Willem Vrelant's masterpiece of the grisaille technique: a uniquely illuminated book of hours for the wife of the Portuguese king

Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor

1470

Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor

Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor

— 1470

  1. This a highlight from the career of the famous master illuminator Willem Vrelant (d. 1481/82)

  2. He minimized the coloring in favor of fine shading and various grey tones that are judiciously highlighted by gold leaf

  3. Originating sometime ca. 1470, it was created for Eleanor of Viseu (1458–1525), Queen Consort of Portugal

Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor

Alternative Titles:
  • Book of Hours of Queen Leonor
  • Rich Hours of Vrelant
  • Riches Heures de Vrelant
  • Stundenbuch der Königin Doña Leonor
Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor  – II.165 BNP – Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal (Lisboa, Portugal)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Willem Vrelant (d. 1481/82) was one of the leading figures of Flemish illumination, which produced some of the finest manuscripts in all of medieval book art. It was created for Queen Eleanor of Portugal (1458–1525) possibly as a wedding present on the occasion of her union with King John II (1455–95). It is a masterpiece of the grisaille technique, which minimized the use of color in favor of fine shading and various grey tones that are in turn highlighted by the judicious use of gold leaf. The Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor, also called As Perfeitíssimas Horas da rainha D. Leonor or “The Perfect Hours of Queen D. Leonor” in English is distinguished by the extreme delicacy of its dense marginal décor consisting of a kaleidoscope of plants, animals, human figures, and creatures of fantasy. It is a work of art worthy of one of the most important queen consorts in the history of the Kingdom of Portugal.

Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor

A fine specimen of 15th century Flemish illumination and a highlight from the career of the famous master illuminator Willem Vrelant (d. 1481/82): the Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor, also called As Perfeitíssimas Horas da rainha D. Leonor or “The Perfect Hours of Queen D. Leonor” in English. It is a jewel of the National Library of Portugal and a masterpiece of the grisaille technique, which minimized the use of color in favor of fine shading and various grey tones that are in turn highlighted by the judicious use of gold leaf. Originating sometime ca. 1470, it was created for Eleanor of Viseu (1458–1525), likely on the occasion of her marriage to Prince John of Portugal (1455–95), who reigned as King John II from 1481–95. Also called the “Perfect Prince”, he reestablished the power of the Portuguese monarchy, reinvigorated the economy, and renewed the exploration of Africa and the Orient. His wife Eleanor was one of the most notable of the queen consorts of Portugal, outliving her husband by 30 years. She maintained an active court life as the wealthy Queen dowager and was also active as a humanitarian, founding the Santa Casa de Misericórdia and other charitable organizations devoted to the poor and orphans. The Queen also introduced the printing press to Portugal. Thus, this work of art is only a part of the dazzling legacy of Queen Eleanor of Portugal.

A Masterpiece from Bruges

The Queen’s book of hours is distinguished by the extreme delicacy of its dense marginal décor, which is never repeated, with highly stylized motifs of plants, animals, human figures, and creatures of fantasy. The color palette consists solely of gray, black and gold, except for the intense blue of the sky in some miniatures. It contains the typical scenes from the Gospels: the Annunciation of Mary, the Annunciation to the shepherds, the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, the Slaughter of the Innocents, the Last Judgment, and the Office of the Dead. The figures are perfectly rendered, as well as the landscapes and architectural frameworks. Miniatures are rendered with a realistic sense of perspective, as one would expect from the highly refined Flemish style. Numerous references to another strong female figure of the Middle Ages, Joan of Arc (ca. 1412–31) can be found through the section containing the Hours of the Virgin. The Latin text is written in an elegant southern Gothic script, and the text pages are also framed by wonderfully intertwined tendrils filled with a variety of marginalia. This masterpiece is still protected by its original binding consisting of brown leather etched with mudéjar motifs.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Book of Hours of Queen Leonor
Rich Hours of Vrelant
Riches Heures de Vrelant
Stundenbuch der Königin Doña Leonor
Date
1470
Language
Artist / School

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor “

Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor
Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor  – II.165 BNP – Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal (Lisboa, Portugal)
Imageof

Libro de Horas de la Reina Doña Leonor

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Circulo Cientifico – Madrid, 2016
Limited Edition
500 copies
Commentary
1 volume by Delmira Espada Custódio, Elisa Ruiz García
Language: Portuguese
More Information
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: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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