Les Enluminures

3. Hours of the Virgin
Infancy cycle

Coëtivy Master

The traditional illustration for Lauds is the Visitation. The pregnant Virgin “went into the hill country” (as Luke tells us) to her cousin Elizabeth, herself pregnant with John the Baptist, of whom it was prophesized that he would prepare the way for the Lord. The older, slightly stooped, Elizabeth, extends one hand to Mary and places the other on the unborn Savior. The tenderness between women reminds us that brides and wives frequently owned Books of Hours, which were given to them as betrothal or marriage presents.

This belongs with a group of some 30 manuscripts painted by Coëtivy Master, who was the most important Parisian illuminator of the third quarter of the fifteenth century between c. 1450 and 1485. His eponymous name comes from a sumptuous Book of Hours commissioned by Olivier de Coëtivy and his wife, Marie de Valois (Vienna Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 1929).