Magical miniatures in the grisaille technique by Jean Pucelle: a great masterpiece in small format for the Queen of France

Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Paris (France) — 1325-1328

Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Paris (France) — 1325-1328

  1. Commissioned by King Charles IV of France (1294-1328) as a gift to his wife, Jeanne d'Évreux

  2. Despite the manuscript's small size, the work by Jean Pucelle (ca. 1300-1355) is a masterpiece of the grisaille technique

  3. The book of hours has been the prized possession of Duke Jean of Berry (1340-1416) and the Rothschild family inter alia

Stundenbuch der Jeanne d'Evreux

Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Christ in Majesty

Shown giving the sign of benediction with his right hand while holding a codex and staff with cross in his left, Christ is enthroned and looking directly out at the beholder. He is presented before a leafy blue background surrounded by the Four Evangelist symbols, each holding a banderole. This is a fine example of demi-grisaille and has minimized the color palette, relying heavily on the masterful shading and range of greys created by the miniaturist instead.

Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Alternative Titles:
  • Stundenbuch der Jeanne d'Evreux
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

The Book of Hours of Jeanne d'Èvreux is a true masterpiece of late medieval calligraphy. This fine work was commissioned by King Charles IV of France for his wife, Jeanne d'Èvreux, and was furnished with masterful grisaille paintings by the artist Jean Pucelle. Next to the 25 full-page miniatures, the 700+ fascinating marginal figures that populate the entire manuscript like something from a fantasy world are particularly fascinating. It is a very special masterpiece, considering the small format of only 9 x 6 cm. No wonder that Jean Duc de Berry incorporated this gem into his famous library.

The Book of Hours of Jeanne d'Èvreux

The Book of Hours of Jeanne d'Èvreux is a true masterpiece of late medieval calligraphy. This fine work was commissioned by King Charles IV of France for his wife, Jeanne d'Èvreux, and was furnished with masterful grisaille paintings by the artist Jean Pucelle. Next to the 25 full-page miniatures, the 700+ fascinating marginal figures that populate the entire manuscript like something from a fantasy world are particularly fascinating.

A Kingly Wedding Gift

Charles IV, “the Fair”, commissioned the renowned French miniaturist Jean Pucelle with the task of creating the book of hours for his beloved wife, Jeanne d'Èvreux (1310-1371). The book is most likely either a wedding gift or from the occasion of Charles’ coronation in Reims Cathedral. King Charles, the last Capetian ruler of France, died in 1328, leaving Jeanne a widow. The Book of Hours would end up in the ownership of King Charles V, whose brother, Duke Jean de Berry, was a passionate collector and patron of a multitude of manuscripts. The book was first mentioned in the library of the Duke of Berry*, but suddenly appeared in the **collection of the Rothschild family in 19th century, who would later allow the sale of the item to the Metropolitan Museum, where it safely stored as one of its paramount highlights of its collection to this day keep.

The Art of Grisaille Painting

Upon first glance, one will immediately notice the extensive grey tones that prevail throughout the book of hours. Moreover, the lack of gilded artwork was an intentional design choice by Jeanne d'Èvreux. One must keep in mind that this artistic configuration of the book is a true tour de force! The 25 full-page miniatures, along with the multitude of small figures, initials, and bas-de-page-miniatures, are executed with grisaille technique. Mainly due to the utilization of various grey tones, wonderfully shaded, plastic figures and scenes are distributed throughout the book individually and partially – be it in bright red or blue or in delicate purple or turquoise – colored and really come into their own through this reduced color scale. Jean Pucelle, who had been inspired by other contemporary Italian Trecento painting, erected a truly impressive example of a book that, despite its small size of 9,4 x 6,4 cm, exudes tremendous artistic beauty.

Fantastic Flourish and Spiritual Events

Paired amongst the 29 miniature pages are eight scenes from the childhood and Passion of Christ juxtaposed with the life of much celebrated French King Louis IX, who was an ancestor of Jeanne. Up to the depiction of Christ suffering on Calvary during his Crucifixion, all the scenes are richly imbued with architectural elements in the frames of the pages. The scenes are elaborately painted in detail. A wild bustle takes place around these main scenes: as atlases that carry the frame, initial and marginal figures, bas-de-page miniatures or just somewhere between the lines of the text, precious miniature painting of countless figures and miracles populate the 209 leaves.

Entertaining Variety

There are animals such as monkeys or dogs, people of all classes and classes such as musicians, soldiers, beggars, bishops or virgins, and finally fantastic creatures that seem to have sprung from the wonder world of a Hieronymus Bosch. Wondrous bearded creatures with fish tails and angel wings and hybrids of humans and animals literally romp about the pages. Some of them illustrate the everyday world of the time with games such as jousting or biblical stories like the murder of the innocents in Bethlehem. Others simply offer an entertaining change in addition to the liturgical texts and prayers that have been uniformly put on a very thin, almost transparent parchment by a master scribe.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Stundenbuch der Jeanne d'Evreux
Size / Format
418 pages / 9.0 x 6.0 cm
Date
1325-1328
Style
Gothic
Language
Illustrations
25 full-page miniatures, approx. 700 decorative marginal figures
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Stundenbuch der Jeanne d'Evreux

Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Christ Carrying the Cross

This demi-grisaille miniature is a unique depiction of this common scene from the Passion of the Christ. This style deemphasizes color in favor of shading, and aside from the blue, diamond-patterned background, the composition relies upon varying shades of grey, save for the beard of the man who helps Christ support the weight of the cross.

The scene is presented in an architectural frame reminiscent of a Gothic cathedral, but there are specific connections to Strasbourg Cathedral, namely the crouching figure with a hammer to the left of the bas-de-page miniature. He bears a strong resemblance to a depiction in Strasbourg’s tympanum depicting the wife of the man who forged the nails used to crucify Christ, and is now weighed down by guilt.

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux“

Stundenbuch der Jeanne d'Evreux
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux – Acc., No.54.1.2 – Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)
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Stundenbuch der Jeanne d'Evreux

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Faksimile Verlag – Luzern, 1998
Limited Edition
980 copies
Binding
Leather binding with elaborated gold and blind embossing and two clasps
Commentary
1 volume by Barbara Drake Boehm, Abigail Quandt and William D. Wixom
Languages: English, German
Regular price without login (like new)1,790 €
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