Rothschild Hours

Rothschild Hours

Ghent or Bruges (Belgium) — 1510–1520

Stolen by the Nazis, auctioned in 2014 for 13.6 million US dollars: the famous Book of Hours from the Rothschild Collection, illuminated by Gerard Horenbout, Gerard David, and Simon Bening

  1. This codex was the collaboration of some the best illuminators of all time, particularly Gerard Horenbout (ca. 1465 - ca. 1541)

  2. The images have a vivacity and highly naturalistic manner formerly unknown to Flemish book painting

  3. Robbed by the Nazis, returned to the heirs in the 1990s, and auctioned in 2014 by Christie's for $13.6 million

Rothschild Hours

ex Codex Vindobonensis S. n. 2844 Private Collection
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Rothschild Hours

Some of the finest illuminated manuscripts in all of medieval Europe were produced in Flanders ca. 1500. The Rothschild Hours is one of the most splendid books of hours in existence and was the product of a collaboration among some the best illuminators of all time, particularly Gerard Horenbout. Although it contains many of the elements that one would expect in a book of hours such as a calendar, Psalms, various offices, etc. but much of it is rendered in a highly naturalistic manner which was formerly unknown to Flemish book painting. This collaboration among the finest artists of the Late Middle Ages is a highlight in the history of illumination.

Rothschild Hours

The Rothschild Hours belongs among the most beautiful and precious books of hours from the late period of the Livres d’Heures. Little known until the end of World War II, this masterpiece of Flemish book illumination was made in the period between 1510 and 1520 and destined for an unknown person of high rank. Also known as the Rothschild Prayer Book, it is outstanding among the numerous Flemish prayer books from the time between 1480 and 1520, which are all decorated with the highest artistic standards, with a large number of colorful miniatures, fanciful borders, and sumptuous large initials. The text is written in Latin and decorated throughout with countless small, gold ornamented initials. The content of the Rothschild Hours is in line with the tradition of the book of hours, which were made for laymen wishing to recite a variety of prayers in private meditation. The prayer texts were additionally highlighted by illustrations, helping the believer to sink in meditation before a picture while reading in the book. The images of the Rothschild Hours are all from the hands of outstanding artists who made this manuscript a unique example of illumination.

The Masters of the Rothschild Prayer Book

Several masters and probably some assistants who were active in the same workshop participated in the artistic design of the Rothschild Hours, as was the case for nearly all Flemish Books of Hours. It is the shared work of at least five masters about whom personal information cannot be fully traced. The greater part of the larger miniatures derive from Gerard Horenbout from Ghent, the celebrated court painter of Margret, the Austrian Governess in the Low Countries. His figures are full of vivacity and painted in a highly naturalistic manner which was formerly unknown to Flemish book painting. Another, equally large portion, of the manuscript’s illustrations is the work of the Master of the Older Prayer Book of Maximilian I. Its miniatures reveal the artist’s high level of accomplishment and fascinate through the use of perspective and the most minute detail. The figures of the Master of the Prayer Books of around 1500 all obey the same typology and are mostly small and strong, with their hair worn in strands. His miniature depicting the Resurrection of Lazarus shows the strong movement in the face of the resurrected and masterly executed groups of houses surrounded by space-enclosing trees, a clear testimony to his accomplishment. Another illuminator was *Gerard David** or a very skillful pupil of his. This Flemish master was known especially for his panel paintings and excellently drawn figures placed in wonderfully composed landscapes. Finally, two miniatures are attributed to the excellent book painter Simon Bening; they were made in his earlier period and are both of excellent quality.

67 Flemish Miniatures of the Highest Quality

A calendar fills the first six first leaves of the Rothschild Prayer Book showing not only farming scenes throughout the year but also ornamented with numerous medallions of the monthly saints. The calendar is followed by devotions on the face of Christ, votive offices and masses for the days of the week, Gospel pericopes, the Office of the Virgin, the Penitential Psalms and the Memorials of the Saints, the Office of the Dead as well as prayers to the Virgin, Christ, the Angels and the Saints. The script is a regular Latin Textura (Gothic book hand) with numerous abbreviations, written throughout by the same scribe.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Rothschild-Gebetbuch
Rothschild Prayerbook
Size / Format
508 pages / 22.8 × 16.0 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
1510–1520
Language
Script
Gothic
Illustrations
Richly illustrated calendar, 67 full-page miniatures, 5 pages with smaller miniatures, 141 pages with ornamental frames, all together 153 illuminated pages
Content
Liturgy of the Hours, use of the Chartreuse de Dunes, Bruges
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Austrian National Library

Available facsimile editions:
Rothschild Hours – Cod. Vindob. S. N. 2844 – Private Collection
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1979
Limited Edition: 864 copies

Rothschild-Gebetbuch (Deluxe Edition)
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1979
Limited Edition: 864 copies
Detail Picture

Rothschild Hours

Funeral Scene

As a priest reads prayers for the dead, two monks lower a simple wooden coffin into the ground using ropes. The litter with which the coffin was transported stands to the side of the grave, as does the bereaved and the grave diggers, one of whom leans on his shovel. Gold ink has been used judiciously here and thus draws one’s eyes to the cross being held aloft. This mournful scene is full of movement with expressive gestures and incredible detail from the clothing to the architecture.

Rothschild-Gebetbuch (Standard Edition)
Single Page

Rothschild Hours

December: Slaughtering Swine

The calendars of books of hours often depict typical labors of the month and thus offer a precious glimpse of medieval life. Although it is unclear which of the artists who participated in the creation of this manuscript is responsible for it, the calendar of this manuscript betrays a masterful hand.

This composition is painted in an illusionistic manner to make it appear as though it is presented in a wooden frame highlighted with gold. It is filled with numerous medallions of the saints relevant to the month of December with the Capricorn zodiac sign at the top. The bas-de-page miniature depicts the slaughter of a pig in a snowy landscape outside of a castle with remarkable detail, including the collection of the pig’s blood.

Rothschild-Gebetbuch (Standard Edition)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Rothschild-Gebetbuch (Standard Edition)

Rothschild Hours – Cod. Vindob. S. N. 2844 – Private Collection
Rothschild Hours – Cod. Vindob. S. N. 2844 – Private Collection Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Limited Edition: 864 copies
Binding: Red velvet. All folios are cut according to the original.
Commentary: 1 volume (98 pages) by Ernst Trenkler
Language: German
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.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!

#2 Rothschild-Gebetbuch (Deluxe Edition)

Limited Edition: 864 copies
Binding: Red velvet with 10 gilded fittings according to the original. All folios are cut according to the original.
Commentary: 1 volume (98 pages) by Ernst Trenkler
Language: German
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.
Price Category: €€ (1,000€ - 3,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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