Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94

Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94

Bruges (Belgium) — ca. 1500

Flowers, fruits, and gemstones: a Flemish masterpiece from three unknown masters

  1. This small, splendid codex is the work of three anonymous Flemish masters from ca. 1500

  2. The 39 full-page miniatures resemble panel paintings embellished with gold leaf

  3. Flowers, fruits, animals, insects, and gemstones populate the miniature and calendar pages

Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94

The Book of Hours from Bruges originates from Bruges at the end of the 15th century or beginning of the 16th century. Three talented illuminators illustrated the manuscript, which is collected in a hand-sized codex. The work contains 39 full-page illustrations, numerous golden miniatures, and astonishingly realistic bordures that adorn the page margins.

The Book of Hours from Bruges

In the Middle Ages, Flanders was a stronghold of manuscript book art. Nowhere else was there such a great density of talented masters. The illustrated codices from Belgium were coveted across all of Europe and served the masters from other regions as examples. The particularity of Flemish illumination is that the miniatures have as monumental of an effect as paintings. The miniature painters were guided in their labor by the artistic works of the Old Dutch Masters, Rogier van der Weyden for example. As a consequence, every miniature became its own small work of art. A special treasure of Flemish illumination is the so-called Book of Hours from Bruges. The work is a small handbook containing 39 full-page miniatures, which are exceedingly embellished with gold. The pages of text were ennobled through the use of gold initials framed with imaginative bordures.

A Mysterious Codex

It is not known exactly who is responsible for the genesis of the Flemish book of hours. Judging by the illustrations, three illuminators are possible, their names are nonetheless unknown. A specific commissioner for the book can also not be determined today. To be sure, the expensive decoration of the codex indicates a wealthy recipient. Books of hours were beloved first and foremost by the nobility in the Middle Ages. In particular, the French nobility coveted the private prayer books, which they used for prayer and meditation at specific times a day. French dukes obtained their valuable codices almost exclusively from Belgium.

Three Flemish Masters

The Book of Hours from Bruges originates from Flanders at the end of the 15th century or beginning of the 16th century. Three gifted masters worked on it together, unfortunately none of their names are known. One artist embellished the text of the work, which is contained in fine French Gothic calligraphy. He produced hundreds of initials, all designed in polished gold. The second artist illustrated 24 stylish calendar sheets. The third artist added bordures with an immeasurable variety of patterns to the pages. The colorful, vivid bordures show flowers, fruits, animals, insects, and valuable gemstones. The depictions were illustrated with great exactness and passion for detail so that they seem almost tangible.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Book of Hours from Bruges
Stundenbuch aus Brügge
Heures de Bruges
Size / Format
490 pages / 9.3 × 7.3 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
ca. 1500
Language
Script
Gothic
Illustrations
39 full-page miniatures, numerous flowers, animals and drolleries
Content
Liturgy of the Hours with calendar
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94 – Vat. Ross. 94 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1996
Limited Edition: 900 copies

Stundenbuch aus Brügge
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1983
Detail Picture

Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94

June: Shearing Sheep

The wool trade gave rise to proto-industries uniting regions of Europe as distant as Scotland and Tuscany, with the Low Countries being the center of the network. Shearing sheep was often done in June, and as such it is featured in this bas-de-page miniature as the labor of the month. A sheep lies calmly on a deep blue blanket before a man kneeling on the ground with a wide-brimmed straw hat and sheers as he puts wool into a large basket, next to which a woman stands holding the next sheep.

Stundenbuch aus Brügge
Single Page

Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94

Adoration of the Magi

One of the most popular scenes from the Life of Christ presented in an unusual manner, namely with regard to the Magi themselves. Usually depicted as old men with long beards and crowns or exotic oriental hats, here they are depicted as young Renaissance princes. They are clean shaven with haircuts and fashionable clothes befitting young noblemen ca. 1500.

These decisions were likely made by the artist for stylistic reasons, which would explain why the guiding star that is so crucial to their story is neglected. The scene is depicted in the day, presumably to allow for the artful depiction of the clouds in the sky. All of this is contained within a golden frame filled with flowers, insects, and birds that is exemplary for the period.

Stundenbuch aus Brügge
Facsimile Editions

#1 Stundenbuch aus Brügge

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1996
Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94 – Vat. Ross. 94 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94 – Vat. Ross. 94 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1996
Limited Edition: 900 copies
Binding: Leather, presented in a case with the commentary volume
Commentary: 1 volume by Luigi Michelini Tocci and Angelika Hocke-Asam
Language: German
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: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Stundenbuch aus Brügge

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1983

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1983
Binding: Leather
Commentary: 1 volume by Luigi Michelini Tocci
Language: German
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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