Book of Hours of the Altarpieces

Book of Hours of the Altarpieces – Millennium Liber – Vit. 25-3 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)

Tours (France) — Third quarter of the 15th century

Miniatures like altarpieces and evidence of censorship during the Inquisition: a Flemish masterpiece in the style of Jan van Eyck with censored prayers

  1. This richly illuminated manuscript is named for its gorgeous miniatures that resemble altarpieces

  2. Considered to be a 15th century Flemish masterpiece in the style of Jan van Eyck or Hans Memling

  3. A witness to medieval censorship - some prayers were crossed out during the Spanish Inquisition

Book of Hours of the Altarpieces

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Book of Hours of the Altarpieces

The so-called Book of Hours of the Altarpieces, also known as the Missal of Fernández de Córdoba, is one of the treasures of the Spanish National Library’s manuscript collection. Closely connected stylistically with the 15th century, its lavish pictorial adornment is very impressive. Alongside the gorgeous miniature pages of the highest quality – which lend the manuscript its name because of their similarity to altarpieces – all the pages of text have been creatively and tastefully designed. Therefore, every page of the manuscript offers enough substance to immerse oneself in the splendor of medieval illumination!

Book of Hours of the Altarpieces

The so-called Book of Hours of the Altarpieces, also known as the Missal of Fernández de Córdoba, is one of the treasures of the Spanish National Library’s manuscript collection. Closely connected stylistically with the 15th century, its lavish pictorial adornment is very impressive. Alongside the gorgeous miniature pages of the highest quality – which lend the manuscript its name because of their similarity to altarpieces – all the pages of text have been creatively and tastefully designed. Therefore, every page of the manuscript offers enough substance to immerse oneself in the splendor of medieval illumination!

The Unusual Name

Each of the primary miniatures is accompanied by two or three smaller miniatures in a register. These miniatures are reminiscent of altarpieces in their form, so-called retables. It is not only the form of the miniatures, but also their exceptional quality that draws connections to panel painting. The Book of Hours of the Altarpieces, also known as the Missal of Fernández de Córdoba, is an impressive work with outstanding artistic furnishings!

Evidence of the Inquisition

A historically valuable special feature of the Book of Hours of the Altarpieces are the visible manifestations of censorship. The manuscript was censored, like so many other codices in the course of the Inquisition – according to records, the codex was in the possession of a lady named Teresa. Consequently, a prayer to the Virgin Mary is crossed out, among others. This clearly visible sign of intolerance is historically significant, and can serve today as a reminder for tolerance in questions of faith.

Splendid Illumination Modelled on the Flemish Style

The 400 pages of the Book of Hours of the Altarpieces distinctly present the manuscript as a work of the 15th centuries. Stylistically, the illumination follows the fantastic examples of Flemish illumination by the likes of Jan van Eyck or Hans Memling. Without exception, every page of the manuscript is decorated all over. 45 full-page, stylistically exceptional miniatures impress one with their artistry, three-dimensionality, colorfulness, and the design of the figures. The pages of text are also splendidly designed. They are framed by broad ornamental borders consisting of floral ornamentation, adorned with small depictions of animals and the like. Butterflies flutter above the pages, but dragons and cherubs also populate the frames of the text.

Saints, Biblical Tales, Star Signs, and more…

The miniatures present depictions of individual saints, e.g. St. George as a dragon slayer or the martyrdom of St. Apollonia. Additionally, the Passion story and other biblical tales, such as the Slaughter of the Innocents, are handsomely illustrated. Every miniature is additionally labeled with a three-line text along with a large ornamental initial, respectively. Also the calendar pagesadorn the manuscript with splendid ornamentation – broad frames with fine floral elements showing buds and booms. Additionally, a depiction of each of the star signs is combined respectively with another miniature depicting a rustic scene. The pictorial decoration of the Book of Hours of the Altarpieces – additionally accented with gold leaf – makes it clear at first glance that this is an outstanding work of 15th century illumination!

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Libro de Horas de los Retablos
Missal of Fernández de Córdoba
Stundenbuch der Altaraufsätze
Livre d'Heures des Retables
Libro d'Ore dei Retablos
Hours of Madrid
Misal de Fernández de Córdoba
Bréviaire de Fernandez de Cordoue
Les Heures de Madrid
Size / Format
400 pages / 23.0 × 16.0 cm
Origin
France
Date
Third quarter of the 15th century
Language
Illustrations
20 full-page miniatures, 49 calendar miniatures, decorative borders on nearly every page
Content
Liturgy of the Hours, use of Rome
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Fernández de Córdoba
Teresa Fernández de Córdoba y Hoces

Available facsimile editions:
Book of Hours of the Altarpieces – Millennium Liber – Vit. 25-3 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2005
Limited Edition: 550 copies
Detail Picture

Book of Hours of the Altarpieces

Martyrdom of St. John

In this bas-de-page miniature we see the martyrdom of St. John, who was both one of the Four Evangelists and one of the Twelve Apostles, pictured being boiled alive in a vat of oil. With a medieval cityscape in the background, John is depicted as a young man with long, curly blonde hair and holding a chalice as oil is poured over his head. This is a fine specimen of the International Gothic style executed with tremendous artistry, a sophisticated color palette, and gold leaf.

Book of Hours of the Altarpieces – Millennium Liber – Vit. 25-3 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Single Page

Book of Hours of the Altarpieces

Journey and Adoration of the Magi

Although the visit of the Magi was only vaguely described in the Gospel of Matthew, the Christian tradition has greatly elaborated this episode, transforming the wise men into kings as a sign of Christ’s earthly dominion. This masterfully-created miniature not only depicts the typical scene of the Magi presenting their gifts to the Holy Family, but their journey to Bethlehem as well.

Created with rich primary colors and gold leaf, this miniature is remarkable for the artful fall of folds found in the garments, natural posturing of the figures, and use of perspective. To enforce the importance of the three kings, and by extension the Christ child, they are shown travelling with huge entourages including knights dressed in dark armor and a forest of spears.

Book of Hours of the Altarpieces – Millennium Liber – Vit. 25-3 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Libro de Horas de los Retablos

Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2005
Book of Hours of the Altarpieces – Millennium Liber – Vit. 25-3 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain)
Book of Hours of the Altarpieces – Millennium Liber – Vit. 25-3 – Biblioteca Nacional de España (Madrid, Spain) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Millennium Liber – Madrid, 2005
Limited Edition: 550 copies
Binding: Repoussé leather inlaid with gold and cobalt
Commentary: 1 volume by Elisa Ruiz GarcÌa and Julián Martín Abad
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: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
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