Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen

Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen – Belser Verlag – Barb. lat. 487 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Paris or Rouen (France) — Ca. 1510

Renaissance splendor with opulent bordures and miniatures resembling panel paintings: a luxury manuscript adorned with double-page miniatures for one of the most powerful families of the 16th century

  1. An exceptional commission for one of the most powerful Italian renaissance families, the Barberini

  2. Master Jean Pichore and his staff were probably responsible for the magnificent codex

  3. The most impressive picture program of the 17 large-scale and 44 smaller miniatures include double-page illustrations

Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen

The Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen was written around 1510 and probably illuminated by the famous Parisian master Jean Pichore, considered one of the most important illuminators of the late Middle Ages. The magnificent Renaissance book of hours was commissioned by none other than the Barberini family – one of the most powerful noble families of the 16th and 17th centuries in Italy, which cultivated a lively patronage and produced a number of bibliophiles. In keeping with this status, the precious codex contains numerous elaborately designed miniatures, some of which extend over entire pages. Particularly impressive are the exuberant borders, which artistically frame the book pages in an equally rich and fantastical variety of colours and ornaments and radiant gold decoration. This stunning book treasure is today housed in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana under the shelfmark Barb. lat. 487.

Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen

The Italian noble family Baraberini was one of the most influential ruling dynasties of the Renaissance. The family is infamous for their propensity to corruption and nepotism, as well as for their colossal building projects. Nevertheless, the members of the Barberini family were also educated book lovers. Numerous illuminated manuscripts were commissioned in their name, a few specimens of which exist still today. Among these valuable manuscripts is the Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen. The work contains 17 full page miniatures and 44 small pictures. The text is bedecked with numerous decorative initials and a total of 183 wonderful bordures.

Influential Commissioners

The famous master Jean Pichore and his staff were probably responsible for the design of the magnificent codex. Pichore was one of the most prominent French illuminators of the Late Middle Ages. He illustrated, among others, manuscripts for Cardinal Georges d´Amboise. He received the commission for the Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen from the Barberini family. In the 17th century, Maffeo de Barberini was elected Pope Urban VIII, consequently he occupied the highest religious and also political position of power at that time. To give significance to his position, the prince gave birth to vast building projects and did not fear the destruction of ancient monuments. For example, he approved the use of the Roman Colosseum as a quarry. He wanted to leave not only impressive buildings behind for posterity, but also literary monuments. The Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen is undoubtedly numbered among the most beautiful and valuable books of hours of the Renaissance.

Powerful Miniatures and Decorative Elements

The Barberini Book of Hours combines illustrations with events that are portrayed in the text in a unique way. The 17 full page miniatures sometimes stretch across a double page and resemble medieval mural painting in their expressiveness. Luminous colors and gold ornamentation turn each individual depiction into its own small work of art. 24 small miniatures describe zodiac signs and various activities that are ordered according to the 12 months of the year. The illuminators dedicated 14 additional small illustrations to various saints. The most elaborate decorative elements, however, form the numerous bordures that frame the book pages. They show an unmeasurable variety of patterns and decorative elements and still astound the beholder today.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Barberini-Stundenbuch für Rouen
Size / Format
218 pages / 24.4 × 14.3 cm
Origin
France
Date
Ca. 1510
Language
Script
Littera bastarda
Illustrations
17 full-page and 44 smaller miniatures; numerous architectural borders and frames
Content
Office of the Virgin and other Offices

Available facsimile editions:
Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen – Belser Verlag – Barb. lat. 487 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1994
Limited Edition: 1200 copies
Detail Picture

Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen

Margaret of Antioch

According to legend, St. Margaret, having sworn her virginity to God, refused to marry the Roman governor of her province and renounce her faith. She was swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon but escaped when the cross she carried irritated the Dragon’s innards. Margaret is depicted here emerging from the dragon’s side with a cross in her hands, which she holds in front of her in a gesture of prayer. The iron bars on the window indicate that she is in a prison cell.

Barberini-Stundenbuch für Rouen
Single Page

Barberini Book of Hours for the Use of Rouen

David and Uriah

After impregnating Bathsheba, King David sent a letter to Joab ordering him to place her husband Uriah in the front of the battle, where he would surely be killed. Wearing golden armor, Uriah, one knee deferentially bent, has already received the sealed order from David, who is dressed in a blue, ermine-lined robe. A guard and two of the King’s advisers stand on the sides at witnesses.

The checkerboard pattern of the floor helps to create a sense of depth and perspective that draws the eye to the window in the background and the ambiguous landscape that lies beyond it. This scene is presented with text in the form of a banderole within a splendid golden architectural frame that seems to float in front of a blue field of golden stars.

Barberini-Stundenbuch für Rouen
Facsimile Editions

#1 Barberini-Stundenbuch für Rouen

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1994

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1994
Limited Edition: 1200 copies
Binding: Leather
Commentary: 1 volume (128 pages) by Eberhard König
Language: German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Log in here!
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