Geert Groote - Getijdenboek

Geert Groote - Getijdenboek – Orbis Pictus – Rps 83/I – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)

Utrecht (Netherlands) — Mid 15th century

A calendar, Geert Groote's Getijdenboek, and the growing influence of the Renaissance: a prayer book in the language of Central Holland with imaginative décor on almost every page

  1. This codex contains an annual calendar and a transcript of the Getijdenboek by the Dutchman Geert Groote (1340–1384)

  2. Nearly every page is adorned with colored, gilded initials, floral bordures, and figural decorative elements

  3. These special elements of décor show the influence of Renaissance art on the illuminators

Geert Groote - Getijdenboek

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Geert Groote - Getijdenboek

One of the most valuable calendars of the Middle Ages originated from the Netherlands in the mid–15th century. It is the calendar of the Diocese of Utrecht. Aside from an annual calendar, it also contains a transcript of the Getijdenboek, a manuscript by the Dutch theologian and preacher Geert Groote. Every page of the manuscript is adorned with colored and sometimes gilded initials, as well as splendid floral bordures and figural decorative elements.

Geert Groote – Getijdenboek

Historic annual calendars rarely limited themselves to a pure depiction of the course of the year, but rather gave information about the season-dependent activities, the weather conditions expected in the course of the year gives the best day for the cutting of hair, bathing, bleeding, weaning, etc. In Christianity, the term calendar indicates an official directory for church feasts and commemoration days. In the Middle Ages, the calendar reached the broadest levels of the population in a way that few other types of reading material had and were always used for practical and economical use, but also as edifying and moral instruction. The Getijdenboek by the Dutchman Geert Groote was made for the Utrecht Diocese and is one of the most beautiful examples of this manuscript genre. Practically every page of the parchment manuscript illuminated with gorgeously colored and gilded initials, as well as floral and figurative patterns. Today, the precious original specimen of the work is in the university library of Nicolaus Copernicus in the Polish city of Torun.

The Gifted Author Geert Groote

Geert Groote was a Dutch theologian and preacher of repentance. He was born the son of the wealthy merchant Werner Grote and his wife Heylwig van der Basselen. Both of his parents died of plague when he was ten years old. Orphaned at an early age, he attended the chapter school of the Utrecht Hochstift and at the age of 15 began his studies at the Sarbonne in Paris, where he came into contact with the great philosophers and scholars of his time. He was particularly influenced by the writings of the famous medieval preacher and mystic Bernard of Clairvaux. Groote led a dissolute life in his youth. Moved by a meeting with Heinrich von Calcar, a close friend and Carthusian monk, he decided one day for a pious and virtuous life in a monastery in Dutch Arnhem. Here the educated and well-read monk inter alia made his handwritten calendar for the Diocese of Utrecht.

Enchanting Illumination

The Utrecht calendar consists of two book parts, which were combined by a scribe in the mid–15th century. The second part of the work is a transcript of the Getijdenboek by Groote, the first part contains the annual calendar. The uniform script of the original work is still easily legible today. Each page is adorned with unique, stunningly colored and gilded initials. The borders of the pages are furnished with elaborate bordures of flowering tendrils and figurative patterns. These special elements of décor clearly show the influence of Renaissance illumination, which the anonymous illuminators were guided by in their work. The binding of the manuscript is equally characteristic for the time period. It consists of dark-brown leather embossed with a pattern as well as two brass clasps, which protect the pages of the book from dust and dirt.


Alternative Titles
Brewiarz Staroniderlandzki
Kalendarium der Diozöse Utrecht
Size / Format
258 pages / 20.0 × 14.5 cm
Mid 15th century
Almost each page has unique and very beautifully colored and gilded initials, as well as borders with floral and figural decorations
Artist / School
Previous Owners
National and University Library in Królewiec

Available facsimile editions:
Geert Groote - Getijdenboek – Orbis Pictus – Rps 83/I – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)
Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2008
Limited Edition: 199 copies
Detail Picture

Geert Groote – Getijdenboek

Marginalia with Drolleries

Many medieval artists indulged their creativity in the margins of the manuscripts they created, an artistic space in which they were given free reign. The marginalia of this page is ripe with giant bunches of grapes and animals both real and fantastic. A fat bear can be seen feasting in the corner, but below him we see a strange hybrid creature, a so-called drollery. Its pink front half resembles a dragon, complete with a horned head, but its rear half appears to be that of a common ox.

Geert Groote - Getijdenboek – Orbis Pictus – Rps 83/I – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)
Single Page

Geert Groote - Getijdenboek

Angelic Text Page

This exemplary page from Geert Groote’s book of hours is a fine example of 15th century Dutch illumination, and these decorative borders are found throughout this wonderful manuscript. Various angels with round cheeks, serene expressions, and outstretched wings populate the marginalia. Their torsos appear from blue clouds, as though they are breaking through into our mortal plane.

This page’s tendrils alternate between succulent bunches of grapes and leaves of green and gold – the harvest is nigh. Delicate shades of pink and blue are incorporated throughout the page, especially the frame, which is broken up on the upper-left side to allow room for the blue and gold initial. Halos and initials in the text are highlighted with gold leaf.

Geert Groote - Getijdenboek – Orbis Pictus – Rps 83/I – Biblioteka Uniwersytecka Mikołaj Kopernik w Toruniu (Toruń, Poland)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Brewiarz Staroniderlandzki

Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2008

Publisher: Orbis Pictus – Pelplin, 2008
Limited Edition: 199 copies
Binding: Embossed leather with two brass clasps. Comes in wooden box with jute padding
Commentary: 1 volume
Languages: English, Polish
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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