In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on parchment
Southern Netherlands, Bruges, c. 1490-1505
14 full-page miniatures, 1 historiated initial, and 12 calendar miniatures with full borders by the Master of the David Scenes of the Grimani Breviary and workshop
A previously unknown, early work by an important Ghent-Bruges artist, the Master of the David Scenes and his workshop, whose early masterpiece is the ravishing Hours of Joanna of Castille in the British Library.
In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on parchment
France, Rouen, c. 1470-1480
13 miniatures by the Master of the Echevinage de Rouen
These Horae contain thirteen large, skillfully executed arch-topped miniatures painted by the Master of the Echevinage de Rouen. This talented artist oversaw a large workshop in Rouen circa 1460 to 1485 with his principal patrons including the city aldermen (échevins) of Rouen, after whom this artist takes his name.
In Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment
France, Tours or Le Mans, late 1470s-c. 1480
12 miniatures (7 in camaïeu d’or) by Jean Bourdichon and possibly a related artist
This exquisite small manuscript, a twin to a Book on Hours in the Comites Latentes Collection, includes 12 miniatures, of which 7 are in camaïeu d’or. New research securely attributes the 5 opening miniatures to the young Jean Bourdichon, painter to four kings of France and direct disciple of the celebrated Jean Fouquet
“It is a commonplace to describe Books of Hours as “the medieval best-sellers,” but it is also true that they are among the most commercially successful manuscripts in the modern world.
There has probably never been a moment since the Middle Ages when it has not been possible to buy a manuscript Book of Hours.
Only billionaires today can realistically possess Rembrandts or Monets: very few academic art historians could hope to do so. This is not so with Books of Hours. Even now, a moderate medieval Book of Hours ... is not at all beyond the aspirations of any scholar on a normal professional or university salary.
The experience of walking through the countryside with a chunky little medieval Book of Hours in one’s pocket or of looking at it in bed at night is magical ....
There are Books of Hours still living in the wild and, when all have been chased and captured, the world will have lost something precious and very old.”
Christopher de Hamel, “Books of Hours and the Art Market,” in Books of Hours Reconsidered, edited by Sandra Hindman and James H. Marrow, Turnhout, Brepols, and London, Harvey Miller, 2013, pp. 39-48.
This site presents Books of Hours, the medieval “bestseller,” for sale by Les Enluminures.
It includes full descriptions and images for every Book of Hours on the site. Examples represent a wide range of Books of Hours available on the market, manuscripts made in France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Italy and dating from c. 1400 to c. 1540. Some printed Books of Hours are included. Tutorials offer tools for learning more about Books of Hours. Visitors can search by artist, country, date, price range, and reference number.
Explore the enduring fascination Books of Hours held for their owners, then and now.
New Acquisitions of Books of Hours
For the release of
“Books of Hours Reconsidered”,
S. Hindman, J. Marrow (eds.)
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It has become commonplace to describe the Book of Hours as the “medieval bestseller” even though in the most recent publication Books of Hours Reconsidered (ed. S. Hindman and J. Marrow, Brepols and Harvey Miller, 2013), one author cautions against this language as misleading. In centers like Germany and Italy, Books of Hours are indeed relatively rare. We continue however to stress the idea of the Book of Hours as a “bestseller,” focusing on those countries where families who possessed just one book certainly owned a treasured Book of Hours – which they used to record family events, teach their children to read, carry with them to church. Examples among our newest acquisitions come from France (the very heartland of the Book of Hours), the Netherlands (the only country where the Book of Hours was translated into the Dutch, the language of the people, for all to read), and Belgium (second only to France in the production of Books of Hours). Our emphasis is on the creativity of the artists who painted these extraordinarily special and uniquely personal.
Highlights include a refined “pre-Eyckian” manuscript painted by a group of artists probably in Antwerp and bearing all the hallmarks of the “International Style” as refined in the Netherlands and in Belgium. There is also a tiny manuscript in pristine condition by a Ghent-Bruges artist known as the Master of the David Scenes of the Grimani Breviary; an innovation of this artist is his creation of elaborate trompe l’oeil frames to house his realistic figures that take part in lively scenes. The Masters of the Zwolle Bible who painted the miniatures in the last example, written entirely in Dutch probably by copyists of the Devotio Moderna, are known for their restrained colors and the uncluttered settings of their miniatures that focus attention on the figures and their interactions.
Handed down from generation to generation, Books of Hours survive in far greater numbers and in much better condition than panel paintings from these centers. In their remarkable freshness and rich colors, these Books of Hours offer viewers today a privileged glimpse at the originality, imagination, and craftsmanship of artists of the late Middle Ages in northern Europe.