Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, painted by Jean Bourdichon: an exhilarating example of the French golden age of illumination

Officium Beatae Virginis

Officium Beatae Virginis

Officium Beatae Virginis

  1. Jean Bourdichon (1457/59–1521), who apprenticed with Jean Fouquet (1420–81), created this splendid book of hours

  2. He worked at the behest of Louis IX (1423–83), Charles VIII (1470–98), Louis XII (1462–1515), and Francis I (1494–1547)

  3. The manuscript belonged to Pope Pius VII (1742–1823) and is one of the finest specimens of a book of hours dedicated to the Virgin Mary

Officium Beatae Virginis

Alternative Titles:
  • Officium Beatae Virginis - Cod. Cavense 47
Officium Beatae Virginis – Cod. Cavense 47 – Biblioteca Statale del Monumento Nazionale della Badia (Cava de' Tirreni, Italy)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

A fine specimen of the golden age of French illumination: the Officium Beatae Virginis from the hand of the great master Jean Bourdichon (1457/59–1521). Bourdichon was one of the leading artists of his day and favorite of the French royal court, completing commissions for high ranking officials and members of the royal family, including four French kings. In this splendid book of hours from around the turn of the 16th century, the Little Office of Our Lady, a cycle of psalms, hymns, scripture, and other readings forming a liturgical devotion to the Virgin Mary, takes center stage. The text is adorned with the detailed miniatures and lavish frames one would expect from one of the greatest representatives of medieval art. Such is the quality of the adornment that it was the personal possession of Pope Pius VII (1742–1823) before making its way to Cava Abbey in southern Italy, where it resides today.

Officium Beatae Virginis

The book of hours, a prayer book consisting of the prayers to be recited at predetermined hours throughout the day and night, was the most popular book genre of the Late Middle Ages and more of these codices have survived to the present than any other. This French book of hours, the Officium Beatae Virginis emerged around the turn of the 16th century, when French illumination was enjoying a golden age. It originated from one of the greatest representatives of that artistic epoch, Jean Bourdichon (1457/59–1521), who learned his trade as an apprentice to Jean Fouquet (1420–81), the preeminent French painter of the 15th century. Both were from Tours and both were favored artists at the French royal court, completing commissions at the behest of high court officials and members of the royal family. Bourdichon enjoyed a long and productive career, creating works of art for kings Louis IX (1423–83), Charles VIII (1470–98), Louis XII (1462–1515), and Francis I (1494–1547). This splendid manuscript features masterful miniatures set in wide, richly embellished frames rendered in an incredible color palette and represents one of the finest specimens of a book of hours dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Hours of the Virgin

Also known as the Little Office of Our Lady, it is a cycle of psalms, hymns, scripture, and other readings forming a liturgical devotion to the Virgin Mary. It originated around the mid–8th century and serves as a supplement to the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours, which consists of the official prayers “marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer”. Already common by the end of the first millennium, multiple versions emerged in the years to follow. These prayers were often lavishly decorated and presented in a book of hours like the one here at hand and were usually created for the personal use of wealthy laymen. The Hours of the Virgin often appear alongside the Divine Office, but take center stage in the manuscript at hand.

Journey to Cava Abbey

La Trinità della Cava is a Benedictine abbey located in a gorge in the province of Salerno, Italy founded by St. Alferius (930–1050) in the year 1011. However, the abbey’s roots go back even deeper, both historically and literally because hermits had been living in the caves of the area since the 980’s. The abbey’s buildings were updated at the end of the 18th century and continue to exist in their sublime baroque style today. Our Officium Beatae Virginis is counted among the most prized possessions of La Trinità della Cava, and has called the abbey home since the 19th century. The whereabouts of the manuscript during the first few centuries of its existence remain unknown, but between 1840 and 1844, the codex was acquired by a certain Abbot Marincola for the private library of Pope Pius VII (1742–1823). The coveted codex was thereafter transferred to the possession of the abbey where it is housed as a special gem of their collections today.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Officium Beatae Virginis - Cod. Cavense 47

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Officium Beatae Virginis“

Officium Beatae Virginis - Cod. Cavense 47
Officium Beatae Virginis – Cod. Cavense 47 – Biblioteca Statale del Monumento Nazionale della Badia (Cava de' Tirreni, Italy)
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Officium Beatae Virginis - Cod. Cavense 47

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Editalia – Rome
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: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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