Savoy Hours

Savoy Hours

Paris (France) — 1334–1348 and 1370–1378

Inspiring Jean Duc de Berry's love of books: 26 preserved, magnificently illuminated sheets of the masterpiece for the Countess of Savoy that burned in 1904

  1. This manuscript originated in two parts by Jean Pucelle (ca. 1300–55) and the Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy

  2. Made for Blanche of Burgundy (1295–1326), Countess of Savoy and granddaughter of King Louis IX of France (1214–70)

  3. Made for Blanche of Burgundy (1295–1326), Countess of Savoy and granddaughter of King Louis IX of France (1214–70)

Savoy Hours

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Savoy Hours

As an enchanting book of hours with particularly rich furnishings, the Savoy Hours had a style-forming effect in the history of book illumination and significantly advanced the development of the book genre as a template. It assembles 50 miniatures framed by quatrefoils and 106 historiated initials on its 52 pages, which enchant the beholder with slender figures in front of picturesque backgrounds. The manuscript in two sections was commissioned by Blanka of Burgundy (1295–1326) in the 1330’s. The first part was probably made between 1334 and 1348 by the successor of the workshop of the famous Parisian book painter Jean Pucelle (ca. 1300-ca. 1334), and the second part was added between 1370 and 1378 by the Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy.

Savoy Hours

Although only a small part of the once very comprehensive Savoy Hours is extant after almost 600 years, it fascinates the beholder with its princely illumination. The precious manuscript originated in two parts: the first part was probably made between 1334 and 1348 by the successor of the workshop of the famous Parisian book painter Jean Pucelle (ca. 1300-ca. 1334), and the second part was added between 1370 and 1378 by the **Master of the Bible of Jean de Sy. Its 50 surviving miniatures and 106 historiated initials allows us to surmise how complex and inventive the book of hours for private devotion, which was composed in Latin and French, once was.

Marvelous Scenes in Tasteful Frames

It can be assumed that the Savoy Hours were furnished with 187 miniatures and 24 calendar vignettes of a very large format. An impression of this opulence is already apparent in the remaining 52 pages with picturesque depictions of fine figures in front of creative backgrounds. A tricolor quatrefoil surrounds the miniature in each case so that they become small paintings, which additionally explain the text for the reader. These masterpieces correspond to original colored pen drawings of drolleries and small birds, which artfully play around the text.

Early Portrait Painting

In the 1330’s, Blanche of Burgundy (1295–1326), the Countess of Savoy and the granddaughter of King Louis IX of France, commissioned the unique book of hours. She had herself depicted 25 times in the surviving 50 miniatures alone. In one place she appears kneeling gracefully before a saint, and in another she appears on the same level as him. What is astonishing about these portraits is the particularly fine rendering of the feminine features of her face.

Style-Forming Effect for French Gothic Illumination

The diverse Savoy Hours has not only shaped our perception of the French Gothic, but also had a great influence on the development of illumination and the book of hours itself. When Charles VI gifted the manuscript in 1409 to his uncle John, Duke of Berry (1340–1416), it aroused a passion for precious books in him. It is supposed that the book of hours had a great influence on the works that he himself later commissioned (Petites-, Très Belles-, and Très Riches Heures inter alia).

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Savoy Stundenbuch
Size / Format
52 pages / 20.1 × 14.7 cm
Origin
France
Date
1334–1348 and 1370–1378
Style
Script
Gothic Textualis
Illustrations
50 miniatures, 106 decorated initials
Artist / School
Previous Owners
King Charles V
Jean, duc de Berry

Available facsimile editions:
Savoy Hours – Beinecke MS 390 – Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (New Haven, USA)
Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Lucerne, 2018
Limited Edition: 680 copies
Detail Picture

Savoy Hours

Portrait of John the Evangelist

Flanked by his symbolic eagle, John’s red tunic and blue cloak have a stylized fall of folds and exposes his bare feet. He holds a stylus in one hand and a pen knife in the other and is depicted as a beardless youth – such feminized depictions were possibly intended to make him more relatable to women, especially in works like this intended for female patrons. The scene is presented before a patterned tendril background within a quatrefoil frame of gold, red, white, and blue.

Savoy Hours
Single Page

Savoy Hours

Blanche Kneeling Before the Trinity

The patron, Blanche of Burgundy, is pictured 25 times in this manuscript praying to various figures within a quatrefoil, which in this case is blue, white, and red. Along with the text, it is in turn framed by a Gothic bar border with ivy leaves, grotesques, birds, a dragonfly, and a rabbit. The image is dominated by expensive red and blue paints, as well as gold leaf.

The background is patterned with her heraldic devices – the royal fleur-de-lys and the Burgundian “bendy of six, or and azure, a bordure gules”. The graceful figures of the miniature have delicate faces, fine contours, harmonious proportions, and elegant gestures. The trinity is represented by God the Father holding up the crucified Jesus with a dove representing the Holy Spirit.

Savoy Hours
Facsimile Editions

#1 Savoy Hours

Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Lucerne, 2018
Savoy Hours – Beinecke MS 390 – Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (New Haven, USA)
Savoy Hours – Beinecke MS 390 – Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (New Haven, USA) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Quaternio Verlag Luzern – Lucerne, 2018
Limited Edition: 680 copies
Binding: Morocco leather with rich gold tooling Luxury book case
Commentary: 1 volume by Raymond Clemens and Roger S. Wieck
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: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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