Book of Hours of Philip II

Book of Hours of Philip II

Royal Monastery of El Escorial, San Lorenzo of El Escorial (Spain) — 16th century

The art of the Spanish Siglo de Oro: the personal prayer book of King Philip II of Spain and a magnificently illuminated highlight of Spanish book illumination

  1. This truly kingly manuscript was the personal book of hours of King Philip II of Spain (1527–98)

  2. It stands out as one of the greatest specimens of 16th century Spanish illumination

  3. The monks Andrés de León and Julián de la Fuenta el Saz created the royal commission

Book of Hours of Philip II

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Book of Hours of Philip II

The book of hours owned by the Spanish King Philip II impresses with wonderful, stylish miniatures that are perfectly executed artistically and a rich, creative design of the pages of text and imagery. Philip II, the significant Spanish King and builder of the royal monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commissioned the private devotional book, which was made by two monks of El Escorial. Oriented on the style of Italian role models like Giulo Clovio, the religious depictions and ornamental bordures bring the most luminous colors and noble gold together with fantastic miniature painting. The Book of Hours of Philip II represents one of the gems of the monastic library of the Escorial.

Book of Hours of Philip II

The book of hours owned by the Spanish King Philip II impresses with wonderful, stylish miniatures that are perfectly executed artistically and a rich, creative design of the pages of text and imagery. Philip II, the significant Spanish King and builder of the royal monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commissioned the private devotional book, which was made by two monks of El Escorial. Oriented on the style of Italian role models like Giulo Clovio, the religious depictions and ornamental bordures bring the most luminous colors and noble gold together with fantastic miniature painting. The Book of Hours of Philip II represents one of the gems of the monastic library of the Escorial.

The Royal Patron

In the years 1563–1585, King Philip II (1527–1598) had a royal monastery of incredible proportions built on a hill amidst a wide, barren landscape not far from Madrid. To this day, the monastery complex of San Lorenzo de El Escorial belongs among the most impressive edifices of 16th century Spain. The significant library with the great hall under a barrel vault decorated with wonderful frescoes is also one of the monuments created by Philip II. Numerous manuscripts have been housed in the library since the time of Philip II, some true treasures of illumination among them.

A Spanish Work of Art in the Italian Style

The Book of Hours of Philip II assembles 45 miniatures on 324 pages. All the pages of the royal manuscript are opulently designed with decorative ornamentation and furnished with gilded initials. The private book of hours, with an unusually large format of 33.5 x 23 cm, offers an unbelievably colorful impression at first sight. The Hieronymites Andrés de León and Julián de la Fuenta el Saz were the artists responsible for the manuscript. They oriented their artistic arrangement for the royal commission on Italian examples. The miniatures, frames, and initials are reminiscent of the fantastic art of Giulio Clovio in their perfection.

Airy Miniatures Alongside Ornamental Bordures

The biblical scenes of the miniatures play out above and before an airy green landscape and interior spaces designed with a strict perspective. The figures in colorful, lightly-draped garments are extremely animated and lovingly individualized. The large-format miniatures are surrounded by broad bordures, which also adorn some pages of text. Tasty fruits and splendid blossoms alternate in the décor with playful cherubs and other ornaments. Some of the pages are designed in a restrained yet noble manner with monochrome frames and bewildering golden ornaments, in which wonderful medallions with monochrome depictions of saints are embedded. The initials of the text are also furnished with gold in accordance with the overall artistic design. The Book of Hours of Philip II represents an outstanding attestation of 16th century Spanish illumination and, with its artistic décor of the highest quality, is worthy of a royal owner.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
The Philip II Prayer Book
Libro de Horas de Felipe II
Capitulario de Felipe II
Stundenbuch Philipps II.
Size / Format
320 pages / 30.5 x 21.5 cm
Origin
Spain
Date
16th century
Language
Script
Humanist
Illustrations
45 miniatures, highly decorative and varied frames for both text and images
Content
Liturgy of the Hours
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Hours of Philip II – Ms Vitrina 2 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 1996
Limited Edition: 979 copies

Capitulario de Felipe II
Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1996
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Detail Picture

Book of Hours of Philip II

“D” Initial

Books of hours included antiphons, short chants sung in refrain and rooted in the Psalms that were usually recited at Lauds and Vespers. This antiphon is introduced with the words Domine, labia mea aperies, et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam or “O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.”, which is Psalm 50:17 in the Latin Vulgate. It is introduced by a lovely historiated “D” initial of a woman playing an organ, which is masterfully shaded in the grisaille style.

Libro de Horas de Felipe II
Single Page

Book of Hours of Philip II

Annunciation to Joseph

This scene from Matthew 1:18–25, which is rarely depicted in art, is presented in the Mannerist Style of the Great Giulio Clovio: Joseph, upon learning that his betrothed is pregnant, is distressed and considers divorcing her in private to save her from disgrace. However, an angel appears to him, telling him of the miraculous conception and convincing him to take Mary to wife.

Aside from the incredible color palette, one cannot help but be struck by the emotionality of Mary and Joseph in this scene. The angel above bursts forth with great dynamism, Joseph looks stunned by the force of this news and falls or lunges forward. He is seemingly caught by Mary, who braces him by holding onto his arms. They look intently into one another’s eyes as the realization takes hold.

Libro de Horas de Felipe II
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro de Horas de Felipe II

Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 1996
Book of Hours of Philip II – Ms Vitrina 2 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain)
Book of Hours of Philip II – Ms Vitrina 2 – Real Biblioteca del Monasterio (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 1996
Limited Edition: 979 copies
Binding: Leather over wooden boards with gold embossing
Commentary: 1 volume by Francisco Gimeno Blay and Amadeo Serra Desfilis
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. In the creation of the fine facsimile the gold has been applied by hand, thus achieving a reproduction faithful to the original.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Capitulario de Felipe II

Publisher: Testimonio Compañía Editorial – Madrid, 1996
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Hand stitched and bound in red velvet. Faithful reproduction of the original with silver hardware.
Commentary: 2 volumes by Juan José Martín González and José Manuel Ruiz Asencio
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.
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