Les Enluminures

3. Hours of the Virgin
Infancy cycle

Adoration of the Magi

Sext of the Hours of the Virgin is usually marked with an illustration of the Adoration of the Magi. Here, the narrative is expanded into the margins where the Magi's grooms attend the horses or kill time while awaiting their masters. These activities in the borders are juxtaposed with the calm dignity of the Adoration itself.

Spanish Books of Hours are rare. In the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Spain, even more than other European countries because of its political ties, imported Horae from Flanders. This manuscript was probably made for the Infante Don Alfonso de Castile, younger brother of Isabella the Catholic. The arms of Castile and León appear in the manuscript, and in a frontispiece miniature, a blond youth whose appearance corresponds to contemporaneous descriptions of the Infante kneels with his guardian angel before an enthroned God. Don Alfonso died, at the age of fifteen, in 1468; work on the manuscript, whose Calendar was never finished, might have been interrupted at his death. The book may have been finished for Isabella, the future queen.