La Flora Book of Hours

Ms. I.B.51 - Biblioteca Nazionale "Vittorio Emanuele III" (Naples, Italy)

Alternate Titles:

La Flora (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis), Il codice Flora, La Flora-Stundenbuch

Facsimile edition
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$ 8,602
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Alternate Titles

La Flora (Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis)
Il codice Flora
La Flora-Stundenbuch

Extent / Format

736 pages / 21.5 x 13.5 cm

Artist / School

Simon Marmion
Gerard Horenbout
Master of the Dresden Hours
Master of the First Prayerbook of Maximilian
the Master of the Prayerbooks of around 1500


102 miniatures, 36 of them full-page. Rich floral decoration

Former owners

Charles VIII (1483-1498), king of France

Short description

The so-called La Flora Book of Hours in an impressive testimonial to the exceptional art of Simon Marmion. 22 large-format Miniatures present gorgeous compositions from the hand of this master, and this is only a small portion of the 100+ miniatures by various great masters of their craft that adorn the precious book of hours. A grandiose overview of 15th century Flemish illumination in a single manuscript!

Facsimile editions available


La Flora Book of Hours

Simon Marmion (ca. 1425-89) was already famous among his contemporaries as one of the greatest miniaturists of his time, the second half of the 15th century. Marmion came from a family of illuminators out of Amiens and was active in northern France and Flanders. He worked in Lille under Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy and also stood in service to Charles the Bald and Margaret of York at the Burgundian court. His painting is characterized by the exceptional, emotional expressiveness of his figures and a wonderful treatment of light.

Various Masters in One Manuscript

In the La Flora Book of Hours, stored today in Naples’ Biblioteca Nazionale “Vittorio Emanuele III” in Naples, the grandiose painting of Simon Marmion is strikingly perceptible. This precious manuscript originated from Flanders during the period of 1483-1505 – presumably in Ghent of Bruges, the centers of the famous Flemish illumination of the 15th century. The manuscript was presumably assembled from fragments of various older manuscripts, which alongside the miniatures by Simon Marmion also contained works of art by the Master of the Dresden Prayer Book, the Master of the Older Prayer Book of Emperor Maximilian I, and the Master of the Prayer Books of around 1500.

The Rich Book Decoration

The book of hours presents 102 miniatures of the highest quality on 736 pages, of which 36 are full-page, 28 half-page, 30 small miniatures, and 24 calendar pictures. Historiated initials and the coat of arms with the insignia of Charles VIII of France (1470-98) additionally adorned the pages alongside rich floral ornamentation. Of the full-page miniatures 22 are from Simon Marmion and 8 from the Maximilian Master. These are all cut and pasted and thus allow one to assume that they originally came from another manuscript.

Close by the Beholder

An idiosyncrasy of this book-treasure is found in Marmion’s miniatures: in an innovative form of presentation positioning the figures at the front of the picture. As a result, they stand near to the beholder and appear almost like portraits, e.g. Elisabeth and Mary in the depiction of the Visitation. These close-up and monumental depictions by Simon Marmion simultaneously effected an unmitigated focus on the main occurrences.
In this way, the La Flora Book of Hours simultaneously allows an overview of the Flemish illumination of various artists and gives a wonderful inside view into the art of the great Simon Marmion!

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