Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon

Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 3781 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

France — Second half of the 15th century

An impressive example of the beautiful fine art by the talented court painter of no less than three French kings: Jean Bourdichon's splendidly appointed Gothic masterpiece from the Apostolic Library

  1. This masterpiece by Jean Bourdichon (1457/59–1521) is one of the most beautiful codices in the world

  2. One of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, Bourdichon worked at the court of three French kings

  3. This masterpiece is one of the most technically perfect executions of the Gothic style

Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (2)
Description
Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon

The Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon was created in France in the second half of the 15th century and is one of the most beautiful private prayer books in French book illumination. The gem was created by the gifted master illuminator and court painter Jean Bourdichon and his pupils for an unknown patron. It is endowed with an exuberant splendour of book decoration of technical perfection, including 17 beautiful full-page miniatures, fantastical borders and over 1,200 ornate decorated initials, which, although still rooted in the late Gothic style, already point to the emerging French Renaissance. This high-quality refinement makes the Book of Hours, which is now kept in the Vatican Library, one of the artist's most outstanding works alongside Bourdichon's Office of the Virgin.

Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon

Books of hours are private prayer and meditation books, which were widely distributed starting in the 13th century. The golden age for books of hours occurred in the late 14th and 15th centuries in France and Flanders. Arising then was one of the most beautiful handwritten codices in the world. Even today, the illuminated manuscripts of the talented French and Belgian masters are able to amaze their beholders. The Vatican Book of Hours by Jean Bourdichon is one of these special masterpieces. It is adorned with 17 full-page miniatures and over 1,200 decorated initials.

The French School

The Vatican Book of Hours was designed by the French illuminator Jean Bourdichon. Bourdichon produced some of the most important manuscripts of the early French Renaissance, for example, the outstanding Vatican Office of the Virgin. He worked as a painter at the courts of three French kings, including Charles VII. As one of the most influential painters of the early Renaissance, he oversaw the Tours School. The illumination of Bourdichon impresses through its unbelievable technical perfection.

Bewitching Book Decoration

At the beginning of the book of hours there is a calendar with original representations of the 12 signs of the zodiac. Four images of the evangelists and 13 additional full-page miniatures are impressive examples of the highly-developed fine painting of Bourdichon. The work arose in the second half of the 15th century and the images adhere to the Gothic style. The Vatican Book of Hours gives proof of the talent and artistry of Bourdichon in an exquisite manner.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Office of the Blessed Virgin
Das Vatikanische Stundenbuch des Jean Bourdichon
Vatikanisches Stundenbuch Jean Bourdichons
Offzium der Madonna
Size / Format
236 pages / 15.5 × 9.5 cm
Origin
France
Date
Second half of the 15th century
Style
Language
Illustrations
17 masterful full-page miniatures in wide, imaginative frames and over 1200 initials in red, blue, and gold
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 3781 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1984
Limited Edition: 2900 copies

Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 3781 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 2008
Limited Edition: 499 copies
Detail Picture

Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon

Portrait of Mark the Evangelist

Saint Mark is depicted writing his Gospel with a stylus in his right hand and a small pen knife in his left. A lion is shown in front of him with its front paws up on the table in the way one’s pet dog might eagerly indicate that it would like to go for a walk. Both figures are accented with gold, and Mark has a floral patterned collar made from cloth of gold. This atmospheric Evangelist portrait is a fine example of the refinement of the French Gothic style on the eve of the Renaissance.

Offizium der Madonna - Stundenbuch des Jean Bourdichon (Standard Edition)
Single Page

Vatican Book of Hours from the Circle of Jean Bourdichon

King David at Prayer

Most depictions of King David show him killing Goliath, composing Psalms, playing a harp, or spying on Bathsheba. This unusual depiction shows a middle-aged David in prayer, presumably before battle because he is armed and armored with a host encamped over his left shoulder. It stands in the medieval tradition of presenting the biblical David as an example of chivalry and good rule.

The miniature is a masterpiece of the French Gothic style with a rich floral frame inhabited by birds and insects that takes up half the page. It already exhibits influences from Renaissance Italy, especially with regard to the naturalism with which David himself is depicted as he gazes upward, hands folded in prayer, as rays of gold reach down to him from heaven.

Offizium der Madonna - Stundenbuch des Jean Bourdichon (Standard Edition)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Offizium der Madonna - Stundenbuch des Jean Bourdichon (Standard Edition)

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1984

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1984
Limited Edition: 2900 copies
Binding: Brown leather
Commentary: 1 volume (136 pages) by Eberhard König
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: € (under 1,000€)
Edition available
Price: Log in here!

#2 Offizium der Madonna - Stundenbuch des Jean Bourdichon (Limited Edition)

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 2008

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 2008
Limited Edition: 499 copies
Binding: White leather with rich, gold-coloured metal applications and two book clasps
Commentary: 1 volume (136 pages) by Eberhard König
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: €€€ (3,000€ - 7,000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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