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.

Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

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

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

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Bedford Hours

Paris (France) — ca. 1423-1430

The magnum opus of the famous Bedford Master: one of the most richly and beautifully illuminated manuscripts of all time

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Breviarium Grimani

Ghent und Bruges (Belgium) — 1510-1520

The "greatest" high point of Flemish illumination: 1600 fabulous pages decorated by Gerard David, Simon Bening, Gerard Horenbout, and other masters

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Grandes Heures der Anne de Bretagne

Tours (France) — 1503-1508

One of the most beautiful books of hours in the history of illumination and simultaneously a herbolarium: miniatures like panel paintings created by the great Jean Bourdichon for the Queen of France

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Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Paris (France) — 1325-1328

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

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Black Prayer Book

Bruges (Belgium) — 1466-1476

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

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Rohan Hours

Paris or Angers (France) — 1430-1435

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

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Visconti Book of Hours

Probably Milan (Italy) — ca. 1390, completed after 1428

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

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Book of Hours of Louis de Laval

France — 1470-1475 and 1485-1489

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

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Royal Prayer Book for Otto III

Germany — 983-991

All in purple and gold: the only surviving royal prayer book from the Ottonian period

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Prayer Book of Lorenzo de' Medici

Florence (Italy) — 1485

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

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Black Book of Hours

Bruges (Belgium) — ca. 1475

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

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Da Costa Hours

Ghent und Bruges (Belgium) — ca. 1515

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

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Turin-Milan Hours

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

A splendid book treasure even after its division: Jan van Eyck's fabulous masterpiece for Jean Duc de Berry

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Durazzo Book of Hours

Parma (Italy) — Beginning of the 16th Century

All in gold and purple: one of the last and most beautiful purple manuscripts of the Late Middle Ages

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