Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega

Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega – Club Bibliófilo Versol – Cod. Vitr. 24-2 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)

Bruges (Belgium) — Ca. 1468

A precious testimony of international relations: varied borders and 78 full-page miniatures by the Flemish master Willem Vrelant as a sumptuous gift from a Spanish diplomat

  1. Leonora's father was gifted it by the Spanish ambassador in Flanders, Diego Ramirez de Villaescusa

  2. The book of hours features 78 full-page miniatures by the Flemish illuminator Willem Vrelant (ca. 1481/2)

  3. Unbelievably rich and diverse bordure embellishment is found on nearly all 404 pages

Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega

The Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega originated between 1465 and 1470 in Bruges. It was not specifically made for Leonora, the sister of the famous Spanish poet Garcilasco de la Vega. Actually, the astounding masterpiece was a gift for her father, who bequeathed the codex to his daughter after his death. The book of hours was manufactured by the Flemish illuminator Willem Vrelant and is embellished with breathtaking miniatures and the most varied of illuminations. Vrelant was one of the most talented students of the great master Jan van Eyck.

Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega

The most beautiful handmade and illuminated books of the 15th century undoubtedly came from the Belgian city of Bruges. The most talented artists of the Netherlands joined together to form the painters’ guild of Bruges. Their masterful works were coveted across the entire world. The Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega is one of the most precious examples of Bruges illumination. It was designed by the painter Willem Vrelant and contained a few illustrations, which clearly demonstrate influences from the painter Jan van Eyck. Jan van Eyck is counted among the so-called old masters, arguably the most important artists in art history. The original of the precious book of hours is found today in the Spanish National Library.

An International Book Treasure

Willem Vrelant was the author of the handmade book of hours. Vrelant (1410–81) lived in Bruges and was active in Flanders as an artist his entire life. He was one of the most gifted of Jan van Eyck’s students. He designed his magnificent book of hours between 1465 and 1470. In the year 1498, the masterpiece was sent as a gift by the Spanish ambassador in Flanders, Diego Ramirez de Villaescusa, to the father of the famous poet Garcilaso de la Vega in Rome. The family of the poet lived in Rome for a long time. Leonora, Garcilaso’s sister, inherited the document after the death of her father, and it is for that reason that it bears her name today.

Unbelievable Variety of Depiction

The book of hours contains 404 parchment pages altogether and is bound in goatskin. The work opens with an unillustrated calendar. The unadorned calendar stands in stark contrast with the rest of the elaborately illustrated codex. 78 full-page miniatures in luminous colors and with rich gold adornment beam before the beholder. Unbelievably fantastical and diverse bordure embellishment is found on practically every page. The pictures visualize important scenes from the events of the prayer book’s text. The bordures display flowers, buds, and a large variety of growth, small animals, and monsters. In addition to this diverse variety of depiction, elaborately embellished initials give structure to the work’s text.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro de Horas de doña Leonor de la Vega
Stundenbuch der Leonor Lasso de la Vega
Vrelant-Stundenbuch
Size / Format
404 pages / 19.0 × 13.0 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
Ca. 1468
Language
Illustrations
78 miniatures
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Diego Ramirez de Villaescusa de Haro, Spanish Ambassador to Flanders
Garcilaso de la Vega, Spanish Ambassador to Rome
Doña Leonor de la Vega

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega – Club Bibliófilo Versol – Cod. Vitr. 24-2 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2000
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Detail Picture

Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega

“D” Initial: Road to Calvary

While carrying his cross on the road to Golgotha or Calvary, Jesus encounters his mother as he is being dragged along by the Roman legionaries, dressed here in the fashion of Turkish soldiers. It is contained within a lovely red-blue “D” initial with fine patterns and shimmering gold leaf. With remarkable detail for a historiated initial, even the figures are highlighted with strokes of gold ink. The floral marginalia to the left contains a drollery whose tail has a head of its own.

Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega – Club Bibliófilo Versol – Cod. Vitr. 24-2 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Single Page

Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega

Salvator Mundi

Here we see an early depiction of the Salvator Mundi or “Savior of the World”, a subject of Christian iconography popular with artists from Northern Europe. Christ is typically depicted with his right hand raised in a gesture of benediction while holding a globus cruciger or “cross-bearing orb” in the left. The latter object symbolizes Christ’s dominion over the Earth.

With a golden halo taking the form of a cross against a blue background, Christ looks directly out at the beholder with a look of serenity, neatly parted hair, and a trimmed beard. His red cloak is trimmed with golden cuffs and a collar that reads REX REGUM, “King of Kings”. Colorful tendrils frame the miniature and contain a praying angel as well as a man battling a serpent.

Book of Hours of Leonor de la Vega – Club Bibliófilo Versol – Cod. Vitr. 24-2 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro de Horas de doña Leonor de la Vega

Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2000

Publisher: Club Bibliófilo Versol – Madrid, 2000
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: Goat skin
Commentary: 1 volume
Language: Spanish
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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