Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Acc., No.54.1.2 - Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters (New York, USA)

Alternate Titles:

Stundenbuch der Jeanne d'Evreux

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Stundenbuch der Jeanne d'Evreux

Type
Extent / Format

418 pages / 9.0 x 6.0 cm

Origin
Date
1325-1328
Style
Genre
Language
Patron

Gift from King Charles IV of France (Charles the Fair, reigned 1322-1328) to his consort Jeanne d'Evreux (1310-1371) on the occasion of their wedding or coronation

Artist / School

Jean Pucelle (active c. 1319-1335)

Illustrations

25 full-page miniatures, approx. 700 decorative marginal figures

Former owners

King Charles V of France (reigned 1340- 1380)
Duc Jean de Berry (1340-1416)
Baron Louis-Jules du Chatelet
Barons Edmond
Alphonse de Rothschild
Baron Maurice de Rothschild

Short description

The Book of Hours of Jeanne d'Évreux is a true masterpiece of late medieval calligraphy. This fine work was commissioned by King Charles IV of France and dedicated to his wife, Jeanne d'Évreux. A masterful Grisaille, it was personally embroidered by the artist Jean Pucelle. Next to the miniature pages, over 700 fascinating painted figured outline each page of the entire Book of Hours, lending this Manuscript the mystique of a phantasy world.

Facsimile editions available

Description

The Book of Hours of Jeanne d'Èvreux

The Book of Hours of Jeanne d'Èvreux is a true masterpiece of late medieval calligraphy. This fine work was commissioned by King Charles IV of France and dedicated to his wife, Jeanne d'Èvreux. A masterful Grisaille, it was personally embroidered by the artist Jean Pucelle. Next to the miniature pages, over 700 fascinating painted figured outline each page of the entire Book of Hours, lending this Manuscript the mystique of a phantasy world.

A Kingly Wedding Gift

Charles IV, “the Fair”, commissioned the renown French miniature artist Jean Pucelle with the task of creating the Book of Hours for his beloved wife, Jeanne d'Èvreux (1310-1371). The book is most likely either a Wedding gift or from the occasion of Charles’ coronation in the Reims Cathedral. King Charles, the last Capetian ruler of France, died in 1328, leaving Jeanne a widow. The Book of Hours would end up in the ownership of King Charles V, whose brother, Duke Jean de Berry, was a passionate collector and patron of a multitude of manuscripts. In the library of the Duke of Berry was the book first mentioned. But suddenly the book ended up in 19th Century in the ownership of the famous Rothschild family, who would later allow the sale of the item to the Metropolitan Museum, who to this day keep it safely stored as one of its paramount highlights of its collection.

The Art of Grisaille Painting

Upon first glance, one will immediately notice the extensive grey tones that prevail throughout the Book of Hours. Moreover, the lack of gilded artwork was an intentional design choice by Jeanne d'Èvreux. One must keep in mind that this artistic configuration of the book is truly a tour de force. The 25 whole miniature pages, along with the multitude of small figures, initials, and bas-de-page-miniatures are in this style of Grisaille. Mainly due to the utilization of grey tones, wonderful figures and scenes are sporadically distributed throughout the book, along with partially colored figures in red, blue, a tart purple, or turquoise. Jean Pucelle, who had been inspired by other contemporary Italian Trecento paintings, erected a truly impressive example of a book that, despite its small size of 9,4 x 6,4 cm, exudes a massive artistic beauty.

Fantastic Flourish and Spiritual Events

Paired amongst the 29 miniature pages are eight scenes from the childhood and Passion of Christ juxtaposed with the life of much celebrated French King Louis IX, who was an ancestor of Jeanne. Up to the depiction of Christ suffering on Calvary during his Crucifixion, all the scenes are richly imbued with architectural elements in the outlines of the pages. The scenes are elaborately painted in detail. Around the main scenes, wild occurrences of initials, marginal figures, and other small illustrations weave from the edges to even amongst the text itself, between the lines, throughout the 209 pages. Animals, like monkeys, dogs, and people from the entire spectrum of Medieval society populate the pages; with musicians, soldiers, beggars, priests, and young women eventually melding into fantastic creates. Great, bearded creatures with bodies like fish, along with angels wings, alongside other mixtures of animals and people decorate the pages. Some illustrations of tournaments from the everyday life in France, as well as small depiction of Herod’s crimes in Bethlehem can be found.

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