Libro de Horas del Delfín de Francia
- Publisher / Year
- CM Editores –
Ms. 1011 - Bibliothèque municipale de Grenoble (Grenoble, France)
The Book of Hours of the Dauphin of France is a brilliantly executed illuminated manuscript, which was produced in the Bourges atelier of the father-son team of Jean and Jacquelin de Montluçon ca. 1500. They were a successful family of illuminators who profited greatly from the patronage of the nobility and even the French Crown. This prayer book was intended for the heir apparent of France and is considered to be one of the most magnificent manuscripts to be produced during the French golden age of illumination – and one of the most expensive! All of its 128 pages are lavishly illuminated in the elegant French style with luminous colors accentuated with gold.
This treasure from the golden age of French illumination was made for the heir apparent of France, the Dauphin, and is the result of a father-son team in Bourges. Jean de Montluçon and his son Jacquelin ran an art studio in Bourges ca. 1500 and were contemporaries of Jean Colombe, another gifted artist working in Bourges and the artist responsible for the splendid Le Très Riches Heures del Duque du Berry. Stored in the Bibliothèque municipale de Grenoble under the shelf mark Ms. 1011, the Book of Hours of the Dauphin of France is one of the most elaborate and expensive illuminated manuscripts ever produced and was made with artistry that is second to none.
Jean de Montluçon established his atelier in Bourges in 1461 and his son was born there two years later. They prospered through the patronage of the nobility and the French crown – Jean even created the decorations for the funeral of King Charles VII. Jacquelin took over his father’s workshop after his death in 1494 and ran it until his own death in 1505. In addition to illuminated manuscripts such as Bréviaire de Monypenny, the Heures de Chappes (bibliothèque de l'Arsenal, Ms 438) or the Missel franciscain (bibliothèque municipale de Lyon, ms. 514), which resulted from a collaboration between the elder de Montluçon and Jean Colombe, they are also responsible for some magnificent altarpieces, like the Adoration of the Child of Chambery, and various heraldic paintings.
The Dauphin, as the heir apparent to the throne of France, belonged among the highest rank of European nobility during the Late Middle Ages. Having emerged from the 100 Years’ War battered but revitalized with a new, more centralized state, France’s prosperity found expression in the manifold masterpieces that were being produced during what is now referred to as the golden age of French illumination. French manuscripts from this period are second to none with respect to the skill with which they were created and the wealth of decoration they contain with radiant colors that glimmer with finely-executed gold accents. The Book of Hours of the Dauphin of France is no exception to this artistry – all of its 128 pages are illuminated in the refined French style. The miniature scenes inside the architectural frames possess both realism, as demonstrated in the expressions and gesticulation of the figures and creatures therein, and an airy, dream-like quality due to their vibrant colors and shimmering gold. This is a shining example of late medieval artistry, an ideal of an illuminated manuscript worthy of the Dauphin of France.