Fascinatingly lively and rich in detail: bright flowers, insects, and birds on almost every side of this masterpiece by Simon Bening

Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours

Bruges and Ghent (Belgium) — 1520-1525

Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours

Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours

Bruges and Ghent (Belgium) — 1520-1525

  1. One of the greatest works by Simon Bening (ca. 1483-1561) depicts flowers of every kind in detail

  2. The accompanying insects and birds appear incomparably plastic and realistic

  3. Almost every page of the private devotional and prayer book is illustrated in this way with full-page miniatures

Blumen-Stundenbuch von Simon Bening (Deluxe Edition)

Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours

Singing a Hymn

As three priests wearing splendid cloth of gold brocade vestments kneel and bow at the altar with a folding triptych, a choir of men and boys can be seen singing behind them. They are huddled around a lectern with a gradual, a medieval songbook whose notation was written large enough to be seen from a distance, as it is here. One man in light blue is looking out at the beholder with his mouth open in mid-song, almost as though we had just walked in and were about to interrupt the service.

Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours

Alternative Titles:
  • Blumen-Stundenbuch von Simon Bening
  • Blumenstundenbuch von Simon Bening
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

Sometime in the time period from 1520 to 1525, the famous Flemish book artist, Simon Bening, created one of his greatest works, namely the so-called Flowers Book of Hours. He completed the illuminated manuscript in his workshops in Ghent and Bruges and furnished it with incomparable full-page miniatures and marginal decoration on each page of text. The variety of forms of design that Bening chose for the private prayer book is impressive. The decorative pattern of buds and flowers of every kind, of depictions of small birds and insects appear incomparably plastic and realistic.

Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours

The so-called Flowers Book of Hours is not only one of the most beautiful and splendid masterpieces by the famous illuminator Simon Bening, it is simultaneously counted among the most valuable illuminated manuscripts that was ever made. The religious text of the work is designed according to the internationally available pattern of medieval books of hours. It begins with a calendar, followed by an introductory prayer and excerpts from the four Gospels. Further textual components are an Office of the Virgin, Office of the Dead, as well as penitential Psalms and prayers to high saints. The manuscript displays an incomparable variety of various design patterns. Nearly every page of the private devotional and prayer book is artistically illustrated. Alongside 70 enchanting full-page miniatures, the manuscript contains over 300 pages with uniquely plastic decorations from patterns of plants and animals.

The Flemish Master of Book Art

Simon Bening, son of the miniaturist Alexander Bening, was born in the Belgian city of Bruges ca. 1483. He learned the craft of illumination in the workshop of his father. During his education, he became familiar with the works of great book-artists like Gerard Horenbout, with whom he would produce the greatest illuminated manuscripts of the Netherlands a few years later. Bening began to work independently from 1500 on and in was accepted into the illuminators’ guild of Bruges in 1508. That was a privilege that was awarded to only the most gifted masters of the discipline. By 1525 at the latest, Simon Bening was the undisputed star of the illumination scene in the Late Middle Ages. The Portuguese diplomat and humanist Damião de Góis named him “the best master of book illustration in all of Europe”. His handmade, unique illuminated manuscripts are kept safe in the most-renowned museums worldwide.

Unmistakable Illumination

The Flowers Book of Hours has, for several reasons, a unique and unrivalled position in the history of medieval manuscripts. For a start, there is no other work of this kind that effectively contains decorations on every page of text. Colorful patterns in an unending variety of designs and lavish gold adornment beam across from the beholder on every page. Equally astounding is the manner in which Simon Bening interpreted his artistic examples in his painting. He experimented with the most varied models in his miniatures, from panel paintings from the Old Dutch painter Hugo van der Goes to the engravings of the of the copperplate engraver and painter Martin Schongauer. He modified these masterful examples unbelievably creatively in his own pictures, combining them with new artistic ideas and expanded them with unmistakable individual motifs.

The Charming and Creative Likenesses of the Work

The full-page miniatures of the Flowers Book of Hours reproduce an astonishingly broad spectrum of typical medieval activities and customs. 12 lovingly designed calendar pictures show everyday scenes from the life of the predominantly peasant population. One shows farmers, as they perform their work in the field through the course of the year. Likewise, the miniatures show typical leisure activities that one pursued as pastimes in the Middle Ages. Boat parties and sled-rides are among them, even a knight’s tournament is depicted. The fantastical pictures were accompanied by unbelievably imaginative and plastic-looking marginal decorations. Playful patterns of buds and flowers of every kind, of little birds and insects, were set in the bordures of the scenes. Bening was able to lend his fantastical depictions an incomparably plastic and real appearance through his shadowy outlines. Without a doubt, the Flowers Book of Hours is a unique masterpiece of medieval book art.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Blumen-Stundenbuch von Simon Bening
Blumenstundenbuch von Simon Bening
Size / Format
438 pages / 16.5 x 11.2 cm
Date
1520-1525
Language
Illustrations
Each single page illuminated: 70 miniature pages and more than 300 pages showing a wealth of decorative motifs, particularly flowers, birds and other animals
Artist / School
Blumen-Stundenbuch von Simon Bening (Deluxe Edition)

Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours

December: Slaughtering Swine

This intimate labor of the month is presented within a delicate frame, all rendered with the refinement one would expect of the great Simon Bening. The Capricorn zodiac symbol reinforces what month it is, indicated in the table at the top by the letters “Deceb”.

In the bas-de-page miniature beneath the calendar itself, we see a pig being slaughtered, a typical scene for the month when salted meat was usually being stockpiled for the winter. Its blood, a rich source of iron, is being carefully collected. Freshly fallen snow covers the landscape, including the gatehouse with drawbridge in the background, perhaps an entrance to a city or castle where the pig might be taken to market. Chickens and dogs wander aimlessly while a bonfire burns in the background.

2 available facsimile edition(s) of „Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours“

Blumen-Stundenbuch von Simon Bening (Deluxe Edition)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
Simon Bening's Flowers Book of Hours – Clm 23637 – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Munich, Germany)
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Blumen-Stundenbuch von Simon Bening (Deluxe Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Faksimile Verlag – Luzern, 1991
Limited Edition
290 copies
Binding
The Deluxe Edition is - according to the original manuscript - bound in red velvet with two gold-plated clasps of sterling silver, decoraded with 46 rubies. All leaves are gilt-edged on three sides. Both the Fine Art Facsimile Edition and the commentary volume come in a protective acrylic glass box
Commentary
1 volume (431 pages) by Eberhard König and Bodo Brinkmann
Regular price without login (like new)1,980 €
Login for a Better Price!
Blumen-Stundenbuch von Simon Bening (Standard Edition)
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Blumen-Stundenbuch von Simon Bening (Standard Edition)

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Faksimile Verlag – Luzern, 1991
Limited Edition
690 copies
Binding
The standard Fine Art Facsimile Edition is bound in red velvet. All leaves are gilt-edged on three sides. Both the Fine Art Facsimile Edition and the commentary volume come in a protective acrylic glass box
Commentary
1 volume (431 pages) by Eberhard König and Bodo Brinkmann
Regular price without login (like new)1,490 €
Login for a Better Price!
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