Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans

Ms. latin 1156B - Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, France)

Alternate Titles:

Les Heures de Marguerite d′Orléans, Libro d'ore di Margherita d'Orleans, Stundenbuch der Margarete von Orléans

Facsimile edition
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$ 7,056
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Alternate Titles

Les Heures de Marguerite d′Orléans
Libro d'ore di Margherita d'Orleans
Stundenbuch der Margarete von Orléans

Extent / Format

420 pages / 20.7 x 15.0 cm

Around 1426-1430; Some elements added around 1450

Richard d'Étampes, Duke of Brittany

Artist / School

Master of Marguerite d'Orléans
Étienne Sauderat
Another unknown Breton Master


41 miniatures, 24 calendar medallions framed in gold and 42 historicized borders

Former owners

Jean-Baptiste Châtre de Cangé

Short description

The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans originates from around 1426 and was produced by a court illuminator who was known as the “Master of Marguerite d’Orléans.” The magnificent example contains some of the most beautiful miniatures of its epoch and is embroidered by its decorative borders which frame the pages. Contemporary scenes of medieval life are presented in never before seen variety and narrative delight.

Facsimile editions available


Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans

Books of Hours are private prayer- and devotional books for the laity. The name correlates to the time of day or the particular hour of the day, at which time one should pray. In the Late Middle Ages, books of hours were especially beloved among the French nobility and were quite common. A prominent work of this kind is the Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans, a magnificent codex that was begun around 1426 and was finished around 1450. Its fame continues to this day. The Masterwork contains 420 pages with 41 luminously colored miniatures, framed with borders that present historical events. Furthermore, there are 24 calendar medallions in gold frames. The work offers a artistically valuable overview of life in the 15th century.

A Personal Work for the Book Aficionado

Marguerite d’Orléans is the granddaughter of King Charles V and the great niece of Duke Jean de Berry. Both members of the French high nobility were known lovers of art and collectors of books and founded with their collections of books the modern French National Library. Marguerite had her private book of hours created by her personal illuminator, who was known after this masterpiece as the “Master of Marguerite d’Orléans.” Later she had it augmented with contemporary decorative elements by Étienne Sauderat, an illuminator from the milieu of the Bedford masters. The personal character of the codex is highlighted by numerous depictions of the monogram and the alliance coat-of-arms of Margeurite and her husband Richard d´Etampes. He was the Duke of Brittany and was probably the official commissioner of the book of hours.

A Pioneering Master of Illumination

The Master of Marguerite d’Orléans was very likely a student of the highly respected master Boucicaut. His configuration of the excellent book of hours for his commissioner was guided by its incomparable style of painting. The master was also influenced by the famous Limburg brothers for his work. The master, who before his work specialized more in works of secular literature, combined ancient sagas and legends with contemporary events. Thus he created an expansive work that had influence beyond French borders, which it holds to this day.

The Entire Medieval World in one Book

The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans is a milestone of the Middle Ages. 41 gaily colored and sometimes gold decorated miniatures show depictions of the saints and scenes from the New Testament. The borders, which frame the pages of the book, depict an abundance of historical events from every time period and are counted among the most beautiful book decorations of its epoch. They present medieval life in diverse ways, they show knights in tournaments and battles, pilgrims on their strenuous journey to Santiago de Compostela, or simple everyday actions such as the loading and unloading of ships in a harbor. The elaborately worked Moroccan leather binding was added by the book binder of Louis XV. Consequently the masterly book of hours received an appropriate receptacle.

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