Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours

Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours

Bruges / Ghent (Belgium) — Between 1510 and 1520

Wonderful figures of people, animals, and mythical creatures: perhaps the most imaginative masterpiece by Gerard David, Gerard Horenbout, and Simon Bening.

  1. Named after its first owner and the 200 whimsical marginal decorations it contains (drolleries)

  2. Additionally contains 58 full-page miniatures by the famous Flemish masters Gerard David, Gerard Hohenbout, and Simon Bening

  3. This outstanding manuscript was the prized possession of Emperor Charles VI (1685–1740) inter alia

Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours

Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (3)
Description
Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours

The Croy Hours, which originated between 1510 and 1520 in Bruges, originally bore the title Book of Drolleries. This designation was lent to the work because it represented the paradigm of book illustrations famous in the Late Middle Ages, the so-called drolleries. Drolleries are fantastical marginal decorations that depict fabulous hybrid creatures from men, animals, and plants. This special characteristic feature makes The Croy Hours a unique book treasure that enchants every beholder with its splendid illustrations.

Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours

The Croy Hours, originating from the 16th century, originally bore the name Book of Drolleries. The term “drolleries” indicates a very specific, typical picture cycle for late-medieval illuminated manuscripts, which found its full expression in The Croy Hours. Drolleries are imaginative vignettes in which fairytale hybrid creatures of man and beast or plant are depicted. Alongside over 200 fascinating drolleries, The Croy Hoursis adorned with 58 colorful miniatures in the highest quality, 12 calendar miniatures, and countless gold appliqúes. In terms of content conception, the prayer book conforms to the widely-disseminated medieval book of hours, which was used for quiet prayer and private meditation.

A Book for Aristocratic Houses

To this day, it is not known exactly who commissioned and financed The Croy Hours. It was presumably an unidentified lady of the court of Hapsburg Burgundy. The name Croy goes back to the name of a French Nobleman, Guillaume de Croy recorded on a page of the manuscript. The de Croy family cultivated outstanding relations with the Dukes of Burgundy, John the Fearless and his son Philip the Good and belonged among the wealthiest and powerful Burgundian families. The precious book of hours represents the greatest treasure of their private book collection. At the beginning of the 18th century, Prince Eugene of Savoy acquired the precious work for his library, which belonged among the most comprehensive at that time and which came into the possession of Emperor Charles VI in the year 1738. The Croy Hours have always been an absolute highlight of the imperial collection.

Miniature Art from Bruges

Both of the greatest masters of the renowned Ghent-Bruges school made the miniatures of The Croy Hours. Gerard Hohenbout and Simon Bening created the full-page pictures of the manuscript and decorated the margins with the unique drolleries. Both of the masters worked in accord with the world-famous panel painter Gerard David for the artful design of the work. A few details about the origin of the manuscript still cannot clarified to this day. It is well established that the work was not produced in a single workshop, but instead the splendid design of the masterpiece was implemented throughout several stages of work and at various locations. The refined depictions attest to the unbelievable imagination and creative delight of both of the primary masters, which was supported by artists from various studios. The complicated yet not-fully researched production process contributes to the special appeal of The Croy Hours.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Croy-Gebetbuch
Buch der Drôlerien
Size / Format
366 pages / 19.5 × 13.7 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
Between 1510 and 1520
Language
Script
Gothic Textura Prescissa
Illustrations
58 colourful miniatures, over 200 fantastic drolleries, as well as a great number of decorative elements
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736)
Emperor Charles VI (1685–1740)

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours – Cod. 1858 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1993
Limited Edition: 290 copies (Deluxe Edition)

Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Standard Edition)
Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1993
Limited Edition: 690 copies

Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Red Velvet Edition)
Coron Verlag – Zurich, 1993
Limited Edition: 690 copies
Detail Picture

Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours

Red Roses

During the 15th and 16th centuries, books of hours increasingly featured realistic depictions of plants and they could sometimes even double as a botanical work. Floral imagery was especially popular in manuscripts from the Low Countries, where there was a bustling flower trade that was further invigorated by the recent import of tulips from the Ottoman Empire. This bas-de-page miniature contains depictions of red roses both in bloom and as buds along with a caterpillar and a large fly.

Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Deluxe Edition)
Single Page

Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours

June: Storing Hay

Aside from this codex’s namesake “drolleries,” this manuscript is distinguished by its calendar pages, possibly from the hand of Simon Bening. Bening took the typical labor of the month and enhanced it with wonderful landscapes and even cityscapes. Each month received two such depictions in the manuscript, including the present recto page from the month of June.

Beneath the Cancer zodiac sign, this labor of the month shows the aftermath of the verso page (not pictured), in which hay is harvested. The dried hay is being bundled and hoisted into a warehouse by means of a pulley. Although appearing in the margins around the text written in red and brown ink, the architecture to the right and the landscape to the left indicate a masterly use of perspective.

Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Deluxe Edition)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Deluxe Edition)

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1993
Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours – Cod. 1858 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Book of Drolleries - The Croy Hours – Cod. 1858 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1993
Limited Edition: 290 copies (Deluxe Edition)
Binding: The deluxe edition is a faithful replica of the well-preserved original binding with fine calfskin leather adorned with embossing, ornate gold-plated clasps, corner fittings, and rosettes. This was created at the beginning of the 16th century by the famous bookbinder Ludovicus Bloc from Bruges. The blind embossing shows medallions with monkeys, wild boars, deer, cattle, dogs, hares or squirrels as well as dancing peasants and musicians. Facsimile and commentary volume supplied together in a protective acrylic case.
Commentary: 1 volume by Otto Mazal and Dagmar Thoss
Languages: German, French
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: Login here!

#2 Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Standard Edition)

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1993
Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Standard Edition)
Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Standard Edition) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1993
Limited Edition: 690 copies
Binding: The standard edition is bound in fine calfskin, a faithful replica of the very well preserved original binding. This binding is a work of the famous bookbinder Ludovicus Bloc of Bruges, created at the beginning of the 16th century. Blind toolings show medallions decorated with monkeys, wild boars, deer, cattle, dogs, hares or squirrels as well as dancing peasants and musicians. Facsimile and commentary volume supplied together in a protective acrylic case.
Commentary: 1 volume by Otto Mazal and Dagmar Thoss
Languages: German, French
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: Login here!

#3 Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Red Velvet Edition)

Coron Verlag – Zurich, 1993
Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Red Velvet Edition)
Croy-Gebetbuch ­ Buch der Drôlerien (Red Velvet Edition) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Coron Verlag – Zurich, 1993
Limited Edition: 690 copies
Binding: A precious red velvet binding with gold rossette fittings, two gold clasps, and gilt-edging on the pages
Commentary: 1 volume by Otto Mazal and Dagmar Thoss
Languages: German, French
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: Login here!
You might also be interested in:
Offiziolo Alfonsino
Offiziolo Alfonsino
Ferrara (Italy) – 1505–1510

The last splendid work from Ferrara: Matteo da Milano's masterpiece for a great patron of the arts

Experience More
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg
Prayer Book of Duke John Albert I of Mecklenburg
Belgium / Germany – 1512–1569

Simon Bening, Albrecht Glockendon, Hans Sebald Beham: miniatures by the greatest artists of the Northern Renaissance assembled in a magnificent collection

Experience More
Blog articles worth reading
Filter selection
Publisher