Facsimile Editions: The Most Beautiful Books of Hours and Prayer Books

Books of hours and prayer books were among the most popular genres of medieval illumination as they were often considered the "mink of the medieval lady". The number of surviving manuscripts is correspondingly large compared to other genres. Here you will find a selection of the most beautiful books of hours and prayer books.

The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Our picture of the Middle Ages, created by the Limbourg brothers for the Duke of Berry: one of the most beautiful, valuable, and famous manuscripts in the world

Paris and/or Bourges (France) — 1410–1416 and 1485–1489

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Bedford Hours

The Bedford Master's magnum opus: one of the most spectacularly illuminated manuscripts of all time

Paris (France) — 1410–1430

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Grimani Breviary

The "greatest" highlight of Flemish book painting: 1,600 fabulous pages magnificently decorated by Gerard David, Simon Bening, Gerard Horenbout, and other masters

Ghent and Bruges (Belgium) — 1510–1520

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Great Hours of Anne of Brittany

One of the most beautiful books of hours in the history of illumination and at the same time a herbolarium: miniatures and paintings created by the great Jean Bourdichon for the French Queen

Tours (France) — 1503–1508

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Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Magical miniatures in the grisaille technique by Jean Pucelle: a great masterpiece in small format for the Queen of France

Paris (France) — 1325–1328

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Black Prayer Book of Galeazzo Maria Sforza

Black parchment and bright colors commissioned by Charles the Bold: one of only a handful of black manuscripts preserved

Bruges (Belgium) — 1466–1476

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Rohan Hours

The beginning of a new era in illumination: masterful, full-page miniatures in an abundantly illuminated book of hours

Paris or Angers (France) — 1430–1435

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Visconti Book of Hours

Created by Giovannino de' Grassi and Belbello da Pavia: an expressive illuminated prayer book in two volumes for the Duke of Milan

Probably Milan (Italy) — Around 1390, completed after 1428

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Book of Hours of Luis de Laval

700 incredible pages with over 1,200 miniatures: an opulent and masterfully decorated work by Jean Colombe for the French governor and lord protector

France — 1470–1475 and 1485–1489

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Royal Prayer Book for Otto III

Gold and purple for the king: the only preserved royal Ottonian prayer book

Germany — 983–991

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Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

Italian Renaissance art in filigree perfection: the wedding gift of Lorenzo the Magnificent to his eldest daughter Lucrezia

Florence (Italy) — 1485

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Black Hours

Radiant miniatures, glowing borders and gold initials on black colored parchment: one of only seven black manuscripts that have survived to this day

Bruges (Belgium) — ca. 1475

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Da Costa Hours

Equipped with 121 wonderful miniatures and one of the most beautiful calendars from his hand: Simon Bening's early and brilliantly illuminated masterpiece

Ghent or Bruges (Belgium) — ca. 1515

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Turin-Milan Hours

An extraordinary and magnificent book treasure, even after its division into three works: Jan van Eyck's magnificent masterpiece for Jean Duc de Berry

Paris, Bourges (France); The Hague (Netherlands); Bruges (Belgium) — Between 1380/90 and 1420

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Durazzo Book of Hours

A masterpiece entirely in gold and purple: one of the last and one of the most beautiful purple manuscripts of the late Middle Ages

Parma (Italy) — Beginning of the 16th century

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