Rohan Hours

Rohan Hours – AyN Ediciones – Ms. Lat. 9471 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)

Paris or Angers (France) — 1430–1435

Revolutionized medieval book illumination: the first book of hours with full-page miniatures, lavishly embellished with masterful illuminations by the Rohan Master on every page

  1. The first book of hours to feature full-page miniatures broke with the strict rules of medieval composition

  2. The unbelievably talented Rohan Master and his assistants were responsible for its precious design

  3. The work boasts at least one miniature on each of its 460+ pages, including 12 full-page miniatures

Rohan Hours

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Rohan Hours

The Rohan Hours is one of the most astounding books of hours that was ever created in the history of French illumination. It was the first book of hours in the world to feature full-page miniatures and broke with the strict rules of composition for medieval books of hours. It was produced in Paris sometime between 1430 and 1435. The unbelievably talented Rohan Master was responsible for its precious design, along with other no-less-talented assistants from his art studio. The Grandes Heures de Rohan is astounding not only because of its incredible variety and revolutionary image program, but equally so because of its dynamic and mysterious history of ownership.

Rohan Hours

The Rohan Hours is an outstanding illuminated manuscript that can look back on an incomparable history. To this day, parts of its origin- and ownership-history remain a riddle of historical research. What is known about this codex is that it is a private prayer and devotional book. The Rohan Hours certainly disregarded the strict rules of composition for medieval books of hours and reinvented this book genre. Its pictorial program differs from all previous image cycles, integrates novel themes, and distinguishes itself through a fantastic wealth of ideas. The exceedingly-richly-ornamented work, written in Latin, boasts at least one miniature on each of its over 460 pages. Found among them are 12 full-page, 54 half-page, and 466 mid-sized miniatures.

A Commission of the House of Anjou?

The book of hours bears the name of a later owner from the House of Rohan. The ruling house of Rohan was an important Breton noble family, after which the palaces in Paris and Strasbourg were named, as well as the noble horsemen in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The manuscript was most likely commissioned by a member of another famous noble house. Since no written records exist concerning the origin of the book of hours, its patronage can be determined through the consideration of similar codices. In doing so, it points to Jolanthe of Aragón, the wife of Louis II of Anjou, who had the personal prayer book made for one of his sons, presumably for René. The ruling family of Anjou, one of the wealthiest noble houses in all of France, was known for its love of the visual arts and realized some of the most precious illuminated manuscripts, which originate from the Middle Ages.

A Moving Story

The coat of arms of the Rohan family entered the codex when it was painted over one of the pages of the book of hours, thus giving the Rohan Hours its name. Its first owner was presumably the son of Jolanthe of Aragón, René of Anjou. He was defeated in 1431 at the Battle of Bulgnéville by Antoine de Vaudémont, the father of Maria of Lothringen, who was married to Alain IX de Rohan. René of Anjou was taken prisoner in the confusion of the battle, and the precious Rohan Hours could have come into the possession of the House of Rohan as part of the imposed ransom. How long the Hours remained in the possession of the Rohan family cannot be said with certainty. A note on the first page of the manuscript verifies that in the 18th century, it was stored in a Jesuit library in Paris. Later, it came into the possession of the Duke de La Vallière, from whose collection it reached the Royal Library. The successor to which is the French National Library in Paris, wherein the historically significant book of hours is still to be found today.

A Unique Artistic Diversity

Without a doubt, several French masters participated in the design of the astounding book of hours. Some miniatures originate from the quill of the incomprehensibly-talented, so-called Rohan Master. This artist produced the impressive full-page depictions as well as some of the smaller miniatures of the work. He was equally responsible for the outlining of the figures and backgrounds of most of the other likenesses in the work, whose colorful design was taken over by the assistants from his art studio. The half-page miniatures were made by a no-less-gifted, ingenious illuminator, who was probably a talented student of the Rohan Master. The remaining embellishments of the work, which are highly diverse in their design, were entrusted to additional assistants of the head designer. For the first time in history, the hand-written book of hours featured miniatures that filled an entire page. The widely-varying image program shows not only the remaining pictorial-scenes from the Office of the Virgin Mary, the Intercession, and the Office of the Dead. Twelve Labors of the Month accompanying a calendar are particularly impressive and are characterized by the excitement of the time, and the signs of the zodiac appear above them almost like unholy signs floating in the sky.


Alternative Titles
Grandes Horas de Rohan
Grandes Heures de Rohan
Grand Hours of Rohan
Size / Format
478 pages / 29.0 × 21.0 cm
Every page shows at least one miniature and golden borders. Alltogether 537 miniatures (12 full-page, 54 half-page and 471 medium-sized)
Liturgy of the Hours
Probably Yolande of Aragon (1380–1443), wife of Duke Louis II of Anjou (1377 –1417)
Artist / School
Previous Owners
René d’Anjou (1409–80)
Isabella Stuart (1426–94), Duchess of Brittany
John II, Viscount of Rohan (1452–1516)
Louis César de La Baume Le Blanc, Duke of La Vallière (1708 –80)
French Royal Library

Available facsimile editions:
Rohan Hours – AyN Ediciones – Ms. Lat. 9471 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
AyN Ediciones – Madrid, 2006
Limited Edition: 995 copies
Detail Picture

Rohan Hours

God as a Medieval King

With a crown, halo, and visage of a wise old medieval king, God gazes upon a dead man with an expression of deep compassion. He holds a golden globus cruciger in his left hand while couching a silver sword in his right arm, which he holds with two fingers wrapped around the crossguard. A demon attempts to abscond with the dead man’s soul but is intercepted by the Archangel Michael, who grabs the demon by the hair and prepares to strike with his sword as more angels appear in the background.

Rohan Hours – AyN Ediciones – Ms. Lat. 9471 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Single Page

Rohan Hours

Lamentation of the Virgin

The full-page miniature at hand is perhaps the most iconic artwork created by the Rohan Master, so-called for embellishing the famous book of hours at hand. It is unusual because this archetypal scene typically portrays the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, but instead it is her limp body that must be held up by John the Apostle, who looks up with dismay at the sorrowful face of God as he tries vainly to console her.

God’s halo exceeds the frame of the miniature as though he just stuck his head into the scene from Heaven. The night-blue sky is filled with stars and the wings of angels. Christ’s naked body lies on the ground spattered with blood – the wounds on his hands, feet, and side are all visible and the crown of thorns remains on his head.

Rohan Hours – AyN Ediciones – Ms. Lat. 9471 – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Grandes Horas de Rohan

AyN Ediciones – Madrid, 2006

Publisher: AyN Ediciones – Madrid, 2006
Limited Edition: 995 copies
Binding: Leather binding with fine gold embossing
Commentary: 1 volume (377 pages) by Ana Domínguez Rodríguez, Elisa Ruiz Garcia, Gregorio Solera, and Javier Docampo
Language: Spanish
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: €€€
(3,000€ - 7,000€)
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