Almost 3,500 pictures from Willem Vrelant's workshop: a richly decorated Flemish masterpiece as a wedding gift for Queen Isabella of Spain

Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic"

Bruges (Belgium) — 15th century

Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic"

Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic"

Bruges (Belgium) — 15th century

  1. A royal treasure from the Spanish Golden Age, gifted to Queen Isabella (1451-1504) on her wedding day

  2. It is considered to be one of the masterpieces from the studio of Willem Vrelant (ca. 1481/2) in Bruges

  3. The work gleams with illumination: 3,487 miniatures, including 72 full-page miniatures

Libro de Horas de Isabel la Católica (Mudejar Binding)

Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic"

Adoration of the Magi

Adoration scenes are often vehicles for examining the contemporary court fashions from when they were created. The two older kings kneeling before Christ and the Virgin Mary are dressed in long robes with flowing, excessive sleeves while the young, clean-shaven king behind them is dressed more fashionably in red tights, an embroidered, thigh-length tunic, and is girt with a sword. Joseph, dressed in a monastic habit, sets one of the gifts to the side as he looks back over his shoulder.

Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic"

Alternative Titles:
  • Book of Hours of Queen Isabella of Castile
  • Libro de horas de Isabel la Católica
  • Stundenbuch der Isabel la Catolica
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The epoch of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella was a golden age for Spain, both politically and culturally. One of the treasures of this epoch is the so-called Book of Hours of Queen Isabella of Castile, which the Queen received either as a gift from her mother-in-law Juana Enríquez or from her husband on the occasion of their wedding. The quality and splendor of the precious manuscript is also suitable for a queen. All 730 pages of the book of hours gleam with exuberant adornment and magnificent miniatures. It is considered to be one of the masterpieces from the studio of Willem Vrelants in Bruges, an outstanding miniaturist of the Flemish school of the 15th century. The Book of Hours of Isabel la Catolica is a special treasure of illumination.

Book of Hours of Isabel I "The Catholic"

The epoch of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella was a golden age for Spain, both politically and culturally. One of the treasures of this epoch is the so-called Book of Hours of Queen Isabella of Castile, which the Queen received either as a gift from her mother-in-law Juana Enríquez or from her husband on the occasion of their wedding. The quality and splendor of the precious manuscript is also suitable for a queen. All 730 pages of the book of hours gleam with exuberant adornment and magnificent miniatures. It is considered to be one of the masterpieces from the studio of Willem Vrelants in Bruges, an outstanding miniaturist of the Flemish school of the 15th century. The Book of Hours of Isabel la Catolica is a special treasure of illumination.

Unbelievable Opulence and Exuberant Adornment

3,487 miniatures overall, of which 72 are full-paged, adorn the 730 pages of the marvelous book of hours. The exuberant adornment of the book treasure shows itself by opening it to any page. Broad bordures of multicolored, elaborate arabesques, additionally embellished with gold, or delicate foliage with fine flowers immediately catch one’s eye. These surround some of the text pages and numerous artful miniatures. The miniatures scenically present depictions of biblical stories and Acts of the Saints, always relevant to the text and in no way qualitatively inferior to panel painting. The pages of text are additionally adorned with marvelous initials against a gold background. The intense blue stands out in particular, underscored by luminous red. The artist’s mastery shows itself in the unusual design of the miniatures’ backgrounds, where the place of simple gold backgrounds or blue skies is taken by a marvelous raster consisting of gold, blue, and red squares.

A Bruges Masterpiece

The artistic design of the book of hours is very impressive, as is the overwhelming wealth of colors and the richness of the paintings and their exceptional quality. As the master of this splendid manuscript, Willem Vrelant was responsible for this. This miniaturist who was active in Utrecht and Bruges (d. 1481/82) built up a special studio around himself, which produced the most magnificent manuscripts of the Flemish school. Originating from the hand of Willem Vrelant and his workshop are some miniatures from the Book of Hours of Maria of Burgundy or the so-called Black Hours, among others. Nevertheless, the Book of Hours of Isabel la Catolica, originating ca. 1455-60, is considered to be one of the outstanding masterpieces of the marvelous artist!

A Gift for the Queen

The commissioner of the book of hours was Juana Enríquez of Navarre and Aragon, mother of the eventual King Ferdinand II of Aragon. The gem came into the possession of Isabella of Castile either as a gift from her mother-in-law or her husband on the occasion of her wedding in 1469. Isabella of Castile (1451-1504), called “La Catolica,” was a queen of Castile and Léon. Spain was bound into a unified kingdom through her marriage with Ferdinand of Aragon. Together they were named the so-called Catholic Monarchs under whose rule Spain attained great importance. Among others, it was they who took Christopher Columbus into their service and thus made his great discoveries possible. In illumination, their names are known through the Book of Hours of the Catholic Monarchs, the production of which involved the best artists of their time and which the royal couple received as a gift from Emperor Maximilian I. Their collection was expanded by an outstanding piece of 15th century Flemish painting, the Book of Hours of Isabel la Catolica.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Book of Hours of Queen Isabella of Castile
Libro de horas de Isabel la Católica
Stundenbuch der Isabel la Catolica
Size / Format
730 pages / 21.0 x 15.0 cm
Date
15th century
Language
Illustrations
A total of 3,487 miniatures of which 72 are full-page. 59 illustrate the main and secondary texts
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Libro de Horas de Isabel la Católica (Mudejar Binding)

Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic"

The Flagellation

Like all of the 72 full-page miniatures of this manuscript from the workshop of William Vrelant, the scene at hand is a masterpiece equal to any panel painting of the 15th century. The fourth station of the Passion is depicted within a frame of gorgeous tendrils in red, blue, green, and gold leaf, which includes a bishop playing some kind of flute.

The Flagellation is set amidst an abstract architecture, perhaps a courtyard, the perspective of which is nonetheless correct. One cannot see the blows on Christ’s back, but the cruel joy on his persecutors’ faces tells the story of the carnage. They appear to be dressed like Turks, perhaps representing anxieties in Europe following the Fall of Constantinople and their subsequent invasion of the Balkans.

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic"“

Libro de Horas de Isabel la Católica (Mudejar Binding)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of Isabel "The Catholic" – Biblioteca del Palacio Real (Madrid, Spain)
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Libro de Horas de Isabel la Católica (Mudejar Binding)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1991
Limited Edition
980
Binding
Hand sewn and bound in blue goatskin. Gold stamping.
Commentary
1 volume (130 pages) by Ana Domínguez Rodríguez
Language: Spanish
Regular price without login (like new)2,980 €
Login for a Better Price!
Libro de Horas de Isabel la Católica (Luxury Edition)
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Libro de Horas de Isabel la Católica (Luxury Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1991
Limited Edition
980
Binding
Hand sewn and bound in blue goatskin. Luxury Edition: gold-plated hardware of the original faithfully reproduced.
Commentary
1 volume (130 pages) by Ana Domínguez Rodríguez
Language: Spanish
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