Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair

Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair

Bruges / Ghent (Belgium) — 1486–1496

Practically all 850 pages are illuminated in the Flemish style: an extensive and enchanting book of hours for the Queen of Castile

  1. This outstanding treasure of late-15th century Flemish illumination originated from a royal commission

  2. Two portraits of Queen Joanna I (1479–1555) inter alia confirm that the manuscript was commissioned by or for her

  3. This is one of the most densely and masterfully illuminated codices, practically all 850 pages are adorned

Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair

The Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair is an outstanding treasure of late–15th century Flemish illumination: originating from a royal commission, the manuscript is decorated with references to its owner all around – escutcheons, devises, and even portraits. The exuberant illumination consisting of 800+ miniatures was fashioned by no less a figure than the famous Master of the David Scenes from the Breviarium Grimani!

Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair

Joanna I of Castile (1479–1555), also known as Joanna the Mad, lived a turbulent and fateful life. As the daughter of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, she inherited the crowns of Aragon and Castile and according to legend found her great love in Philip the Fair, the only son of Emperor Maximilian I. The two were married in the year 1496. Nevertheless, after Philip’s sudden death, Joanna’s rule was plagued by political intrigue and psychological problems and she spent the last years of her life imprisoned in Tordesillas with the epithet the Mad.

Numerous Personal References to the Queen

The Hours of Joanna I of Castile is an impressive testimonial to her faith. The precious manuscript was made in a size typical for a private devotional book of this kind, only measuring 11 x 8 cm. It probably originated in Bruges ca. 1486–1506. That the book of hours was personally tailored to Joanna and was thus probably commissioned by herself or received as a gift is indicated by a few references. Thus, one finds inter alia two wonderful pages with portraits of the Queen in the manuscript. For example, one of these depictions shows her immersed in prayer before the open book, behind her are John the Baptist and a guardian angel. This portrait is surrounded by escutcheons and mottos and presents Joanna’s initials interconnected with those of her husband Philip the Fair.

The Mysterious Master

Yet, these portraits are only two of 83 full-page miniatures altogether among the manuscript’s 800+ visual depictions. These are gorgeously prepared, extremely high quality, and show lively figures amidst a Flemish-style landscape and surroundings. Not only do the primary miniatures deserve a closer look, but also and especially the frames with their richly diverse designs because every detail is loaded with tremendous importance. The outstanding artist who created this splendor is the so-called Master of the David Scenes of the Breviarium Grimani, a mysterious miniaturist who has been named among the greatest artists of the time in research, like e.g. Hans Memling or Simon Bening.

Something Unusual in the Text

Nonetheless, not only is the artistic décor of the small royal devotional book special, but idiosyncrasies also appear in the text, inter alia a few less-common religious and liturgical texts. Following the calendar with typical depictions of the course of the farming year and zodiac signs is the so-called Speculum conscientie with the text of the Ten Commandments, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Cardinal Virtues, and other parts of the catechism.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Hours of Joanna I of Castile
Hours of Joanna the Mad
Size / Format
850 pages / 11.0 × 8.0 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
1486–1496
Style
Language
Script
Gothic Textura
Illustrations
844 miniatures illuminated with gold; 83 full-page miniatures; 767 bizarre figures, as well as 767 beautiful flowers, birds and insects illustrations
Content
Various texts on faith including those on the Ten Commandments, the Seven Mortal Sins, the Articles of the Faith, the Five Senses, the Seven Acts of Mercy, the Theological Virtues, the Cardinal Virtues, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the Sacramen
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair

Available facsimile editions:
Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair
 – Add Ms. 18852 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2016
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Detail Picture

Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair

Bas-de-page Drollery

One of the finest features of this manuscript is its marginal décor, which is filled with flowers, insects, birds, and drolleries – animal-human hybrids that are typically comical and allegorical in nature. This figure is human from the waste up and holding a cudgel over its head, but it has the body of a lion and the wings of a dragon. It appears to be wearing a red shirt with golden ring mail with yellow sleeves and a blue hood. One is left wondering what this drollery is about to strike.

Las Muy Ricas Horas de Juana I de Castilla
Single Page

Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair

Virgin Lactans

This miniature has been created by a masterful hand with all the detail of a panel painting because it is modelled on a work by the great Rogier van der Weyden. The serene baby Jesus opens his lips to suckle and looks as though he just awoke from a nap. Golden rays emanate from Madonna and child, and gold highlights her blue robe and the brocade sleeves of her dress.

The Virgin Mary is depicted with strawberry blonder hair, pursed pink lips, and large eyes that are turned downward at her child. Her face is contemplative and focused, as is the scene overall. The subjects fill the frame and leave little room for the interior space in which they sit or the landscape in the background, only a suggestion of which is given through the window.

Las Muy Ricas Horas de Juana I de Castilla
Facsimile Editions

#1 Las Muy Ricas Horas de Juana I de Castilla

Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2016
Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair
 – Add Ms. 18852 – British Library (London, United Kingdom)
Hours of Joanna I of Castile and Philip the Fair – Add Ms. 18852 – British Library (London, United Kingdom) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2016
Limited Edition: 500 copies
Binding: True to the original red silk-velvet binding with four corner pieces and a broad clasp in bronze, plated with 24kt gold. Leather Book Box
Commentary: 2 volumes by Eberhard König with introduction by Dr. Scot McKendrick
Language: Spanish, English
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Real 22.5kt gold leaf was used for all the miniatures in this individually-notarized fine art facsimile
Price Category: €€€€€ (over 10,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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