Vatican Office of the Virgin

Vat. lat. 10293 - Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican City, State of the Vatican City)

Alternate Titles:

Offizium der Madonna

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Alternate Titles

Offizium der Madonna

Extent / Format

474 pages / 10.5 x 7.8 cm

Early 16th century
Artist / School

Davidmaster of the Grimani Breviary


34 full-page miniatures, 19 elaborated intials and more than 1200 colored initials

Short description

The Vatican Office of the Virgin was made in Bruges by the illuminator Davidmaster in the early 16th century. It contains 34 high-quality, full-page miniatures and countless decorative initials. The artistic bordures of the miniatures are typical for the famous Belgian style of illumination. Each image of the book is made into a valuable masterpiece by the application of differently worked gold.

Facsimile editions available


Vatican Office of the Virgin

In the Middle Ages, noblemen and wealthy merchants had private devotional books made for them, which they used for prayer and meditation. The majority of these private prayer books arose in the 15th century. The most talented masters of that time wrote and illustrated the codices. The Belgian city of Bruges was a true stronghold of book art at that time, the most coveted manuscripts Europe-wide were produced here. The Vatican Office of the Virgin is one of the masterworks of Bruges. It was made at the beginning of the 16th century by the famous Gothic illuminator Davidmaster of the Grimani Breviary and is illustrated with 34 full-page miniatures. Along with the miniatures, it contains countless further decorative elements and adornments.

An Overwhelming Wealth of Imagery

The impressive illuminated manuscript is adorned with an almost unending wealth of various decorative elements. Every important text passage of the religious work is introduced by an impressive, full-paged miniature. The text is decorated with countless colorful and sometimes large decorative initials. The miniatures are framed by decorative bordures, through which a dramatic spatial depth is produced. The bordures are, in accordance with Flemish book tradition, embellished with enchanting patterns of flowers, birds, and insects. The high-quality, colored depictions were further ennobled though the application of two kinds of gold leaf. The master employed dark, smooth gold for the backgrounds and bright, polished gold for shimmering accents. The work is an inestimably valuable rarity.

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