Book of Hours of the Aescolapius

Book of Hours of the Aescolapius

15th century

A magnum opus of the international style: a filigree decorated masterpiece on the threshold of Gothic to Renaissance

  1. A magnum opus of International Gothic, the turning point from the Gothic to the Renaissance styles

  2. Grandiose frames of fine floral filigree tendrils surround the miniatures and texts with initials

  3. Focused on the life of the Virgin Mary, the codex also contains various saints' lives and biblical legends

Book of Hours of the Aescolapius

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

The Bibliotheca des Colegio de las Escuelas Pias in Saragossa houses a magnum opus of international Gothic in Spain: the so-called Book of Hours of the Aescolapius. With its overwhelming artistic furnishings, the book of hours is counted among the highpoints of 15th century book illumination. Grandiose, broad frames of fine floral filigree tendrils surround the gorgeous miniatures and texts with magnificent initials. The representations of saints’ lives, tales from the Bible, and legends about the Virgin Mary in particular demonstrate the great art of the master who implemented them. Gold leaf, dominant throughout the manuscript, lends the Book of Hours of the Aescolapius an exceptional aura.

Book of Hours of the Aescolapius

The Bibliotheca des Colegio de las Escuelas Pias in Saragossa houses a magnum opus of international Gothic in Spain: the so-called Book of Hours of the Aescolapius. With its overwhelming artistic furnishings, the book of hours is counted among the highpoints of 15th century book illumination. Grandiose, broad frames of fine floral filigree tendrils surround the gorgeous miniatures and texts with magnificent initials. The representations of saints’ lives, tales from the Bible, and legends about the Virgin Mary in particular demonstrate the great art of the master who implemented them. Gold leaf, dominant throughout the manuscript, lends the Book of Hours of the Aescolapiusan exceptional aura.

An Outstanding Example of International Gothic

The style of international Gothic ca. 1400 marks the turning point from Gothic to Renaissance. In the illumination of this period the new style is particularly characterized by the Limburg Brothers or Jacquemart de Hesdin. Also known as the soft style, this movement expresses itself in particular through flowing and cascading garments and embellishing figures. The Book of Hours of the Aescolapius by Padre Aescolapius or the Priarists from Saragossa, with its grandiose miniatures and overly rich furnishings with ornamentation and gold, counts among the highpoints of this new, groundbreaking style.

Deep Colors and Luminous Gold

The master of the Book of Hours of the Aescolapius presents an abundance of artistic adornment and gold on 368 pages, the likes of which are seldom found. Miniatures of King David with his harp, of Luke painting the Madonna, or of John the Evangelist in a grandiose landscape alternate with depictions of the tale of Mary. The Christmas events in the Temple of Bethelehem, the depiction of Christ in the Temple, or the Lamentation place the focus squarely on the Virgin Mary in a luminous blue cloak. In the Coronation of Mary she finally is standing center stage. Particularly worthy of note in the exceptional style of the miniaturist are the wonderful landscapes in the background of the scenes. King David or John the Evangelist sit in the middle of deep green meadows in front of sandy hills and under a blue sky, from which the golden sun sends forth its rays.

Overwhelming Splendor on 400 Pages

The pages, unusually large in format, follow a defined schema in their design and construction. Broad decorative frames embellished with the finest floral ornamentation surround the miniatures and text on every page. A fantastic tangle of tendrils, flowers, and fruits were unfurled in bright colors and glimmering gold. The miniatures themselves, with an ornamental line of text under the picture, are once again surrounded by narrow frames. Gorgeous initials additionally adorn the text and allow an overwhelming image of various elements to emerge before the eyes of the beholder. The splendor of these artistic furnishings is comparable in some ways with great names such as the Book of Hours of Mary of Burgundy or the works of the Limburg brother for the Duc de Berry.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro de Horas de los Escolapios
Escolapius-Stundenbuch
Size / Format
368 pages / 21.8 × 15.1 cm
Date
15th century
Style
Language
Previous Owners
Archbishop Tomás Crespo Agüero (1668–1742)
Juan Antonio de Rosillo

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Hours of the Aescolapius – Colegio de las Escuelas Pías (Zaragoza, Spain)
Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2011
Limited Edition: 898 copies
Detail Picture

Book of Hours of the Aescolapius

Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

This Gothic miniature shows the Virgin Mary kneeling at the altar and flanked by the prophetess Hannah. Simeon, the high priest, hands the baby Jesus back to Mary as the infant reaches out for its mother in a very realistic fashion. Gold leaf has been elegantly employed for the halos, to highlight the garments and to create a wonderful pattern on the red divider. The positioning of the altar and the rounded wall of windows behind them demonstrate an early attempt at creating perspective.

Libro de Horas de los Escolapios
Single Page

Book of Hours of the Aescolapius

King David

David was seen as an embodiment of chivalry and Christian kingship during the Middle Ages. Here we see King David praying, having set aside his signature lyre. He is possibly at the River Jordan, or perhaps it is a reference to Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

David is wearing an ermine-trimmed robe in the style of a Gothic ruler, but his demeanor is completely deferential. His crown, clothes, instrument, and even the features of the landscape behind him are all embellished with gold, as though the rays of God’s grace descending from above are being reflected. The miniature is surrounded by floral marginalia of an exemplary quality.

Libro de Horas de los Escolapios
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro de Horas de los Escolapios

Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2011
Book of Hours of the Aescolapius – Colegio de las Escuelas Pías (Zaragoza, Spain)
Book of Hours of the Aescolapius – Colegio de las Escuelas Pías (Zaragoza, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Siloé, arte y bibliofilia – Burgos, 2011
Limited Edition: 898 copies
Binding: Handbound in red velvet, adorned with clasps and elaborate medallions made of standard silver.
Commentary: 1 volume (200 pages) by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta and Gonzalo Fontana Elboj
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.
Price Category: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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