Bruges Hours Vat. Ross. 94

Vat. Ross. 94 - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Book of Hours from Bruges, Stundenbuch aus Brügge, Heures de Bruges

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Alternate Titles

Book of Hours from Bruges
Stundenbuch aus Brügge
Heures de Bruges

Extent / Format

490 pages / 9.3 x 7.3 cm

Around 1500
Artist / School

Three different illuminators


39 full-page miniatures, numerous flowers, animals and drolleries

Short description

The Book of Hours from Bruges originates from Bruges at the end of the 15th century or beginning of the 16th century. Three talented illuminators illustrated the manuscript, which is collected in a hand-sized codex. The work contains 39 full pages illustrations, numerous golden miniatures, and astonishingly realistic bordures that adorn the page margins.

Facsimile editions available


The Book of Hours from Bruges

In the Middle Ages, Flanders was a stronghold of manuscript book art. Nowhere else was there such a great density of talented masters. The illustrated codices from Belgium were coveted across all of Europe and served the masters from other regions as examples. The particularity of Flemish illumination is that the miniatures have as monumental of an effect as paintings. The miniature painters were guided in their labor by the artistic works of the Old Dutch Masters, Rogier van der Weyden for example. As a consequence, every miniature became its own small work of art. A special treasure of Flemish illumination is the so-called Book of Hours from Bruges. The work is a small handbook containing 39 full page colored pictures, which are exceedingly embellished with gold. The pages of text were ennobled through the use of gold initials framed with imaginative bordures.

A Mysterious Codex

It is not known exactly who is responsible for the genesis of the Flemish book of hours. Judging by the illustrations, three illuminators are possible, their names are nonetheless unknown. A specific commissioner for the book can also not be determined today. To be sure, the expensive decoration of the codex indicates a wealthy recipient. Books of hours were beloved first and foremost by the nobility in the Middle Ages. In particular, the French nobility coveted the private prayer books, which they used for prayer and meditation at specific times a day. French dukes obtained their valuable codices almost exclusively from Belgium.

Three Flemish Masters

The Book of Hours from Bruges originates from Flanders at the end of the 15th century or beginning of the 16th century. Three gifted masters worked on it together, unfortunately none of their names are known. One artist embellished the text of the work, which is contained in fine French Gothic calligraphy. He produced hundreds of initials, all designed in polished gold. The second artist illustrated 24 stylish calendar sheets. The third artist added bordures with an immeasurable variety of patterns to the pages. The colorful, vivid bordures show flowers, fruits, animals, insects, and valuable gemstones. The depictions were illustrated with great exactness and passion for detail so that they seem almost tangible.

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