Vatican Office of the Virgin

Vatican Office of the Virgin – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 10293 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Bruges (Belgium) β€” Early 16th century

A luxury manuscript for an enigmatic noble patron, today preserved in the Vatican Library: enchanting Flemish book illumination by the hand of the David Master of the Breviarium Grimani with golden accents in a splendid silver binding

  1. This masterpiece from Bruges reflects the luxury private devotional books popular with the nobility

  2. It stands firmly in the Flemish tradition with densely populated bordures and full-page miniatures

  3. It features dark, smooth gold for the backgrounds and bright, polished gold for shimmering accents

Vatican Office of the Virgin

Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (3)
Description
Vatican Office of the Virgin

The Vatican Office of the Virgin is a true gem of Flemish Renaissance book art. The small-format but exceedingly precious manuscript was created in Bruges in the early 16th century by the David Master, who is especially known for his work in the famous Breviarium Grimani. The religious texts contained are adorned by 19 large floral and innumerable smaller decorated initials, while 34 high-quality, full-page miniatures precede the most important sections. The impressive images of biblical scenes and religious figures are mostly framed by elaborate architectural borders. The use of variously worked gold makes almost every decorative element of the codex a precious masterpiece. Today, the magnificent manuscript is kept in the Vatican Library and is one of the special treasures of its rich collections.

Vatican Office of the Virgin

In the Middle Ages, noblemen and wealthy merchants had private devotional books made for them, which they used for prayer and meditation. The majority of these private prayer books arose in the 15th century. The most talented masters of that time wrote and illustrated the codices. The Belgian city of Bruges was a true stronghold of book art at that time, the most coveted manuscripts Europe-wide were produced here. The Vatican Office of the Virgin is one of the masterworks of Bruges. It was made at the beginning of the 15th century by the famous Gothic illuminator Jean Bourdichon and is illustrated with 34 full-page miniatures. Along with the miniatures, it contains countless further decorative elements and adornments.

A Renowned Master

The Vatican Office of the Virgin is attributed to the French artist Jean Bourdichon. Bourdichon was active as court painter for three French kings, namely Louis IX, Charles VIII, and Louis XI. He is considered to be the last great master of the Gothic style and initiated the early French Renaissance. Unfortunately, only a few of his works have survived. The Vatican Office of the Virgin is among his greatest feats.

An Overwhelming Wealth of Imagery

The impressive illuminated manuscript is adorned with an almost unending wealth of various decorative elements. Every important text passage of the religious work is introduced by an impressive, full-paged miniature. The text is decorated with countless colorful and sometimes large decorative initials. The miniatures are framed by decorative bordures, through which a dramatic spatial depth is produced. The bordures are, in accordance with Flemish book tradition, embellished with enchanting patterns of flowers, birds, and insects. The high-quality, colored depictions were further ennobled though the application of two kinds of gold leaf. The master employed dark, smooth gold for the backgrounds and bright, polished gold for shimmering accents. The work is an inestimably valuable rarity.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Offizium der Madonna
Size / Format
474 pages / 10.5 Γ— 7.8 cm
Origin
Belgium
Date
Early 16th century
Language
Script
Gothic Textura
Illustrations
34 full-page miniatures in opulent architectural frames, 19 large floral ornamental initials, and over 1,200 smaller gold-adorned initials
Content
Office of the Virgin Mary and other Offices
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Vatican Office of the Virgin – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 10293 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1987
Limited Edition: 200 copies

Vatican Office of the Virgin – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 10293 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1987
Limited Edition: 2900 copies

Vatican Office of the Virgin – Coron Verlag – Vat. lat. 10293 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Coron Verlag – Zurich, 1999
Limited Edition: 555 copies
Detail Picture

Vatican Office of the Virgin

Christ in Majesty

Presented in an architectural frame as though it were a panel painting, this portrait of Christ in majesty is a masterpiece of Flemish Renaissance art combining realism with ornamentation. This is exemplified by the globus cruciger in his left hand, which is transparent in order to show the golden band wrapping around the other side. The hair and beard have been drawn in with countless brushstrokes while the hand giving the sign of the benediction has realistic proportions and skin folds.

Vatican Office of the Virgin – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 10293 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Single Page

Vatican Office of the Virgin

Flight to Egypt

After the Wise Men visited baby Jesus in the manger, worshiping him and presenting their gifts to him, Mary and Joseph are divinely warned of danger. β€œNow when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, β€˜Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’” (Matt. 2:13)

As the Holy Family departs for Egypt, Joseph looks over his shoulder while driving the donkey down the road, drawing the beholder’s eyes to the Massacre of the Innocents in the distance. The scene is presented as though it were a large panel painting hanging in a church with neat rows of columns and arches creating a realistic interior space.

Vatican Office of the Virgin – Belser Verlag – Vat. lat. 10293 – Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Offizium der Madonna (De Luxe Edition)

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1987

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1987
Limited Edition: 200 copies
Binding: Silver bindung with 8 gem stones and 2 clasps
Commentary: 1 volume by Bodo Brinkmann
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)

#2 Offizium der Madonna (Standard Edition)

Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1987

Publisher: Belser Verlag – Zurich, 1987
Limited Edition: 2900 copies
Binding: Leather
Commentary: 1 volume by Bodo Brinkmann
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €
(under 1,000€)

#3 Offizium der Madonna (Coron Edition)

Coron Verlag – Zurich, 1999

Publisher: Coron Verlag – Zurich, 1999
Limited Edition: 555 copies
Binding: Binding of red silk surrounded by a silvered metal binding with clasps decorated with 5 dark red garnet stones and 2 white decorative pearls.
Commentary: 1 volume by Bodo Brinkmann
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.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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