Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451

Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451 Facsimile Edition

Cologne (Germany) — 1451

Created in Cologne by Stephan Lochner, one of the greatest painters of his time: masterfully populated initials as a great testimony to the "Soft Style" of the International Gothic

  1. Stephan Lochner (ca. 1410–1451) was a primary representative of the Cologne school and the so-called "Soft Style"

  2. Lochner adorned the wonderful manuscript with rich blues, delicate pinks, and shimmering gold

  3. The historiated initials of the manuscript contain small and delicate but masterful scenic depictions

Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451

  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451

Stephan Lochner (1400–1451) is considered to be the most significant artists of Cologne’s school of painting and a primary representative of the “soft style”. A splendid prayer book from the year 1451 is attributed to him and his workshop in Cologne, which was probably commissioned by an aristocratic family, possibly a branch of the Handenrather or Judden families. The 470-page manuscript fascinated the reader with 57 inventive historiated initials and a marvelous full-page miniature of the Annunciation scene. The latter appears together with lush acanthus in rich blue and delicate pink tones that frame the opposite initial.

Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451

Stephan Lochner’s Prayer Book of 1451 contains prayers for private worship and the edification of the laity. The splendid 470-page manuscript originated in Cologne and was probably a collaboration with Lochner’s workshop at the behest of an aristocratic family from Cologne. It is supposed that they may have been a branch of the Hadenrather or Judden families. Its 57 historiated initials, complimented by a full-page miniature are marvelous. Stephan Lochner (1400–1451) is considered to be the most important artist of the Cologne school of painting and the primary representative of the “soft style”. Additionally, he was one of the first recipients of the new Dutch painting of Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck.

Splendidly Colors Initials

Aside from the calendar with 27 astrological signs and 12 zodiac signs, it is above all the historiated initials that enchant the beholder. They mark each new theme of the book, e.g. the life of Jesus Christ, King David, or souls in purgatory. There is also a series of depictions of the saints. The pages with striking initials are additionally furnished with lavish grape vines and stylized foliage and accented with lovely golden ornaments. Additionally, flowers and fruits in red, blue, and green attest to the high artistic talent of the master himself, as well as his workshop. The historiated initials bring a fantastic delicacy to the scenes that are presented to the reader. The landscape in the background of the flight to Egypt is worthy of mention. Instead of portraying it concretely, it appears blurry in pastel blue and gently graded shades of green.

A Special Tribute to the Virgin Mary

Although the Lochner Prayer Book only contains one full-page miniature, it is all the more amazing. The Annunciation scene is depicted at the beginning of the prayer to the Virgin Mary, the most significant text of the entire book. As part of the double-page composition, the simply furnished room in which the angel Gabriel announces the birth of the Son of God to Mary are charming and intimate. While Mary is absorbed in prayer, the lovely angel approaches her with a raised hand. The golden frame of the presentation is again surrounded by first-class decor. On the opposite side, there is probably the most beautiful ornamental design of the entire manuscript. Lochner plays skillfully with the contrast between shimmering gold, rich blue, and delicate pink.


Alternative Titles
Stephan Lochner Gebetbuch von 1451
Size / Format
470 pages / 10.8 × 8.0 cm
1 full-page miniature, some small-format miniatures, 57 historiated initials
Aristocratic Cologne family, a branch of the Hardenrath or Judden family
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451 – Hs. 70 – Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1989
Limited Edition: 1995 copies
Detail Picture

Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451

“H” Initial: King David

This beautiful blue acanthus leaf initial with a gold leaf background contains a portrait of King David at prayer and styled in the manner of a monarch in the High Middle Ages wearing a red, fur-lined tunic over chainmail. He has laid down his prayer book in front of him, his crown and lyre at his sides as he kneels before an altar in a niche. The tiny scene exhibits incredible attention to detail and the artist and even depicted the stone tracery typical of a Gothic cathedral.

Stephan Lochner Gebetbuch von 1451
Single Page

Book of Hours of Galeotto Pico della Mirandola

Initial Page – St. Hubertus

Hubertus was an 8th century Frankish nobleman who withdrew from court to find solace hunting in the woods after the death of his wife in childbirth. While pursuing a magnificent stag on Good Friday, the animal stopped and looked at him. Hubert then had a vision of a crucifix floating between its antlers and the deer spoke to him, calling him to a godly life.

Hubert is depicted in this initial as a bishop kneeling on the ground holding a book with a tiny deer standing on it. The deer is often used as a symbol of renewal because it sheds its antlers and is associated with Christ. The page positively gleams with gold leaf, from the solid frame of the initial to the winding tendrils of the border, leading to lovely blooms of red and blue.

Stephan Lochner Gebetbuch von 1451
Facsimile Editions

#1 Stephan Lochner Gebetbuch von 1451

Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1989

Publisher: Coron Verlag – Gütersloh, 1989
Limited Edition: 1995 copies
Binding: True-to-original leather binding with rich blind embossing, colour-edging on all sides and two brass clasps
Commentary: 1 volume by Eberhard König, Kurt Hans Staub and Beate Braun-Niehr
Languages: 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.
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