Tiny in size, but a great treasure of the Renaissance: a fascinating insight into the life of an early modern woman with over 400 richly illuminated pages

Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza

Probably Flanders — 16th century

Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza

Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza

Probably Flanders — 16th century

  1. A tiny gem of Renaissance illumination commissioned by a Spanish noblewoman and art patron

  2. Despite measuring only 8.5 x 6 cm, the manuscript encompasses 404 richly illuminated pages

  3. This work offers a direct glimpse into the life of an early modern educated woman

Libro de Horas de Doña Mencía de Mendoza

Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza

The Crossbowman

A crossbowman shoots a bird out of the sky amidst giant flowers in the golden frame of this miniature portrait showing Mark the Evangelist working on his Gospel as his symbolic lion rests on the ground beside him. The squatty soldier is wearing a wide-brimmed steel helmet, black shoes, grey tights, and a bright red tunic synched at the waist with a belt, from which hangs a hooked lever used for cocking the crossbow. Such detailed marginalia is always the sign of a superior manuscript.

Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza

Alternative Titles:
  • Libro de Horas de Doña Mencía de Mendoza
  • Stundenbuch der Doña Mencía de Mendoza
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

A true gem of 16th century illumination: the Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza with the measurements of 8.5 x 6 cm. The commissioner and namesake of the magnificent manuscript, a Spanish noblewoman and wife of Count Henry III of Nassau, is known up to this day as an outstanding example of an early modern educated woman. Along with her husband, Doña Mencía de Mendoza was a great lover and supporter of the arts and patronized important figures in art history. As such, she naturally put the highest value on the great accomplishments of the artists, and they found expression in her wonderful book of hours!

Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza

A true gem of 16th century illumination: the Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza with the measurements of 8.5 x 6 cm. The commissioner and namesake of the magnificent manuscript, a Spanish noblewoman and wife of Count Henry III of Nassau, is known up to this day as an outstanding example of an early modern educated woman. Along with her husband, Doña Mencía de Mendoza was a great lover and supporter of the arts and patronized important figures in art history. As such, she naturally put the highest value on the great accomplishments of the artists, and they found expression in her wonderful book of hours!

Marvelous Miniatures about the Life of the Virgin Mary

The manuscript in the delicate format of 8.5 x 6 cm collects a total of 17 full-page miniatures on 404 pages. The marvelous paintings present among others depictions of the Legends of the Virgin Mary – from the Annunciation and Birth of Christ up to the Coronation of Mary – in addition to those of the four Evangelists and a few additional saints, who probably had a particular personal significance for the commissioner of the work. These scenes, which continuously broke up and illustrated the text a successful way, were absorbed by splendid marginal decorations.

An Interesting Female Figure of the 16th century

Doña Mencía de Mendoza’s coat of arms is repeatedly illustrated in the manuscript. Doña Mencía de Mendoza (1508-1554) was already described by contemporaries as an outstanding example of an educated woman in the 16th century. The Spanish noblewoman was the Marquesa del Cente and was also of significance in European history. She married for the first time in 1524: she was the third wife of Count Henry III of Nassau, Lord of Breda and the governor of Holland and Zealand from 1515 to 1521. He engaged himself with his wife as an important collector and supporter of the arts. Found among others in his collection were works by Hieronymus Bosch and Jan Gossaert. Mencía turned the court of Breda – the palace of Breda was remodeled in the Renaissance style in accordance with the wishes of the couple – into a center of the arts and a meeting point of the literati. Doña Mencía de Mendoza received a humanist education – as a student of the humanist Juan Luis Vives – and was a great fighter for the worth of women in 16th century society. Her likeness survives in a portrait by Simon Benning.

A Very Personal Glimpse

Alongside the coat of arms of Doña Mencía de Mendoza as the Marquesa del Cente on one page in the manuscript is the coat of arms of Count Henry III of Nassau, the first husband of Doña Mencía de Mendoza. Thus the book of hours contains direct notes concerning its owner and her famous spouse. As a result, the book of hours, which is housed today in the Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan in Madrid, offers a direct glimpse into the life of this impressive and important 16th century female figure!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro de Horas de Doña Mencía de Mendoza
Stundenbuch der Doña Mencía de Mendoza
Size / Format
404 pages / 8.5 x 6.0 cm
Date
16th century
Language
Illustrations
17 full-page miniatures
Libro de Horas de Doña Mencía de Mendoza

Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza

The Raising of Lazarus

Although only recounted in the Gospel of John, the raising of Lazarus of Bethany from the dead four days after his entombment is one of the most powerful of the miracles performed by Jesus and a popular subject for Christian art. The episode foretells Christ’s own triumph over death after the Crucifixion when he descended into the realm of the dead to bring the Good News to the righteous waiting there.

The scene takes place in the courtyard of a Gothic church under the boughs of a leafless tree and a grey winter sky. Lazarus looks up with disbelief at Jesus, who is flanked on the left by St. John (in red). He is surrounded by his two sisters, Martha and Mary, who are dressed in green and yellow. Richly dressed pharisees look on from the background.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza“

Libro de Horas de Doña Mencía de Mendoza
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Doña Mencía de Mendoza – 26-III-41 – Biblioteca del Instituto de Valencia de Don Juan (Madrid, Spain)
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Libro de Horas de Doña Mencía de Mendoza

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 2002
Limited Edition
980 copies
Binding
Leather, decorated in the middle with a heart of which rays arise. The book is stored in a small wooden box covered with red velvet and with clasps in coated silver locked with a key.
Commentary
1 volume (118 pages) by De juana Hidalgo Ogayar
Language: Spanish
More Information
From the time when the great specialist in Flemish miniatures, Paul Durrieu, saw this manuscript in 1898 at an exhibition for the 4th centenary of the Discovery of America, it has been attributed to William Vrelant. Born in Utrecht, Vrelant set up his workshop in Bruges and was one of the greatest miniaturists of the 15th century.
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