Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451

Hs. 70 - Hessische Landes- und Hochschulbibliothek (Darmstadt, Germany)

Alternate Titles:

Stephan Lochner Gebetbuch von 1451

Facsimile edition
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Alternate Titles

Stephan Lochner Gebetbuch von 1451

Extent / Format

470 pages / 10.8 x 8.0 cm


Aristocratic Cologne family, a branch of the Hardenrath or Judden family

Artist / School

Stephan Lochner (1400-1451) and workshop


1 full-page miniature, 57 historiated initials

Short description

Stephan Lochenr (1400-1451) is considered to be the most significant artists of Cologne’s school of painting and a primary representative of the “soft style”. A splendid prayer book from the year 1451 is attributed to him and his workshop in Cologne, which was probably commissioned by an aristocratic family, possibly a branch of the Handenrather or Judden families. The 470-page manuscript fascinated the reader with 57 inventive historiated initials and a marvelous full-page miniature of the Annunciation scene. The latter appears together with lush acanthus in rich blue and delicate pink tones that frame the opposite initial.

Facsimile editions available


Stephan Lochner Prayer Book of 1451

Stephan Lochner’s Prayer Book of 1451 contains prayers for private worship and the edification of the laity. The splendid 470-page manuscript originated in Cologne and was probably a collaboration with Lochner’s workshop at the behest of an aristocratic family from Cologne. It is supposed that they may have been a branch of the Hadenrather or Judden families. Its 57 historiated initials, complimented by a full-page miniature are marvelous. Stephan Lochner (1400-1451) is considered to be the most important artist of the Cologne school of painting and the primary representative of the “soft style”. Additionally, he was one of the first recipients of the new Dutch painting of Robert Campin and Jan van Eyck.

Splendidly Colors Initials

Aside from the calendar with 27 astrological signs and 12 zodiac signs, it is above all the historiated initials that enchant the beholder. They mark each new theme of the book, e.g. the life of Jesus Christ, King David, or souls in purgatory. There is also a series of depictions of the saints. The pages with striking initials are additionally furnished with lavish grape vines and stylized foliage and accented with lovely golden ornaments. Additionally, flowers and fruits in red, blue, and green attest to the high artistic talent of the master himself, as well as his workshop. The historiated initials bring a fantastic delicacy to the scenes that are presented to the reader. The landscape in the background of the flight to Egypt is worthy of mention. Instead of portraying it concretely, it appears blurry in pastel blue and gently graded shades of green.

A Special Tribute to the Virgin Mary

Although the Lochner Prayer Book only contains one full-page miniature, it is all the more amazing. The Annunciation scene is depicted at the beginning of the prayer to the Virgin Mary, the most significant text of the entire book. As part of the double-page composition, the simply furnished room in which the angel Gabriel announces the birth of the Son of God to Mary are charming and intimate. While Mary is absorbed in prayer, the lovely angel approaches her with a raised hand. The golden frame of the presentation is again surrounded by first-class decor. On the opposite side, there is probably the most beautiful ornamental design of the entire manuscript. Lochner plays skillfully with the contrast between shimmering gold, rich blue, and delicate pink.

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