Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

Ghent (Belgium) — ca. 1475

A work of the "Who's Who" of medieval illumination: the wedding gift of Emperor Maximilian I to the Catholic Monarchs

  1. The wedding gift from Emperor Maximilian I to the Catholic Monarchs

  2. Created in Ghent, this collaboration is a veritable 'Who's Who' of the late-15th century art world

  3. It was originally commissioned by Margarete of York, the sister of King Edward IV of England (1442–1483)

Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

The Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain counts as part of the distinguished works of the Late Middle Aged book painting and is considered to be among the most beautiful Books of Hours in the world. With its uncountable miniatures, spanning a total of 650 pages, this manuscript flaunts beauty that truly has no equal. The best Flemish book artists of their time brought true works of art onto these parchment pages. Presumably the book was a present from Emperor Maximilian I to the so-called Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. The name of Margarete of York is also connected to this manuscript, as she was the original patron from the work in 1475.

Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

The Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain counts as part of the distinguished works of the Late Middle Aged book painting and is considered to be among the most beautiful books of hours in the world. With its uncountable miniatures, spanning a total of 650 pages, this manuscript flaunts beauty that truly has no equal. The best Flemish book artists of their time brought true works of art onto these parchment pages. Presumably the book was a present from Emperor Maximilian I to the so-called Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. The name of Margarete of York is also connected to this manuscript, as she was the original patron from the work in 1475.

Great Names from Art History

The 650 pages of the codex are split into three parts today; one in the Spanish National Library in Madrid, one in the State Museum of Berlin, and one in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It arose in 1475 in Ghent, one of the central hubs of Flemish art in the Late Middle Ages. Several artists have been identified as being involved in this high ranking work, such as the famous Master of the Book of Hours of Maria of Burgundy, and also the Master of the Dresden Prayerbook. Alongside that, several miniatures derive from Flemish book painter Simon Marmion, an exceptionally gifted artist of his time, as well as from Lieven van Lathem and Nicolas Spierinc. This enumeration of artists reads truly as a ‘Who’s Who’ of the art community of the late 15th century. At many of the places in thus gorgeous manuscript, the devise known as voustre demeure is present, which also coincidentally is a name which has been tied to this book, too. The officiating patron of the work was Margarete of York, the sister of King Edward IV of England and the wife of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. In roundabout way, the book ended up in the possession of Emperor Maximillian I. He then presumably gifted the work to Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain on the occasion of their wedding. This monarchal pair are also well-known under the designation of the ‘Catholic Monarchs’.

Images of Overwhelming Magnificence

Magnificence of immeasurable proportions opens up before the eyes of the beholder in this work. Natural depictions of plants and flowers alternate with illustrations of animals and insects. However, the splendor of these images serve only as the borders and backgrounds of the actual miniatures embedded within them. Three different types of miniature-pages are present in this book of hours: among them are 87 whole-page miniatures, such as the Madonna or an impressive Lamentation by Simon Marmion. There are the small miniature scenes in the edges and borders, such as saintly Annunciation scenes, as part of the aforementioned frames with flowers and animals. For example, Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging among the figures painted into the frames around the text. There are an astounding 583 quarter-page miniatures. Artful initials are integrated in the miniatures for the most part. Stylistically, the adornment of this book of hours is of the highest quality. The many innovations of Flemish illumination are richly applied to this work. Firstly, the observation of nature is the basis of the naturalistic paintings. Secondly, the illusionism of the composition, be it in relation to the background with architectural elements or the depictions of landscapes, or in relation to the interlaced, mutually reinforcing style of the border decorations and integrated miniature scenes. The magnificence of the codex is highlighted by the generous application of silver and gold to the ornamentation of the picture pages. The exterior, unfurled in a leather cover, promises the hidden treasure contained within this book of hours.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro De Horas De Los Reyes Católicos
Book of Hours of the Catholic Monarchs
Voustre Demeure Hours
Stundenbuch der Katholischen Könige
Stundenbuch von Ferdinand und Isabella von Spanien
Livre d'Heures des Rois Catholiques
Libro d’Ore dei Re Cattolici
Livro de Horas dos Reis Católicos
Size / Format
650 pages / 13.1 × 9.2 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
ca. 1475
Language
Script
Bastarda
Illustrations
87 large-format miniatures and 583 quarter-page miniatures with motifs depicting vegetation, animals and insects
Content
Liturgy of the Hours
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519)
Queen Isabella I of Castile (1451-1504)
King Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452-1516)

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain – Ms. Vit 25-5|78 B 13 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain) / Staatliche Museen (Berlin, Germany)
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2009
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Detail Picture

Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

Peacock

The peacock was popular both as a heraldic device – a sign of that noble house’s pride and splendor – and as a Christian symbol. So-called “eyes” found on its feathers came to represent the all-seeing nature of God and its plumage as a whole could be seen as symbolizing the cosmos with each eye representing a celestial body. This splendid bas-de-page miniature has a peacock with its beak extended toward the sky surrounded by various blooming flowers, ripe strawberries, and a butterfly.

Libro De Horas De Los Reyes Católicos
Single Page

Book of Hours of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain

St. Barbara and the Judges

Barbara was a Greek saint and martyr living in 3rd century Lebanon and as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers – saints whose intercession is regarded as particularly effective – was widely venerated in the Middle Ages. When her pagan father threatened to kill her, Barbara’s prayers caused a hole to appear in the wall of the tower where she was kept, allowing her to escape.

After her escape from her father, Barbara faces judges who demand she renounce her Christian faith. It is a masterful miniature populated by naturalistic, gesturing figures dressed in rich brocade and cloth of gold. Accurately and artfully rendered architectures form the background and the pale Gothic tower, complete with pointed arches, is particularly lovely.

Libro De Horas De Los Reyes Católicos
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro De Horas De Los Reyes Católicos

Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2009

Publisher: Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2009
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Leather with two clasps
Commentary: 1 volume (104 pages) by Eberhard König
Languages: Spanish, Italian, English, 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. All the fragments of the original manuscript have been reassembled here into a single facsimile edition.
Price Category: €€€€ (7,000€ - 10,000€)
Edition available
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