the Bible. As the
core of texts was taken from the Psalter and the various Cantica
came from the Bible as well, the language of most early prayer
books for laymen was Latin. The oldest texts have a somewhat
abstract character, lacking specific references. Certainly, death
dominates the Office of the Dead, but on the other hand, the
name of the Virgin Mary is rarely included in her Office. The worshipper in seach of narrative details in the Office of the Virgin
Mary will be disappointed. Not all Books of Hours even included
an image of her.
These circumstances created two barriers for the understanding of Books of Hours: they were written in a hieratic language
that was not read by many laymen, and their structure did not
provide easy access to the spiritual contents of the book.
Vernacular bits and pieces entered Books of Hours in the form of
rubrics or prayers, but this could not help ordinary people grasp
the sense of what they were reading. Criticism of this situation,
which until the 16th century was generally suppressed, led in
the end to the abandonment of this kind of devotion. That and
the Reformation. Even following the turmoil of the Reformation, it took the church half a century longer to understand that
this was a problem. The obligation to read the daily Hours was
not rescinded until the Council of Trent, in the early 1560s.
The Book of Hours was a spiritual tool conceived for laymen,
but it was not transparent to them. As a concession of the clergy
to the laity, it was problematic, to put it mildly. On the face of it,
the Book of Hours offered a door to spiritual discourse with God,
but the unlearned worshipper found that the door was closed.
To use it on a day-to-day basis required acceptance not only of
the language of the priests but also of an abstract conception of
devotion. The effect was that believers were deprived of ready
access to the divine in their own language. Rather than allowing
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that the Almighty might be capable of understanding the vernacular, the church operated on the principle that Divinity
could be addressed only in the most ceremonial way and language. If the requirement to speak to Him in Latin and to use
formulae which were as distant as possible from the experience
of everyday life created a rift between the worshipper and God,
this was just fine. It was exactly what the official Church wanted. As a phenomenon of social history, prayer of this kind is perfectly comparable with the ritual of the royal court of England,
where the king was to be addressed in French.
There was only one country in the Latin world where frustration with this kind of distanced prayer was felt to be unbearable:
the Northern Netherlands. The transformation of the Book of
Hours that took place here in the latter 14th century – a period
predating the boom in Books of Hours in the century to come –
was of paramount importance for late medieval spirituality. It
was here that the priest and preacher of penitence Geert Grote
(1340-August 20, 1384), whom the Church authority had forbidden to preach, translated the Latin Book of Hours into the vernacular. The enormous success of Grote’s work was due not only
to the fact that he made the traditional texts of this major compilation understandable for all. He also added a new set of Hours
of great importance: the Hours of Eternal Wisdom. What the
Dutch call a getijdenboek therefore came into being together with
the Getijden van de Eeuwige Wijsheid. The text of this writing is in
its way as abstract as the rest of the Book of Hours, but it was at
least written in a language that did not have to be translated.
When a text was translated from Latin into the vernacular in
the late Middle Ages, manuscripts of the translation were often
aimed at a market of well-to-do laymen. This audience was also
receptive to high-quality miniatures. Against this background,
it is understandable that late medieval manuscripts are often
richly illuminated. This is conveyed in the term Bible historiale
for Bible versions in French, which are often quite far from the
Latin Vulgate of Saint Jerome. The verb historier defines the work
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of illuminators who painted pictures illustrating a text passage.
In such circumstances, the vulgarisation of the text went hand
in hand with the production of pictures that clarified its meaning. This is true not only for sacred but also profane texts.
Manuscripts of Boccaccio’s Latin books are void of miniatures,
but those in French translation are richly illustrated.
A striking exception to this rule is encountered in Dutch Books
of Hours. Rather than evoking a richer complement of illuminations, translation into Dutch apparently made it possible to
reduce radically the number of miniatures in a manuscript! A
simple statistic reveals that of the overwhelming number of
Northern Netherlandish manuscripts copied in Dutch, most had
no more than a few historiated initials or full-page miniatures.
The richly illuminated examples are to be found mainly in the
mere seven per cent which were still in Latin.3
If a Dutch Book of Hours was illuminated at all, each text unit
was likely to have no more than a single or double page with paintings. No attempt at narrative was undertaken. Most illustrations
were stand-alone images of the Saviour, the Virgin Mary, the Man
of Sorrows, Pentecost, the Trinity, the Last Judgement and the
Souls in Purgatory. Only now and then would they be enhanced
with multi-figure scenes of the Annunciation, the Crucifixion, the
12-year-old Jesus in the Temple or a burial scene (fig. 4).4
Any attempt to account for this reversal of a European trend will
come up with more than one possible reason. The first one to
suggest itself is the acute sense for modesty and even poverty in
the spiritual circles that promoted the getijdenboek in Dutch. The
logic behind this was more a moral issue than a matter of cutting expenses. We can say this because the Books of Hours we are
discussing were not cheap. They could be decorated lavishly
with calligraphy or illumination in gold and colours. It’s just
that they were nearly devoid of pictures. This is particularly the
case of the Office of the Virgin, to which this paper is devoted. In
contrast to the translations into French of sacred and profane
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texts to which we have referred, which were more richly illuminated than their Latin originals, once the text of the Office was
made understandable to Dutch readers, they apparently no
longer felt the need for pictures. A contributing factor may have
been the growing realisation that the conventional miniatures
in Books of Hours, with their narrative tendency to depict stories from the Annunciation to the Coronation of the Virgin,
were far removed from the text itself.
The insight that text and traditional image did not necessarily
correspond in the central Office of a Book of Hours sheds light on
the role of text and pictures in the Office of the Virgin in conventional Latin Books of Hours as well. The recital of the prayers followed a strict order, day by day and year by year. The daily
rhythm was based on the eight-hour passage from dawn to dusk;
the annual cycle followed the seasons, from spring to winter or
from the shortest to the longest day. The events of Salvation
found their place in the Calendar, sometimes in perfect synchrony. An impressive example is the timing of the Annunciation on March 25th and the Nativity exactly nine months later.
(December 25th was considered the shortest day of the year.) The
same term of gestation is respected with regard to the pregnancy
of Mary’s mother Anne, who met Joachim at the Golden Gate on
December 8th in order to give birth to the Virgin on September
8th. But there were quite a few other events that do not line up as
consistently as these. Take the Visitation, for example, when the
pregnant Virgin meets her relative Elisabeth, bearing John the
Baptist (Luke 1:39-56). This is celebrated on July 2nd, a bit more
than one week after the birth of John the Baptist in the shortest
night of the year. That the Presentation in the Temple is celebrated on February 2nd sits poorly with the dating of the Flight into
Egypt on the day of the Massacre of the Innocents, as early as
December 28th.
As far as the division of the day is concerned, one sequence of
events stood out from all others: the Passion of Christ, which
started on the eve of Good Friday on the Mount of Olives and
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ended with His burial at the beginning of the following night. It
was only natural to meditate in one’s daily prayers on those
events, which are easily related to the times of day: the Redeemer
is arrested at dawn, elevated on the Cross at noon, dies at 3 p.m.,
is taken down at sunset and buried in the nightly tomb. Prayers
could easily take account of the events of Good Friday no matter
at what period of the year they were recited.
This was not true of meditations on the Virgin Mary. The main
events of her life, from the Childhood of Christ to the Assumption, are not readily linked to particular times of day. The first
event in the Virgin’s life to be commemorated in prayer is the
Annunciation, but it was considered inappropriate to think of
the visit of Gabriel as having taken place during the dark hours
before sunrise. Most Books of Hours refer in the early morning
prayer to the Visitation, the arrival of the Virgin Mary at
Elisabeth’s house, which could not have taken place at sunrise.
And so it goes. The order of Hours makes the Nativity an event of
Prime, 6 o’clock in the morning, and delays the Annunciation to
the Shepherds to Terce, 9 a.m.
When scholars analyse books they like to back up their hypotheses with textual proofs. The introduction I have just offered
is however not based on a given source, for the simple reason
that nearly no such text has ever been written down in a Book of
Hours.5 Text and image take different paths, with an astonishing variety between one place and period and the next. This is
especially true of the Office of the Virgin, the main part of any
Book of Hours. What we find are innumerable examples of
divergent usages. Each variant contains hints as to how that particular book was read. When we attempt to reconstruct the specific surroundings in which Books of Hours were employed and
how this affected their use, we encounter an astonishing range
of possibilities.
Observations of this kind help us to understand the role of pictures in Books of Hours: they provide a visual context that is not
only missing from the text but may actually be in opposition to
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it. First and foremost, they supply the worshipper with objects
of meditation when reading the Office of the Virgin. But that is
not all. Illumination in the Middle Ages nearly always served as
well as a page finder; in books without titles, organised just by
rubrics, pictures took over the function of guiding the reader
through volumes that were typically packed with script in black
ink and that follow a design principle best described as extreme
horror vacui. Colour for initials and borders formed a welcome
adjunct to books that were meant to be read from beginning to
end. Pictures added to the appeal and functionality of this kind
of visual guide. But Books of Hours were not used that way: quite
to the contrary, different devotions had to be made available for
different hours of the day. This meant that the reader needed
better guidelines than incipits highlighted by initial decoration
or sequential illumination from the first to the last page.
The relatively small size of Books of Hours made it impractical
to use foliation or running titles to help find a given passage.
This negative effect was probably aggravated by the minimal literacy of the owners of Books of Hours, who may not have been
acquainted with longer texts and their systems of numbering
and rubrication. To make matters worse, the strictly formalised
texts, especially of the Offices and Hours, made it difficult to
identify a specific Hour. Six of the eight Hours in the Office of
the Virgin, for example, start with the same formula: Deus in
adiutorium meum intende (God make speed to save me). The
rubrics in the Office of the Virgin are so short that they are not
of much help in distinguishing one Hour from the other; often,
they are left out altogether.
People who did not really understand Latin may through
sheer repetition have eventually learned to find the different
Psalms they needed to recite during the day. But the most helpful aid for this purpose was a picture cycle. Whether they were
perceived as a decorative addition to the text or as a sequence
with a logic of its own, the miniatures in Books of Hours constitute a system of visual signals created by the painter. They estab-
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lished a set of associations of a different order than the text, to
which the text served as a kind of musical accompaniment. If
one followed the orientation of the pictures, it was not necessary
that they correspond to every single passage in a Book of Hours.
Reading a getijdenboek in the vernacular apparently provided the
believer with so much deeper an understanding of the text than
the Latin source that there was less need for pictures. This may
explain the minor importance of pictures in getijdenboeken. They
were made truly to be read. If the worshipper could behold
and comprehend the words of the book, he or she had less need
of a pictorial framework as a point of departure and a means of
A look at Italian conventions is revealing in this respect. As
opposed to the Netherlands, where knowledge of Latin was limited to a small segment of society, in Italy every literate person
had relatively easy access to the language on account of its similarity to Italian. Under these circumstances, one would expect
that Latin Books of Hours in Italy need not be illuminated. And
that is indeed the case. Most Books of Hours from Italy are as
poorly illustrated as most vernacular examples from the
Northern Netherlands. This is especially notable with regard to
the motifs accompanying the Office of the Virgin. In both countries, one picture was often sufficient: painted into an initial for
Matins, the first Hour, one finds an image of the Virgin and
Child, sometimes accompanied by a full-page miniature of the
Annunciation. In Italy, the Hours within this framework for
devotion to the Virgin, if introduced by pictorial elements, usually start with simple initials. If they contain images of saints,
these lack readable attributes, making them worthless as guides
to memory.6 The lack of a need to make a clear point at this juncture is in line with the fact that the worshippers read Latin. This
gave them access to the contents of the Office itself as opposed
to a meditation that had nothing to do with the literal meaning
of the prayer. They simply did not need pictures for meditation.
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If there is one ideal repository for the study of the differences
between the vernacular in the Netherlands, the special conditions in Italy and the broad production of sophisticated Latin
Books of Hours from France and the Southern Netherlands, it is
where we are gathered at present, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in
The Hague, the National Library of the Netherlands. Here a
remarkable collection of Latin Books of Hours from all over
Western Europe – Spain and perhaps England included – is kept
alongside the most important collection of getijdenboeken from
the Netherlands itself. As could be expected, the largest group of
manuscripts comes from the Northern Netherlands; but this core
group is surrounded by an impressive number of top-quality
examples from other countries. The only area of western Europe
not represented are the German-speaking countries, where such
books were hardly made at all.7
The collection in The Hague has its origins in the holdings of
the House of Orange and other early libraries in the Netherlands. Wise acquisitions and an acute sense for the safekeeping
of precious manuscripts and books have made this library one of
the leading manuscript collections in the world; these riches
have inspired the present booklet, the publication of which
was made possible by the hospitality and generosity of the
Koninklijke Bibliotheek and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (nias).
In 1985 a concise survey of the illuminated manuscripts in the
Koninklijke Bibliotheek was published.8 However, the idea of
going further down that road and cataloguing the manuscripts
in book form has largely been abandoned in favour of publication on Internet; the entries from the 1985 catalogue have indeed
been reworked extensively on the electronic platform. Several
remarkable exhibitions arranged by former keeper Anne
Korteweg have made the public aware of the importance of the
collection.9 An impressive campaign generated Internet access
to the miniatures of every single manuscript in the library, with
comments on their iconography and complete bibliographies.
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Nearly every object mentioned here can be traced so satisfyingly
in Anne Korteweg’s catalogues and the kb Internet entries that I
can refrain from describing or annotating them at length here.10
Fresh information about the history of the collection is provided by Ed van der Vlist in a book just published.11
Most of our knowledge about the compilation of the texts, their
illumination and the structure of Books of Hours is based on
comparisons and statistics. As an unintended consequence, the
view of the historian is heavily influenced by the successful end
results of developments, of which there are necessarily more
examples than of the experimental beginnings. Nevertheless, we
are sometimes vouchsafed a glimpse of what it was like to invent
a manuscript from scratch. A prime example is one of the most
venerable manuscripts in The Hague, a book that was already
praised in 1750 as ‘très magnifique, enrichi de Superbes Miniatures, d’un gout fin & délicat’.12
The book under consideration, ms. 76 F 6 of the Koninklijke
Bibliotheek, is universally known as the Hours of Isabella of Castile.
The name does not get us very far. The manuscript was certainly
not made for the most famous Isabella of Castile, the so-called
Catholic Queen, who reigned over Spain with her husband
Ferdinand of Aragon and lived from 1451 to 1504. As there have
been other Isabellas of Castile,13 it is an open question whether the
name conceals some historical fact, and today we shall leave it at
that. We do know where the manuscript was written – the Visconti
court of Milan – which is also where its illumination was begun.
Lombard manuscript illumination of the turn of the 15th century
is famous for its formidable richness of inspiration, notably in
nature studies and architectural decoration. The status of manuscript illumination in Milan at that time was such that the magister
operis, the official in charge of the Cathedral building, was an illuminator, Giovannino dei Grassi. It was in Milan that the most beautiful and daring sketchbook of nature studies, the Tacuinum of
Bergamo, was made.
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Of all the impressive achievements to have been accomplished
in Milan, the one that offers the most meaningful comparison to
the manuscript in The Hague is the Visconti Hours, now in the
Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence. It was begun by the de Grassi
studio in a first campaign, but left unfinished by them and completed only when Belbello da Pavia had been engaged. The illumination of the volume in The Hague had an even more fraught
start: it was begun in the years before 1402, when Gian Galeazzo
Visconti died, and then left unfinished. A second attempt to
have it illuminated in Milan is marked by French inspiration in
the border design, which sheds light on the international connections prevalent at the time. It lasted at least another century
before the initials were finished. Their style is difficult to date or
locate precisely. The work was carried out either in Naples under
Aragonese rule or in Spain, where the contents of the book were
checked by an inquisitor of Madrid on January 17, 1574.14
The illuminators seem to have started their work not at the
beginning of the volume, which is the Calendar, but at its first
text, the Matins of the Virgin, on fol. 13v (fig. 1). As if they were
rethinking the idea of what illumination could be, the painter
and his workshop set out to enliven every painted letter. They
threw out the window the idea of hierarchy that related the quality of a historiated initial to its size, with the biggest initials
being the best. In an attempt to paint any and all passages of the
text that could be expressed by a pictorial motif, the illuminators put their best efforts into tiny pictures. Armed with a good
understanding of Latin, they pored over the text with a finetooth comb, not even leaving out formulas such as the Gloria at
the end of many prayers.
This total approach to the illumination of a text, taking every
single phrase into consideration as a possible picture, could not
be cast in an overall system; it relied on the artist’s inspiration,
step by step. Look only at the one-line initials that start on fol.
14r (fig. 2), where the text Gloria patri … (Glory be to the Father)
is illustrated by a person uttering praise to a beardless God in
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glory. On the verso, in the initial S, an elegant woman points to
the formula Sicut erat in principio (As it was in the beginning …).
As small as a one-line initial is, the next one, a Q, is made to
emanate an air of monumentality in demonstration of Christ’s
magnitude, because God is a great Lord and a great king
(Quoniam deus magnus dominus et rex magnus). Even more
demanding is the next Q , on fol. 15r: here a big blue wave shows
the sea, because it belongs to God (Quoniam ipsius est mare). A
bearded man shows in a letter H that one should hear His voice
(Hodie si vocem eius auditeritis). On fol. 15v an image of Jesus
teaching accompanies the words Quadraginta annis
proximus fui (I had nearly been for 40 years). At the
end of this passage, when we read Gloria patri et filio et spiritui
sancti (Glory to the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit), we see a small assembly of the three persons
who form the Trinity. They are depicted in identical form, with
no visible difference between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in
order to convey the message that all three persons share equally
in glory. We cannot admire all the examples of this pictorial
ingenuity, but we must look at a few more. Initials on the recto
and verso of folio 16 reward our attention. On the recto, illustrating a prayer of the Virgin to her son we see the
sun and the moon as well as the Virgin Mary herself. On the top of the verso Jesus is shown alone, because this
time the Gloria speaks of him as the only offspring
of the Virgin Mary. Further on, on fol. 17r (fig. 3), one
finds an ox and a donkey (oves et boves), a bird (volucres), and, in
a most demanding initial on fol. 17v, the sound that fills all the
earth (in omnem terram exivit sonus eorum). Simpler symbols
await us on fol 18r. On the recto are a book for the Law and a balance for Justice, on the verso merely a mountain of gold. One
would not think that a one-line initial could accommodate
bridges over the sea, rivers or a man climbing up the mountain,
but all three are depicted on fol. 19r, together with completely
different images of prayer and of Jesus, who on fol. 19v is shown
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at the doors of eternity. For unknown reasons, this avalanche of
pictorial motifs suddenly stopped before the completion of fol.
21r, which is a singleton added to the gathering.
As unique as the one-line initials are, they are not the feature
of the Hague Office of the Virgin that makes the greatest
impression. What stops people in their tracks when they look at
the manuscript is the variety of the opening pages of the major
sections of the text: the psalms, hymns, lessons and the socalled absolutio on fol. 20r. These are provided with three-line
initials with more space for pictures such as the miniature of the
believers coming to pray to Jesus Christ at Venite exultemus on
fol. 14v. The Apocalyptic Woman clad in the Sun for Quem terra
pontus ethera (Whom earth and sea and sky adore) on fol. 16r and
Jesus as Domine dominus noster (Oh Lord, our Lord) on fol. 16v,
appear as half-figures. On fol. 17v, Celi ennarrant gloriam dei (The
Heavens praise the Glory of God), is illustrated by naked putti
framing an initial C, with David praying to God in a glooming
red sky. The power of God over the earth and its riches is
expressed by His apparition over landscape and town on fol. 19r
(Domini est terra et plenitudo eius). The Virgin in prayer on fol. 20r
is taken from her guise in the iconography known as Deesis,
Christ between the major intercessors. We therefore see her in
function as intercessor (Precibus et meritis beate Marie virginis –
With the help of the prayers and merits of the blessed Virgin
Mary). This makes a striking difference to her second appearance, on the verso, where she is crowned and once more clad in
the golden sun. This is not the place for a full discussion of the
enormous steps in the development of painting those pages represent. Suffice it to say that they connect a new interest in
hybrid architecture with a revolutionary interest in birds and
animals, their appearance and their behaviour (fig. 3).
All that exuberant decoration is crowned by what may be the
most spectacular opening pages in any of the books in the
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the beginning of Matins (figs. 1-2).
Pagina 22
3. The Hague, kb, ms. 76 F 6, fol. 16v-17r, Isabella Hours: Double page of Matins
with the leopard of the Visconti.
Pagina 23
4. The Hague, kb, ms. 79 K 11, fol. 17v-18r, Bout Psalter-Hours: Annunciation
and Virgin and Child.
Pagina 24
The painter certainly knew the conventions for that incipit in a
Book of Hours, which were the same in Italy as in the Northern
Netherlands: at Matins one should see on the verso the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary (or less frequently the Nativity), in a
spacious full-page miniature. A beautiful example is the Bout
Psalter-Hours, ms. 79 K 11 (fig. 4), a manuscript of the Haarlem
Bible Master and others, with a coat of arms presumably neutralised and an inscription of 1540 telling that the book was still
in Haarlem at this time.15
In the Netherlands as in Italy the incipit on the opposite page
allowed for an image of the Madonna in the initial, as in two
Italian Books of Hours in The Hague. Both incorporate interesting aspects of the international connections in book production at the time: in ms. 133 D 15 the traditional motif of the
Virgin and Child is faced by a full-page Flemish miniature of
the Annunciation. It would seem to have been bought by an
Italian who brought his book to Bruges. There the incipit page,
which was already adorned with an Italian initial, would have
been given its Flemish border. A similar confrontation of north
and south is found in a book from Naples, ms. 135 E 23, which
contains an earlier Delft grisaille16 of the Adoration of the
Christ Child.17
In the Isabella Hours, the scribe – whose work preceded that of the
illuminator – paved the way for his colleague to paint an extraordinary incipit. On the first recto of the gathering he penned a huge
initial I in gold; the incipit was finished, in the form of an angel,
only about 1500. The two well-known addresses to God for the first
hours, Matins – Domine labia mea apperies (Oh Lord, open my lips)
and Deus in adiutorium meum intende (Oh God, come to my assistance) – are on the following verso and recto (figs. 1-2). Both start
with large capitals in exceptional calligraphy and are surrounded
by painting. Instead of a calligraphed initial, the first letter D is
conveyed by God the father in a mandorla of cherubim. The second
initial, on the opposite page, is formed by architectural motifs.
Pagina 25
As if he were out to invent anew the means of illuminating a
Book of Hours, the Milan painter of the Isabella Hours covered
the whole page with his paint (fig. 1). The Temple district where
Gabriel approaches to hail the Virgin Mary is a kind of cloister
on an elegantly diapered gold ground, while the Father, seated in
a glory of angels, sends down the Holy Spirit in the usual guise
of a dove. On the opposite page (fig. 2), the story continues with
the Visitation. As if the painter had read for the first time the
report in Saint Luke’s Gospel telling of the pregnancy of Mary’s
cousin Elisabeth, he paints it with sparkling freshness. After
having been informed that Elisabeth, who was much too old to
bear a child, had miraculously become pregnant, Mary speaks
first with the other virgins in the Temple, then departs to cross
the mountains. She is accompanied by two of the girls and the
elderly Joseph, who always follows in tow, some steps behind.
They mount to a place where Joseph finds fresh spring water
before they reach the edge of a forest. There they are welcomed
by Elisabeth, who comes out of a porch; but this is not yet her
and Zachariah’s home, which can only be reached in a last turn
of that ingenious path. On the page, it leads from bottom left,
passing by the outer border in order to find the way into the
space of the big letter D.
A film-like sequence of this kind, connecting the incidents in
the story step by step, was still nearly unheard of in the years
around 1400, when illuminating a Book of Hours was most usually a mechanical process of putting labels on every Hour. In that
system, the Visitation should have been illustrated at the next
Hour, Lauds. Instead, the artist chose to place it in the initial of
Matins, on fol. 14r. The decision to join the motifs for Matins and
Lauds would have caused grave difficulties in the distribution of
scenes in the rest of the Office. Unfortunately, however, the
sequence stops here, so we do not know what the artist may have
had up his sleeve to solve the problems originating in his creative invention for the start of the unfinished cycle.
Pagina 26
The years around 1400, when the text of the Isabella Hours was
penned and the first steps were taken to illuminate the manuscript, mark a decisive transition in the late medieval Book of
Hours. The main contours of the standards that were to be followed in the coming century were all known by then, but it was
still possible for an individual artist to feel as free as the Milan
painter. Earlier generations had been wrestling with the challenges presented by such books and their illumination. Because
the format developed from the Psalter, the earliest examples
combine the text of the Psalter with elements that were later to
form the Book of Hours as we know it. This mixture reappears
from time to time, as in the Bout manuscript already mentioned, presumably made in 1453 (fig. 4).
The earliest example in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek of such a
Psalter-Hours, ms. 76 G 17, was made in Liège in the second half
of the 13th century. This book takes us back to the question of
what the worshipper had to take into consideration when praying the Office of the Virgin during the day. At the beginning of
the Office is a big initial in which the Virgin and Child, adored
by two angels, are painted as if they were a statuette (fol. 138r).
There being no hint of narration in this historiated initial, it
does not surprise one that it does not open a cycle starting with
the Annunciation and continuing with the Visitation, two
moments when the child was not yet born, or that the other
Hours do not open with scenes from the life of the Virgin, but
with the Passion of Christ, from Betrayal to Entombment.
In itself, this seems perfectly compatible with the function of
the Office as a daily reminder of the paramount importance of
the Passion as the sacrifice of the Saviour for our souls. But we
are also dealing with the Office of the Virgin, and a look at the at
Lauds (fig. 5; fol. 151v) hints at a certain ambivalence in this
regard in the minds of the responsible artists and iconographers.
Without any doubt, this is a depiction of the Betrayal of Christ,
with soldiers in full armour surrounding two persons embracing, Judas and Christ. But even if the halo identifies the figure
Pagina 27
at the right as Jesus Christ, one is left with the sneaking suspicion
that the figures, beardless as they seem to be, were first conceived as the Virgin Mary and Elisabeth at the Visitation.
The Psalter-Hours of Liège are not the only example of an Office
of the Virgin accompanied by scenes from the Passion of Christ.18
An early Book of Hours of Roman use and Flemish origin, ms. 76 G
7, puts an Annunciation at the Matins of the Virgin, but what follows for the rest of the Office of the Virgin is a full Passion cycle,
from Betrayal to Entombment. A second Book of Hours, ms. 135 K
45, answers roughly to the same description. It too is from
Flanders, but some of the pictures, identified by small stamps in
the borders, were made in the Utrecht style of the workshop of
Otto van Moerdrecht of ca. 1430. Here a full Passion cycle starts at
the Matins of the Cross with the Prayer on the Mount of Olives;
then comes, as an interruption of the sequence, the Annunciation
to the Virgin at her Mass. A Madonna opens the Matins of her
Office, but from Lauds the miniatures continue with a Passion
cycle to Compline. A Passion cycle of the same kind was inserted in
a third Book of Hours in the kb, ms. 135 E 36, this time to accompany the Hours of the Cross. The apparent logic behind this move
is that in an earlier campaign the Office of the Virgin had already
been provided with a full cycle of Christ’s childhood.
Both cycles are combined in ms. 76 F 7 (fig. 6), the so-called
Hours of Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry viii of
England (1485-1536). This impressive Bruges manuscript was
indeed destined for the use of England (secundum usum Anglie)
and is known to have been in England even after the Church
Reform carried out by that king.19 The Passion is followed from
the Prayer on the Mount of Olives to the Entombment on fullpage miniatures on inserted leaves, while the Childhood of
Christ, from the Annunciation to the Flight into Egypt, heads the
incipits in square miniatures. Both kinds of pages are framed in
a remarkably traditional, even old-fashioned way one would not
expect in a book illuminated by a pupil of Willem Vrelant before
the master’s death in 1482, perhaps as early as 1460.20 A second
Pagina 28
5. The Hague, kb, ms. 76 G 17, fol. 151v, Psalter-Hours of Liège: Visitation turned
into Betrayal.
Pagina 29
6. The Hague, kb, ms. 76 F 7, fol. 43v-44r, Hours of Catherine of Aragon:
Betrayal and Visitation.
Pagina 30
book for England, explicitly rubricated for the use of Sarum, ms.
131 G 41, leaves out all associations with the Virgin Mary, starting
in Matins with Christ on the Mount of Olives.21
An even more interesting aspect of the Passion in the Office of
the Virgin is explored by one of the most beautiful Books of
Hours of the Northern Netherlands, ms. 133 M 131, with Latin and
vernacular texts. After the Calendar in Dutch follows the Office
of the Virgin in Latin. The manuscript is conceived through and
through as a meditation on the Passion, in an astonishing way.
The artist had to fill two kinds of picture spaces: full-page compositions on inserted leaves and large historiated initials. The fifteen pictures are mostly taken from the Passion, but the Biblical
sequence is not always adhered to: the illuminations start, for
example, with the Betrayal, confronted by the Prayer on the
Mount of Olives, which precedes it, in the initial on the facing
recto. As if Lauds, with a smaller initial, had first been overlooked, it is illuminated on fol. 31r with an image of Christ sitting on the Cold Stone. Christ before the Judges – first Pilate and
then a high priest – is illustrated at Prime (fol. 48v-49r). The
Scourging at the Column follows in proper order (fol. 56v), but
the next initial was used to show not another act of cruelty
against Christ, but Job on the Dung Heap, with his wife talking
to him (fol. 57r).
The suffering of Job in combination with the Passion of Christ
is an example of the iconographic principle known as typology,
in which scenes from the Old Testament are illustrated in tandem with motifs from the New Testament with which they are
considered to correspond. Once it was introduced into ms. 133 M
131, it goes on: the Carrying of the Cross faces Isaac carrying the
wood for the altar on which he was to be sacrificed by his father
Abraham. That line is followed at None, where the Crucifixion is
linked to Isaac’s Sacrifice being stopped by an angel, in a typological pair as old as Christian imagery. At Vespers the principle
is suspended, with the Deposition from the Cross leading to the
Pietà, the Virgin mourning over her dead son. But typology is
Pagina 31
resumed in the last pair of miniatures: the Entombment is
linked to Jonah and the Whale, the initial for Compline.22
The Hours of the Holy Ghost, also in Latin, are put under the
sign of the Trinity, which is depicted in a big historiated initial
at Matins; for the other initials an angel at every Hour was sufficient. But the Passion cycle, which was already displayed fully in
the Office of the Virgin, posed problems when it came to the
Hours of the Cross, which are in Dutch. The illumination starts
at Matins with a picture of Saint Catherine caressing the Lamb
of God held in the arms of John the Baptist and an initial of the
Man of Sorrows. Since Saint Catherine does not really belong at
this spot, we can only assume that she has either been misplaced
or that a particularly sophisticated concept is being employed
the meaning of which escapes us. The rest of the Hours continues with images only of angels. A last full-page miniature from
the Passion, Christ sitting on the Cold Stone, is painted on a leaf
trimmed in a divergent way. It is placed before the Penitential
Psalms, with an opening initial showing the Last Judgement.
The book ends at the Vespers of the Dead with a moving scene of
a man dying and an initial of the souls in Purgatory. The manuscript contains not a single Marian image – the Pietà, which
might be interpreted as such, is part of the Passion cycle.
The cases we have looked into so far, seen as items in the enormous mass of extant manuscripts, are quite exceptional. The way
the illuminations in the Isabella Hours start off made us wonder
how the artist could possibly have continued; and the examples
of the Office of the Virgin, starting with a Marian image but continuing with scenes from the Passion of Christ, may give the
impression that such a disposition was widely accepted. While
the latter solution has a certain logic, since it combines everyday
prayers with the commemoration of Good Friday, it was not often
As we have seen, certain common features were shared by
Latin Books of Hours in Italy and the Northern Netherlands getijdenboek in Dutch. If we leave these groups for what they are, we
Pagina 32
find that from the turn of the 15th century on quite a different
set of pictures proves to be predominant in Books of Hours.
Typical in this regard are the most lavish manuscripts of the
period. An example in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek is Simon
Marmion’s picture cycle in the Trivulzio Hours, ms. smc 1,
acquired in 2001 (fig. 7),23 though we could also name the splendid French Books of Hours from Paris and most other regions.
The core of the sequence is formed by eight iconographies that
are mostly connected with their proper Hour, as if the very sense
of this cycle was to find one’s place in the Office quickly. The
Annunciation opens Matins, the Visitation Lauds; the four short
Hours – Prime, Terce, Sexte and None – went with a Christmas
picture, preferably the Adoration of the Child, followed by the
Annunciation to the Shepherds, the Adoration of the Magi and
the Purification (not the Circumcision); the Flight into Egypt and
the Coronation of the Virgin, later her Assumption to Heaven,
marked Vespers and Compline. Regional traditions came into
play towards the end of the cycle. Flanders and the Southern
Netherlands in general insisted upon the Massacre of the
Innocents, so the Coronation of the Virgin had to be suppressed24
– that is, unless a ninth miniature was added,25 to introduce a
closing text called a bit erroneously the Office of Advent.26
In a number of rare cases the major line was not followed in
manuscripts from Paris, the French regions or the Southern
Netherlands. This will have been due to one of two reasons: either
simple mistakes, which one finds in books of minor quality,27 or
sophisticated interventions emerging from the relation between
an outstanding artist and an important patron. Jan Tavernier was
certainly not falling into error when he changed the position in
the Hours of Philip the Good, ms. 76 F 2 (fig. 8), of the lovely
Annunciation to the Shepherds (fol. 136r). By linking it to Prime,
the stage was set to place the Adoration of the Christ Child at
Terce, with the Shepherds arriving at the shed of Bethlehem (fol.
139r). The Presentation in the Temple (fol. 141v) precedes the
Adoration of the Magi (fol. 143v). This disposition may contradict
Pagina 33
the Calendar, with Epiphany falling on January 6th and Purification on February 2nd, but it solves another problem.
According to legend, the Magi visited King Herod before they
came to Bethlehem, making them in a way instrumental for the
Massacre of the Innocents and therefore the Flight into Egypt.
Because there was no time to go to the Temple between the Adoration and the Flight, Tavernier’s cycle for the duke is more logical
than the traditional picture sequence in Books of Hours.
Tavernier’s attempt to create a more logical sequence of pictures in the Office of the Virgin stood in contrast to a truly
medieval conception of such a prayer book. To modern eyes it
was long inconceivable that even a Renaissance artist of the mid15th century like Jean Fouquet of Tours was bound by convention. In his greatest masterpiece, the Hours of Étienne Chevalier,
which has been dismantled and is conserved only in single
leaves,28 Fouquet was obliged to respect a system that kept him
from giving free rein to his artistic genius to create a logical
sequence of miniatures. In the context of the book, the Office of
the Virgin, with its impressive evocation of Christ’s Childhood
and the Death of the Virgin, was continuously interrupted by
scenes of the Passion and the Work of the Holy Spirit.
The Hague does not own a comparably rich manuscript in
Fouquet’s style; but there are examples here as well in which pictorial narrative had to be sacrificed to the convenience of easily
finding the texts that were recited hour by hour. The most beautiful one in The Hague originates from Fouquet’s workshop: ms.
74 G 28 is only a fragment of a much thicker volume, but it is a
most telling one.29 The beginning of the Office of the Virgin is
not preserved, but we still have the transit from Lauds to
Vespers. At that juncture Christ’s Childhood is interrupted
between the Visitation at Lauds and the Nativity at Prime by four
miniatures introducing different sets of Hours: a Crucifixion for
the Holy Cross, Pentecost for the Holy Spirit, a Throne of Grace
for the Trinity, and Saint Catherine for the Hours devoted to her
(fig. 9). The function of these four pictures is to make clear that
Pagina 34
7. The Hague, kb, ms. smc 1, fol. 205v, Trivulzio Hours: Annunciation to the
Next page: 8. The Hague, kb, ms. 76 F 2, fol. 136v and 139r (details), Hours of
Philip the Good: Annunciation to the Shepherds and Nativity.
Pagina 35
Pagina 36
at the end of every Hour in the Office of the Virgin to come there
will be texts on the Cross, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity and
With astonishing artistic quality, these four pictures open
impressive views, each in a different direction. The panorama of
the Crucifixion (fig. 9), taking place in the dark of an eclipse as
described in the Gospels, shows all the greatness of Fouquet’s art
as inspired by the Early Italian Renaissance. This makes me
doubt whether it is really by the same follower as the other
miniatures. The three following pictures give witness to a less
ambiguous art; they seem to be freer and younger than the great
Calvary. In a convincing interior, the Apostles assemble around
the Virgin Mary for Pentecost. The Throne of Grace shows the
Divine Majesty in blinding light. Finally, an elegant figure represents the princess Catherine of Alexandria, before narrative
returns at the Prime of the Virgin with the Adoration of the
Christ Child (fig. 9). The way the artists rethink every aspect of
their task brings the reader and beholder face to face at every
picture with a different realm: the innumerable figures in the
narrative Crucifixion; the intimacy of the assembly of those left
behind by the Saviour; the revelatory apparition of the Trinity;
and the monumental regality of the famous female saint.
Illumination that directs the beholder into such different
directions was mostly opposed to narrative. That tendency
explains why Books of Hours that serve at one and the same time
as a picture book of the Salvation and the history of Jesus and his
Mother Mary are so rare.30 The Koninklijke Bibliotheek enjoys
the long-term loan of one important early example of that kind:
ms. 79 K 2, a fragment of a small Book of Hours in Dutch (reproduced in a facsimile of 1999, with a binding designed by Irma
Boom, Amsterdam)31 which may seem to contradict everything I
have said until now. The book contains a full cycle of the life of
Christ in particularly beautiful miniatures by the Master of
Zweder van Culemborg. Opening as it does with an Office of the
Holy Spirit which goes without Lauds, its pictures could easily
Pagina 37
9. The Hague, kb, ms. 74 G 28, fol. 47v, 49r, 50v, 53v, Hours from Tours:
Crucifixion, Pentecost, Throne of Grace and Nativity.
Pagina 38
mislead one to take it for an abridged Office of the Virgin. The
full-page miniatures in front of the incipits are all followed by
an initial with subjects often arrayed in an unusual sequence. So
one finds the Annunciation and the Wedding of Mary at Matins,
followed at Prime, by Joseph being stopped by an angel when he
tries to slink off; this might have been preceded by a Visitation
now missing. Terce has two Christmas scenes; Sext places the
Adoration of the Magi on the best location, the full-page miniature, preceding the Presentation in the Temple; at None, there
might have been a missing Massacre of the Innocents; the initial
shows the Flight into Egypt. The subject of the full-page miniatures for Vespers is a matter of mere speculation, since the historiated initial with the adult Jesus as a priest at a Christian altar
departs from every tradition; a conceivable match could have
been the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. Once more, at
Compline, an inserted picture seems to be missing, raising the
question of whether there was really an inserted leaf with a
miniature at every Hour; the initial shows the Temptation of
Christ by Satan, which does not strike one as the most suitable
motif for the end of a cycle of that importance.
Text and pictures had to work together in order to cover the
next steps in the story. Three pictures are found on the verso
pages of leaves on which the recto bears the end of a text. (One
may have been on an inserted leaf.) Four texts taken from a Life
of Christ were needed to continue the story: the Raising of
Lazarus, the Entrance into Jerusalem, the Last Supper and the
Prayer on the Mount of Olives, which lost its painting. Apparently, the full-page miniatures satisfied the need for illumination; the five-line initials are not historiated.
The Hours of the Holy Cross follow, with full-page paintings
on the leaves used for the end of the preceding texts and pictures
in the initials. As in ms. 133 M 131, the painters had the choice
between inventing additional scenes or going back to the Old
Testament with typological episodes. That device is employed
only once, with Isaac’s Sacrifice facing the Crucifixion, here tak-
Pagina 39
ing place in front of an altar with a retable. Once more, the initial for Vespers shows the Pietà following a full-page miniature
of the Deposition. The end of the Hours of the Cross must have
been introduced by an Entombment; the angel attending this
iconography is still present in the initial.
To end the picture series of the story of Salvation, excerpts
from a Life of Christ were once more needed: on the Descent into
Limbo, the Resurrection (which has lost its picture along with
the last lines of the preceding text) and the Ascension. The last
picture of this sequence being a representation of Pentecost,
there should have been one more meditation, but that is missing.32 At this point, the sequence stops; a series of saints serves
to round off this remarkable book.
In a much simpler way, without any meditations on single
events that were not included in the program of Offices and
Hours, the workshop of the Masters of the Dark Eyes, at the turn
of the 16th century, placed in ms. 135 E 45 the Office of the Virgin
up front, arriving at a comparable result by putting the Hours of
the Cross and those of the Holy Spirit next. As Childhood and
Passion are represented by miniatures at every single Hour, the
events seem to form a chronological series of the life of Christ,
from the Massacre of the Innocents through to the Betrayal,
ending with Pentecost and, at the beginning of the Penitential
Psalms, the Last Judgement. Only the Raising of Lazarus, used
for the Vespers of the Dead in the very last miniature of the manuscript, could not be put at its proper place in the chronology.33
Historiography lives on differences, on the distance between the
standard and the exceptional; as a result, it grants little space to
objects that are exactly as they should be. Nevertheless, it would
be a pity not to seize on this occasion to take a leisurely look at
some outstanding paintings of that traditional cycle, so dear to
many generations of believers. The Book of Hours, like other traditional formats, provided our culture with a framework for creating objects similar enough to invite studied comparison,
Pagina 40
while giving enormous pleasure to beholders sufficiently
patient to examine the different ways they were treated at different periods of time, regions, and especially artists.
The Hague disposes of Parisian Books of Hours34 that help us
to understand the aims of the artists in the very capital of illumination. Ms. 74 F 1, a work by an anonymous painter called the
Master of Jean Rolin, allows a splendid view of the achievements
of mid-15th century art thriving on a local tradition while delving into the possibilities of the ars nova inspired by early
Netherlandish painting (fig. 10). A completely different aspect is
to be seen in a book for the use of Besançon, ms. 76 F 12, illuminated by a painter called the Master of the Vienna Roman de la
Rose (fig. 11). Scholars locate it in Lyons, but it is also connected
with the Franche Comté as well as with Bourges. Examples of the
variety in text, layout and miniatures possible in Books of Hours
from different regions around 1450 are ms. 76 G 11, with an interesting French prayer of Arnoul, perhaps from Metz, and the
Savoyard Hours, ms. 76 G 14.
The artistic variety in the collection makes us understand why
in modern times the Book of Hours has attracted the particular
interest of the art lover and art historian. The inclination to
appreciate Books of Hours as art rather than as books is strengthened by the fact that great painters like Jean Fouquet have been
involved in their illumination. Leaving aside the difficult questions raised by ms. 74 G 28, already mentioned (fig. 9), the
Koninklijke Bibliotheek is proud to own one of the master’s most
touching miniatures (fig. 12). Previously the miniature concerned was disregarded as a merely pleasant workshop production, but now it is accepted as an autograph creation by Fouquet
himself. It is to be found in one of the volumes of the Hours of
Simon de Varie, a manuscript cut into three pieces for Philippe de
Béthune (1566-1649). Two parts are in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, ms. 74 G 37 and ms. 74 G 37a, while the third one, recently
discovered, has been acquired by the Getty Museum in Los
Angeles (ms. 7).35 The original Book of Hours was made in Paris
Pagina 41
about 1440/50 in the leading workshop of its time, by an artist of
the Bedford style called the Dunois Master, probably to be identified as Jean Haincelin; he may have inherited the atelier of
Haincelin de Haguenau, better known as the Bedford Master.36
The painter, as well as his younger collaborator on the Hours of
Simon de Varie, the Master of Jean Rolin, had to paint in semi-grisaille, a technique in which figures are pale apparitions clad in
white and landscapes emerge dimly, while interiors are painted
in full colour (fig. 12).
The contrast to the art of Jean Fouquet could not be greater;
the difference is most blatant in the opening with the Virgin and
Child, monumental despite the tiny format of the book, on the
verso, and Saint Peter’s attempt to walk on water by Jean
Haincelin on the opposite recto. The Parisian master represents
former times, while the young painter of Tours announces a
completely different aesthetics, in large part derived from his
trip to Italy before 1448. The contrast seems to have been particularly jarring at the moment when the manuscript passed from
an unknown first owner into the hands of Simon de Varie, a
courtier of Charles vii, whose portrait is contained in the Getty
fragment of the book.
The confrontation of the old and the new is not restricted to
the places in the book where a Fouquet painting on an inserted
leaf faces a Dunois miniature (fig. 12). The heads and as the
Annunciation in ms. 74 G 37 (fig. 13) shows, also some draperies
were partly overpainted in order to add weight to the figures and
volume to the heads; in addition, more colour was put into some
of the pictures. But not every miniature was retouched, as is
shown by the two representations of the Virgin and Child in the
Marian prayers. The Dunois style has been perfectly retained in
the miniature for O intemerata on fol. 17v of the same Hague volume (fig. 13), while the one for Obsecro te (fol. 12r) has been
Besides the prayer mentioned and the David for the Penitential
Psalms (and leaving the Flight into Egypt in the Getty volume out
Pagina 42
10. The Hague, kb, ms. 74 F 1, fol.
53r, Hours for the use of Paris:
11. The Hague, kb, ms. 76 F 12, fol.
32v, Hours for the use of Besançon:
Next page:
12. The Hague, kb, ms. 74 G 37a,
fol. 1v-2r, Hours of Simon de Varie:
Fouquet’s Virgin and Child, and
Calling of St. Peter by the
Dunois Master.
13. The Hague, kb, ms. 74 G 37,
fol. 17v, 25r, Hours of Simon de
Varie: Virgin and Child by the
Dunois Master, Annunciation
retouched by Fouquet.
Pagina 43
Pagina 44
of consideration), the retouching is confined nearly entirely to the
Office of the Virgin. It is further concentrated on two protagonists,37 the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child. There are no signs of
reworking in the miniatures of Elisabeth in the Visitation at Lauds
or Joseph in the Christmas picture at Prime, nor even in Jesus
crowning the Virgin. The most important effect of the interventions is to bring the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child closer to the
beholder. This is done in two different ways: remodelling these two
protagonists as if they stood out from the surrounding space and
endowing them with a more corporeal, lively and three-dimensional appearance.
This important step in the development of art as it manifested
itself in the work of two important artists of two different generations was visible to people of the period. Worshippers who
used the book and looked at the pictures will have experienced
the tactile difference between the protagonists, in their greater
proximity, and the rest of the setting, including figures of lesser
importance, landscape and interiors. That an artist like Jean
Fouquet was aware of the generational break is shown in one
significant instance: the Master of Jean Rolin, a contemporary of
Fouquet’s who had grown up in the Paris atelier of the Dunois
Master, had painted a miniature in the Hours of Simon de Varie
that needed retouching in order to correct the heraldic bearings
on the coat of arms of a kneeling knight in prayer to the Virgin.
Fouquet could have carried out the same kind of remodelling
that he executed elsewhere in the manuscript. But – in this case
at least, but not in others38 – Fouquet left the faces of the Virgin,
Child and donor as they were painted by a master of his own
Such poignant moments in the history of art may make us forget that in Books of Hours art and spirituality go hand in hand
only up to a certain point. Illumination was certainly welcome
as a handy key to identify the various texts; it was also a means
of respecting one’s own prayer book; a volume nicely written,
decorated with outstanding calligraphy and glittering with gold
Pagina 45
and colours was a compliment to the values embodied in the
book. The effort put into its decoration, the monetary worth of
the materials used, the hours of work spent on ultra-refined calligraphy and painting, could have easily been interpreted as
ways to praise God and the Virgin Mary.
While considerations of this kind could help a donor to overcome the demands of modesty, they could not quell criticism of
the exuberant use of gold and colours that makes some books
unconscionably rich. If one takes into account the wealth of the
first gathering of the Office of the Virgin in the Isabella Hours
and tries to imagine how a complete volume produced to those
standards would look, one understands why no such book is to
be found anywhere.40
In the course of the 15th century artists south and north of the
Alps discovered such effective means to represent man and
nature that at the turn of the 16th century everything seemed to
have become possible. Art and artists from all over Europe had
met in the big merchant towns and at the courts of generous
princes. Splendid collections came into being, foremost among
them that of Margaret of Austria, a Habsburg princess, widow
of the duke of Savoy and governor of the Burgundian states. In
Mechelen she brought together books and paintings less for
their princely pedigree than their artistic authenticity. It would
surprise no one that she owned the Très Riches Heures du duc de
Berry, but who but she would match it with Jan van Eyck’s
Arnolfini portrait, believed to show a silk merchant and his wife
(and not a self-portrait of the artist).41
The splendour of art became a value in itself; even in the
Northern Netherlands Books of Hours were produced that seem
like demonstrations of the highest achievements available to
illuminators of that age. Such a creation is the Adair Hours,
which came to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek as ms. bph 131 with a
group of important manuscripts from the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam (fig. 14).42 This Latin Book of
Hours from the Northern Netherlands, structured in conven-
Pagina 46
tional form, is probably the most extraordinary example of its
kind from the last decades of the 15th century. In the best Dutch
tradition only a few pictures are inserted; one sole miniature, of
the Annunciation, is sufficient for the whole Office of the
Virgin. The importance accorded to double pages at the major
openings is symptomatic of a different approach than that
adopted in France. The richness of the acanthus and twigs of
plants and flowers and the vividness of the insects inhabiting
the borders compare favourably with Flemish trompe-l’œil borders and achievements yet to be attained in the Northern
Netherlands by the Masters of the Dark Eyes. The immense format of the initials is reminiscent both of Italian and Northern
Netherlandish traditions, but they are not historiated as one
would expect. Instead, colour is given a power of its own; the
painter released an overwhelming force taken neither from
nature nor spirituality, but from the art of painting itself. It is
one of the delectable paradoxes of art history that such an
incredible work turned up nowhere else but in the Northern
Netherlands, the country with the strongest trend to modesty.
This occurred at the eve of the 16th century, an era that was to
produce the spiritual turmoil that led to the abandonment of the
very idea of the Book of Hours, illuminated or not.
In contrast to the ever-increasing artistic possibilities of the
period, the suppression of this centuries-old tradition signalled
not only the end of the Book of Hours but of manuscript illumination in general. Lavish miniatures in gold and precious pigments ceded their place to simpler methods of illustrating and
structuring books. Printed vignettes and pictures soon eclipsed
methods of work like the application of gold.
Even if not every copy was individually conceived, the many
variables involved give one the impression that all manuscript
Books of Hours reflect the result of negotiations between the
people involved. Unfortunately, not a single explicit contract for
a commission has survived. The texts and images would have
been ordered with reference to existing exemplars. One can
Pagina 47
imagine how the talks must have gone. One or more books
would be at hand: an heirloom brought in by the client, or –
probably more often – copies of texts and pictures the scribes
and illuminators were able to show. The aim of the discussion
would be to convert the vague wishes of the buyer into concrete
specifications for a professional commission. Initial vagueness
was inevitable, because few clients would be able to imagine
something completely new. Therefore, most of the books we
have looked at follow traditions respected by clients, scribes and
artists alike, even if some of them may have overcome convention in one aspect or another.
That a certain mass production was already aimed at in the
age of the manuscript can be surmised by the early history of the
printed book. The invention of printing with moveable type
would never have been such a groundbreaking success if users
of books expected every book to be an individual object different
from everything else in its class. For the Book of Hours, the
development of printing in the decades around 1500 led to a radical change. An avalanche of printed copies appeared, mostly
published in Paris for the extensive territories where the Latin
and French types of such books were marketable. Therefore, the
swan song of the Book of Hours witnessed an interesting division. Over and against the mass production in Paris of printed
Books of Hours – books that despite their mechanical means of
production nevertheless displayed various kinds of refinement
in illumination and binding43 – an infinitesimally small number
of books was still produced by hand and painted by the very last
Among the late Books of Hours in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek
is one of the most outstanding examples in the world, the Hours
of Jean Lallemant le Jeune. Ms. 74 G 38 (fig. 15), with its very unusual relation between reader, text and pictures, brings us back to
the question of what the function of such prayer books actually
was. The book starts with an astonishing, even aggressive
heraldic page, showing a red lion with the coat of arms of Jean
Pagina 48
14. The Hague, kb, ms. bph 131, fol. 46v-47r, Adair Hours: Crucifixion and
beginning of the Hours of the Cross.
Next page: 15. The Hague, kb, ms. 74 G 38, fol. 8v, 38r, 52v, 75r, Lallemant Hours:
Annunciation, Nativity, Presentation in the Temple, Pentecost.
Pagina 49
Pagina 50
Lallemant le Jeune and a quotation from Psalm 115 saying that
God has broken the chains of the speaker, and that His name
therefore will be praised. This must be understood as a direct
reference to a most decisive moment in the life of the patron.
Jean Lallemant had been the mayor of Bourges and an influential courtier of the king until in 1535 he was suddenly stripped of
all his offices and had his goods seized. He was imprisoned for
two years but was released in 1537 and allowed to continue a
comparably successful career. The book must therefore date
from after his liberation. In addition to the quotation from
Psalms, another allusion to his release may be found in the cut
knot of a Franciscan rope in the background and the border.44
Our present subject is however not the grim red lion but the
astonishing conception behind the twelve other full-page miniatures in this manuscript (fig. 15). The Hours of Jean Lallemant le
Jeune is reduced to five basic texts: the Office of the Virgin, the
Penitential Psalms, the Hours of the Holy Cross and the Holy
Spirit and the Office of the Dead. There are no borders, one indication that the ingenious artist was stylistically connected with
what is called the 1520s Hours Workshop. There may even be
grounds to attribute the illumination to the recently identified
painter Noël Bellemare. In any case, we find the illuminator of
ms. 74 G 38 toying with the idea of reproducing small panel paintings on the white vellum, with no more marginal decoration
than the Franciscan knot cut through. Borders like those in the
Adair Hours (fig. 14) served as a threshold between the world of the
reader or beholder and the distant realm of Salvation. The tangible still-life objects in the borders were put there because they
were allowed to be touched by the hands turning the pages. They
belonged more to the everyday reality of the owner of the book
than to the sacred sphere in the pictures, which were objects of
The Hours of Jean Lallemant le Jeune in The Hague (fig. 15) is just
one of four enigmatic manuscripts produced for this astonishing patron. In it, we encounter a completely novel intermediary
Pagina 51
between the beholder and the subject of the pictures. Twelve
times the same person reappears, a bearded man who could well
be mistaken for the very subject of the pictures. But he is not
that; rather, he functions as the ‘beholder in the picture’, a
device to show us through his reactions how astonishing, rewarding or appalling are the actual subjects of the miniatures.
The artist is apparently confident that the user of the book will
know what to expect at the different hours of the Virgin, the
Psalms or the Vespers of the Dead; but he offers supplementary
hints about the nature of the mysteries of Salvation. The quality
of the pictures being made in connection with standard knowledge of individual Christian prayer was so high that the motifs
could be minimised to an astounding degree, transforming
them into mysteries that can hardly be seen.
The way the eight scenes for the Office of the Virgin are treated restores to them the character of unseen and unheard events
(fig. 15). The angel of the Annunciation suddenly regains his
celestial identity, after a century of earthly reality; for the
Visitation the Virgin really descends a mountain; the Nativity
takes place in the darkest night, with the shepherds included.
The artist, aware of the lack of logic in the sequence from Prime
to Terce, which shows the Nativity and the Annunciation to the
Shepherds in two steps, repeats the shepherds’ scene in the full
light of morning. The Adoration of the Magi is displayed lavishly in the middle ground of the painting, while the mysterious
beholder enters a Gothic church to watch the Presentation in the
Temple taking place behind the Renaissance choir screen. On its
Flight into Egypt the Holy Family nearly trespasses the borders
of the picture frame. Instead of a common Coronation of the
Virgin, we are shown a masterly visualisation of her Assumption, seen through a rocky arch that allows us to see the Apostles
witnessing the miracle on earth while the Virgin is taken up by
angels to the sky. The same philosophy is applied in the rest of
the picture cycle; the strongest reactions are reserved for the
Crucifixion, Pentecost (fig. 15) and the Souls in Purgatory.
Pagina 52
The bearded man, in a period when people were happy to wear
long beards, has been identified as Jean Lallemant le Jeune himself.45 This is certainly right insofar as virtual identification is
concerned: the patron must have felt like the beholder in his pictures. The identification is discussed in the literature with special reference to the facts that the patron saint of Jean Lallemant
was John the Baptist, and that one of his devices was the book of
Revelation attributed to John the Evangelist. In a fashion all too
typical for art history, the garb worn by the beholder in this and
other Books of Hours made for the same patron is described on
more than one occasion, in connection with the supposed
iconography of John the Baptist, as a ‘hair shirt’.46 In fact this garment has nothing to do with what Saint John the Baptist wears in
legend and pictures. The Baptist should be dressed in camel’s fur,
not in a shirt knotted out of reed or – and this is perhaps the better description – a tunic of plated palm fronds. This piece of
clothing is associated in the Golden Legend with Saint Paul the
Hermit and Saint Anthony Abbot.47 Painters and illuminators of
the late 15th and early 16th century certainly dressed hermits in
such a garment; it became nearly a secondary attribute of Saint
Jerome in miniatures from Simon Marmion to Simon Bening.
If one imagines the Hague book in the hands of the Bourges
patron who had the astonishing inspiration to have it made for
his use after being freed from prison, one senses that the mysterious hermit who watches the mysteries of redemption is not to
be understood as Jean Lallemant le Jeune in person, but so to
speak as an intermediary between him and the pictured realm
evoked by the sequence of a common Book of Hours. The primary association of the hermit in the palm or reed shirt is Saint
Jerome, the most admired translator of the Bible and therefore
the one who allowed later generations to understand the mysteries of Salvation. He is shown in penitence like Saint John the
Baptist, and as a hermit like Saint Paul the First Hermit, but also
with overtones of Job, the man in misery who never gave up his
belief in God.
Pagina 53
16. The Hague, kb, ms. 76 F 2, fol. 299r, Hours of Philip the Good: Duke Philip
praying to the Virgin Mary.
Pagina 54
This last example in the rich collection in The Hague brings us
to the point at which we understand that Books of Hours developed in their final stage into vital implements to help worshippers reflect on the hidden meaning of the Office of the Virgin.
That was achieved by the spiritually inspired Jean Lallemant le
Jeune, who had at least four manuscripts of rare invention, and
no doubt by other contemporaries of his. The hidden meaning
was revealed in a picture cycle shown to the user of ms. 74 G 38
by the mysterious figure of a hermit. One’s instinct is to see the
figure as Lallemant himself, but in fact that is not so. The mystery man in his palm or reed shirt was not the predecessor of
Christ who was Lallemant’s patron saint, but the knowledgeable
hermit Saint Jerome, who as a Church Father had translated the
Bible. To understand the mysteries one needed to break with the
world, as Paul the First Hermit had done; to keep one’s faith one
had to stay as loyal to God as Job. His The Hague manuscript
enabled Jean Lallemant to look over the shoulders of the greatest
models any believer could have. This is the spiritual understanding he could acquire when turning the pages of his most
spectacular Book of Hours.
What better proof than this do we require that Books of Hours
were close to the heart of their period? And when we look back
to the 15th century, we see what an important shift had taken
place. Ambitious patrons like Philip the Good of Burgundy
expected the Virgin to grant him an audience by coming to his
own palace to be venerated (fig. 16). Jean Lallemant – or rather
his intermediary – had to become a hermit and search for the
stories of Salvation in the distant wilderness, or at least behind
a choir rood (fig. 15). In a strange paradox, typical for the centuries to come, the wild world outside castle and town became
the place where the Christian worshipper looked for the inner
world of his soul. By the grace of God he might arrive at a deeper understanding than those who had pictures of the mysteries
before their eyes.
Pagina 55
This publication came into being upon the initiative of the Netherlands Institute for
Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) in Wassenaar and the
Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), National Library of the Netherlands in The Hague. I am
deeply indebted to Anne Korteweg and Ed van der Vlist, who encouraged me and gave
me the benefit of their great knowledge by reading my text and correcting more mistakes than I would like to admit. Substantial help came from Elisabeth Antoine,
Christine Seidel and Tanja Westermann. Gary Schwartz reworked the English text
admirably. Of the many others who paved the way to print of this little book I name
only Anouk Janssen and Ellen van Oers of the KB and Petry Kievit and Jos Hooghuis of
NIAS. I wish to thank them not only for their material aid, but also for creating an
atmosphere in which it was so pleasant to work.
The best text on Books of Hours is still the introduction to Abbé Victor
Leroquais, Les livres d’heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale, Paris 1927; see
also my book (with Gabriele Bartz), Das Stundenbuch. Perlen der Buchkunst. Die
Gattung in Handschriften der Vaticana, Stuttgart and Zürich 1998.
One example is found in a manuscript from Hainaut in the Koninklijke
Bibliotheek in The Hague (ms. 76 F 16, fol. 32r), where the devotion to the
Conception of the Virgin is inserted into the Office of the Virgin, with a touching representation of her mother Anne in grisaille.
The most important are the famous Hours of Catherine of Cleves, cf.: Das
Stundenbuch der Katharina von Kleve. MS M. 917 und MS M. 945. The Pierpont Morgan
Library, New York. Commentary by Rob Dückers, Eberhard König, Anne Korteweg,
James H. Marrow, William M. Voelkle and Roger S. Wieck, Lucerne 2009.
One should not forget that generalisations of that kind cannot exclude completely different cases. For example, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek owns a strange book,
ms. 135 G 10 from the Southern Netherlands, with a Calendar in Dutch, and a division of the vernacular and the Latin between the Hours of the Cross, accompanied
by a Passion cycle, and the Office of the Virgin with Christ’s Childhood.
An interesting exception consists in explanations of every Hour in the Office of
the Virgin included in the Paris Book of Hours in London, Add. ms. 18192, with
miniatures by the Master of the Munich Golden Legend (Conrad of Toul?).
A good example for this is ms. 133 E 11 in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, a Book of
Hours probably from Florence and not from Milan, as Byvanck believed (A.W.
Byvanck, ‘Les principaux manuscrits à peintures conservés dans les collections
publiques du Royaume des Pays-Bas’, Bulletin de la Société française de Reproductions
Pagina 56
de Manuscrits à Peintures 15 [1931], p. 48). Unfortunately, it is robbed of its major
incipits, but it retains its perfect series of anonymous male and female saints in
the Office of the Virgin.
Regina Cermann has not yet published her Berlin dissertation on the origins of
the Book of Hours and its relations to Germany.
J.P.J. Brandhorst and K.H. Broekhuijsen-Kruijer, De verluchte handschriften en
incunabelen van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Een overzicht voorzien van een iconografische index, The Hague 1985.
Schatten van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Acht eeuwen verluchte handschriften, The
Hague 1980 (together with Claudine A. Chavannes-Mazel); Liturgische handschriften
uit de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Middeleeuwse manuscripten voor religieus gebruik, The
Hague 1983; Boeken van Oranje-Nassau. De bibliotheek van de graven van Nassau en
prinsen van Oranje in de vijftiende en zestiende eeuw, The Hague 1998; Praal, ernst &
emotie. De wereld van het Franse middeleeuwse handschrift, Zwolle and The Hague
2002 (with the assistance of Klara H. Broekhuijsen and others). H.C. Wüstefeld and
A.S. Korteweg, Sleutel tot licht. Getijdenboeken in de Bibliotheca Philosophica
Hermetica, Amsterdam 2009. Not to forget Anne Korteweg’s part in the exhibition
catalogue The Golden Age of Dutch manuscript painting, Utrecht and New York 1989.
A bibliography of Anne Korteweg was compiled by Ed van der Vlist in
Manuscripten en miniaturen. Studies aangeboden aan Anne S. Korteweg bij haar afscheid
van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek, ed. by Jos Biemans et al., Zutphen 2007, p. 13-20.
10 The manuscripts in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek are described in the online catalogue accessible via homepage www.kb.nl; more than ten thousand images of
medieval illuminated manuscripts are available on the website ‘Middeleeuwse
verluchte handschriften’ (www.kb.nl/manuscripts).
11 Ed van der Vlist, Schitterende schatten. Verluchte handschriften in de Koninklijke
Bibliotheek, Amersfoort and Bruges 2011.
12 Catalogus partis Bibliothecae illustrissimi Comitis de Wassenaer, et Obdam publice
pluris licitantibus distribuendae, The Hague 1750, no. 780, p. 59.
13 Up to and including ‘Schöne Isabella von Kastilien’ by the German singers of the
1920s and ’30s called ‘The Comedian Harmonists’.
14 The illumination discussed here was always attributed to the Master of the
Modena Hours; Ulrike Jenni has pointed out the French connection of the second campaign; the Spanish history of the manuscript has not been discussed
thoroughly. See among the vast literature: Ulrike Jenni, ‘Eine illustrierte
Legenda maior der Katharina von Siena kurz vor 1400. Ergänzungen zum Oeuvre
des Meisters des Modena-Gebetbuchs’, Codices Manuscripti 3 (1977), p. 72-82;
Francesca Manzari, ‘“Cum picturis ystoriatum”. Struttura e programmi icono-
Pagina 57
grafici di tre libri d’ore Lombardi’, Bolletino d’Arte 84-85 (1994), p. 29-70, esp. p.
40-46 and 63-67.
15 James H. Marrow, ‘The Bout Psalter-Hours Dated 1453’, Quaerendo 39 (2009) 3-4
(in Honour of Anne S. Korteweg), p. 328-361; the observation on the provenance
is by Ed van der Vlist.
16 One of the most spectacular manuscripts with such grisaille miniatures is ms. 74
G 35 in The Hague.
17 In the collection of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek there is another example of a Book
of Hours with miniatures pasted in: ms. 77 L 45, a Latin volume of the early 15th
century, already in a very small format; inserted are tiny miniatures painted on
very slim leaves, pasted on leaves which were then adorned with borders of a kind
similar to the rest of the volume. The infinitely fine pictures of the most reduced
format and the very beautiful initials in the text block come from the same
region, but certainly not from the same workshop.
18 See: Frank Olaf Büttner, ‘Komposite Programme der Stundenbuchillustration in
den südlichen Niederlanden bis 1480’, in: Miscellanea Neerlandica. Opstellen voor
Jan Deschamps ter gelegenheid van zijn zeventigste verjaardag, ed. by Elly CockxIndestege and Frans Hendrickx, Leuven 1987, p. 311-341.
19 Devotions to Thomas of Canterbury (picture on fol. 20v and two suffrages on
fols. 21r and 55r) have been crossed out; an inscription on the second flyleaf,
deleted in an ugly way and interpreted by B. Lynch, Abbess of the Irish
Benedictine Dames at Ypres, January 18th, 1823, as the signature of Catherine
looks like inscriptions we know from English owners.
20 The book is bound in an old binding with blind stamped calf, and with a silver
clasp containing a miniature of the Virgin in a Rose Garden.
21 As far as one can read in the literature, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek does not
count a single Book of Hours from England among its treasures: the two manuscripts for the use of Sarum, ms. 76 F 7 and ms. 131 G 41, are located in Bruges,
and are not attributed to an artist from Bruges in England; this may nevertheless
apply to ms. 76 F 7; and ms. 131 G 41 has a number of initials more likely to have
been executed on the island, and not in Flanders. An interesting question is how
far English customs took over in the Netherlands. A Book of Hours for Roman
use, ms. 76 G 22, with miniatures equally in a Bruges style, has the same disposition of suffrages at the beginning of the text, but the fact that Netherlandish
rubrics in the Matins of the Virgin indicating the days when the groups of
psalms should be recited in Latin and then improved in Flemish proves a continental destination for the book.
22 There are more examples of typology every now and then in Books of Hours; that
Pagina 58
could lead to artistic paradoxes, as in an example where Pentecost is depicted
with relatively large figures in full-page miniatures while the Tower of Babel
with people working there has to be fitted into a historiated initial in the late
Dutch Book of Hours ms. 133 H 30, fol. 107r.
23 See Anne S. Korteweg, ‘Het Trivulzio-getijdenboek in de Koninklijke Bibliotheek’, Kunstschrift 46 (2002) 6, p. 6-13; Illuminating the Renaissance. The triumph of
Flemish manuscript painting in Europe, ed. by Thomas Kren and Scot McKendrick,
Los Angeles and London 2003, no. 17, p. 132-134.
24 Cf. mss. 76 F 15, 76 F 16, 76 F 30, 76 G 4 and 134 C 47.
25 Cf. mss. 77 L 60, 76 G 22, 128 G 31, 128 G 32 (the miniature of Vespers missing) and
133 D 18 (with at least a historiated initial of the Coronation).
26 In general, it starts with some alternatives to be recited during Advent, but continues through the whole year.
27 Cf. the Flight following the Coronation in ms. 76 F 25, and the Presentation following the Flight in ms. 76 G 4 and certainly in ms. 128 G 32, where the Presentation opens Compline and the picture for Vespers has been removed.
28 Chantilly, Musée Condé; London, British Library; New York, Metropolitan
Museum; Paris, Louvre and Musée Marmottan; Upton House, Bearsted Collection, and private collection in Belgium: cf. my review of Das Stundenbuch des
Étienne Chevalier, Musée Condé, Chantilly, Vorwort von Charles Sterling, Einleitung und Bildlegenden von Claude Schaefer, München, Wien, Zürich 1971, in:
Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 36 (1974), p. 164-179; François Avril, Jean Fouquet,
peintre et enlumineur du XVe siècle; catalogue de l’exposition, Paris 2003, p. 193-217;
Nicole Reynaud, Les Heures d’Étienne Chevalier, Dijon 2006.
29 See Korteweg, Praal, ernst & emotie, 2002, no. 73, and François Avril, Jean Fouquet,
exhibition cat. Paris 2003, no. 36.
30 A beautiful example, but once more just a fragment, is provided by the Hours of
Marguerite d’Orléans, Paris, BnF, latin ms. 1156B (see my book: Les Heures de
Marguerite d’Orléans, Paris 1991); more often one finds picture cycles in a chronological order in border medallions; see the Bedford Hours, Add. ms. 18850 of the
British Library (my book: The Bedford Hours, London 2007).
31 Property of shv Holdings nv of Utrecht; since 1998 on 99-year loan to the kb:
Facsimile van een middeleeuws getijdenboek, vervaardigd in de stad Utrecht ca. 1430
(printed by Drukkerij Rosbeek, Nuth, dated on the cover 1999 and 1430); Klara H.
Broekhuijsen, ‘A chronological Life of Christ by the Masters of Zweder van
Culemborg’, Quaerendo 41 (2011), special issue dedicated to the memory of Jos Hermans,
p. 126-138.
32 At this point, the book may have lost an important part of its texts, the
Pagina 59
Penitential Psalms and the Office of the Dead; the succeeding text is a series of
prayers to God on behalf of the harm of his Mother, followed by Suffrages to the
Saints etc.
33 See Klara H. Broekhuijsen, The Masters of the Dark Eyes. Late medieval manuscript
painting in Holland, Turnhout 2009.
34 For the following see the rich material in Korteweg’s cat. Praal, ernst & emotie, 2002.
35 James H. Marrow (with a contribution of François Avril), The Hours of Simon de
Varie, Malibu and The Hague 1994.
36 Eberhard König, The Bedford Hours. The making of a medieval masterpiece, London 2007.
37 The repainting of faces of protagonists is not as rare as it may sound. See my
book: Das Provost-Stundenbuch. Der Meister der Marguerite d’Orléans und die
Buchmalerei in Angers (Illuminationen. Studien und Monographien, hrsg. von
Heribert Tenschert, iv), Ramsen and Rotthalmünster 2002.
38 In another picture of the Master of Jean Rolin, the Pentecost, he repainted once
more the Virgin’s head.
39 On the Annunciation page, the heraldic maid in the border, together with the
angel playing harp, was equally retouched by Fouquet; that underlines the paramount importance of Simon de Varie’s coat of arms and devices, which inspired
even full-page miniatures by the Tours Master in the Getty’s fragment of the
book and in ms. 74 G 37a in The Hague.
40 Certainly the two-volume Visconti Hours in Florence come close, but are far from
matching that one gathering in The Hague.
41 The Très Riches Heures are now in Chantilly, Musée Condé, ms. 65; the so-called
Arnolfini portrait is in the National Gallery, London; see Marguerite Debae, La
bibliothèque de Marguerite d’Autriche. Essai de reconstruction d’après l’inventaire de
1523-24, Leuven 1995; and the exhibition cat. Dames met Klasse: Margareta van York
en Margareta van Oostenrijk, ed. by Joris Capenberghs and Dagmar Eichberger,
Mechelen 2005.
42 The Golden Age of Dutch manuscript painting, exhibition cat. Utrecht and New York
1989, no. 96; Leuchtendes Mittelalter ii: Sechzig illuminierte und illustrierte
Manuskripte des Mittelalters und der Renaissance, Rotthalmünster 1990, no. 34; H.C.
Wüstefeld and A.S. Korteweg, Sleutel tot licht. Getijdenboeken in de Bibliotheca
Philosophica Hermetica, Amsterdam 2009, no. 14.
43 A most impressive insight is given by Ina Nettekoven and Heribert Tenschert
(with passages by Caroline Zöhl), Horae B.M.V. 158 Stundenbuchdrucke der
Sammlung Bibermühle, 1490-1550, 3 vol., Bibermühle 2003.
44 See: M.P. Gauchery, Le Livre d’heures de Jehan Lallemant le Jeune, Seigneur de
Marmagne, Bourges 1911; Myra D. Orth, ‘Two Books of Hours for Jean Lallemant
Pagina 60
Le Jeune’, The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 38 (1980), p. 70-93; Myra D. Orth,
‘What goes around: borders and frames in French manuscripts’, The Journal of the
Walters Art Gallery 54 (1996) (Essays in Honor of Lilian M.C. Randall), p. 189-201,
278; Robert Schindler, ‘Jean Lallemant’s Books of Hours and French manuscript
illumination’, in: Prayers in code. Books of Hours from Renaissance France, ed. by
Martina Bagnoli, Baltimore 2009, p. 15-32.
45 So did Korteweg, Schatten, p. 217, following a tradition which goes back to
Léopold Delisle (Mélanges de paléographie et de bibliographie, Paris 1880, p. 234),
and an exhibition catalogue of 1907: Exposition de portraits peints et dessinés du
XIIIe au XVIIe siècle, Paris 1907, no. 132.
46 For instance by Myra Orth, ‘Two Books of Hours’, p. 78.
47 See the miniature in the Belles Heures du duc de Berry (New York, Cloisters), fol.
193v, with the Burial of the Hermit.

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