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

Bedford Hours

Paris (France) — Around 1423-1430

Bedford Hours

Bedford Hours

Paris (France) — Around 1423-1430

  1. Arguably one of the richest and most beautiful illuminated medieval manuscripts ever made

  2. With 1,288 miniatures from his hand, it is the Bedford Master's magnum opus

  3. Each page presents at least two breath-taking scenes with rich colors, gold, and silver

Bedford-Stundenbuch

Bedford Hours

Noah’s Drunkenness

After the Flood, Noah unloads all the animals from the Ark, makes burnt offerings, and begins to settle the newly-cleansed earth. Among the things he did was plant the first vineyard and to create the first wine, and thus Noah became the first man to get drunk. This splendid miniature shows Noah, dressed in a blue tunic and a red hat, first pruning his vines and then lying on the ground with a wine skin. Meanwhile, the corpses of those drowned in the Flood float by in the water.

Bedford Hours

Alternative Titles:
  • Bedford-Stundenbuch
  • Stundenbuch des Herzogs von Bedford
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Bedford Hours is considered worldwide to be the richest and most beautiful illuminated manuscript of medieval book art. It was produced in the early 15th century in the renowned Parisian workshop of the Bedford Master, one of Europe’s most gifted medieval illuminators. The work gained its title through its close association with the Duke of Bedford, John of Lancaster. Each page of the comprehensive work presents as least one breath-taking pictorial scene in a splendid variety of colors as well as rich gold and silver adornment.

Bedford Hours

Among the many masterpieces of medieval illumination and book art, the book of hours of the so-called Bedford Master has special significance. It is considered to be the Middle Age’s richest book of hours and is one of the greatest treasures of the British Library in London. The book contains 587 pages of an absolutely luxurious abundance furnishings. Altogether, the codex contains 38 large-format miniatures richly embellished with gold and silver as well as 1250 fascinating, smaller miniature medallions. The handwritten text of the private prayer and devotional books was recorded in Latin and the enchanting pictures are accompanied by French explanatory notes in red and blue ink. The work is counted among the most influential and masterful medieval illuminated manuscripts in the world.

The Mysterious Bedford Master

For a long time, it was thought that the precious book of hours of John I of Lancaster, Duke of Bedford was commissioned by John himself. This assumption clarified the title of the work and also the maker’s name of convenience, the Bedford Master. Although the Bedford Master belonged to the highest rank of medieval illuminators worldwide, almost no sources regarding his life have survived. It is merely known that the Master worked in Paris from 1405 to 1465 as one of the most prominent illuminators of Europe. He personally completed virtually all of his stunning miniatures, which represent the artist’s greatest tour de force.

A Personal Book Treasure

In the course of history, it has been determined that the unbelievably precious and expensive book of hours was not commissioned by the Duke of Bedford himself. In the year 1423, the Duke entered into a politically important marriage with Anne of Burgundy, daughter of the French Duke. Her father, John the Fearless, is considered to have been a passionate lover of books and possessed one of the greatest collections of illuminated manuscripts in all the Middle Ages. One can gather that the Bedford Hours was presented as a wedding gift to the bride from her brother. However, the marriage of Anna and the Duke of Bedford was not recorded in historical sources as a mere marriage of convenience, but rather described as a genuine romantic relationship. As a result, the masterly book of hours is still seen as a symbol of the deep love and affection that the couple bore for one another.

Innovate Book Adornment

The exceptionally comprehensive book of hours is furnished with a phenomenal 1,288 miniatures in splendid colors and opulent gold and silver adornment. Each page of the work presents at least one breath-taking and incomparable image. The miniatures, all of which depict important scenes from the Old- and New Testaments, revolutionized medieval illumination. The Bedford Master possessed an indescribably exact instinct for the realistic reproduction of nature, for perspectival representations, for open landscapes, and for architectural interrelationships. Also, his talent in the art of portraiture was unrivalled by his contemporary artist colleagues. His expressive, realistic images represent a highpoint of the art of illumination in the Middle Ages and exercised a strong influence on successive miniaturists across the world. The image of the story of the Tower of Babel set standards in particular and is famous to this day. These marvelous book illustrations will bestow a sense of reverent astonishment on every beholder.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Bedford-Stundenbuch
Stundenbuch des Herzogs von Bedford
Size / Format
578 pages / 26.3 x 18.4 cm
Date
Around 1423-1430
Style
Gothic
Illustrations
5 full-page and 38 large-format miniatures, 3 historiated initials, approx. 1,250 border illustrations
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Bedford-Stundenbuch

Bedford Hours

Tower of Babel

This is the most famous miniature in the world’s finest illuminated manuscript. There is much to be admired, from the refined garments, which hang naturally from the figures, to the wonderful use of perspective, to the idyllic landscape under a sky of stars rendered in gold. However, it is the details of the construction that are perhaps most interesting.

In the foreground, two masons are shaping the stone blocks with various kinds of hammers and chisels. One is using a square and compass – now famous as the symbol of Freemasonry – as he precisely checks the stone’s measurements. Nevertheless, this precise stonework is for naught because angels sent by god are confounding the work at the top of the tower, where the workmen, fall into fighting amongst themselves.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Bedford Hours“

Bedford-Stundenbuch
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Bedford Hours – Ms. Add. 18850 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
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Bedford-Stundenbuch

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Faksimile Verlag – Luzern, 2006
Limited Edition
980 copies
Binding
The red velvet binding includes two gilded clasps that are additionally decorated with fine engravings, reproducing the arms and mottoes of the great English bibliophile Baron Harley. The contents binding with its hand-stitched two-coloured head-cap is furthermore gilt-edged in a distinctive brush gold. The Fine Art Facsimile Edition is delivered in an acrylic glass case, protecting and presenting the Bedford Hours in an adequate form.
Commentary
1 volume (244 pages) by Prof. Eberhard König
Language: German
Regular price without login (like new)3,090 €
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