Hours of Mary of Burgundy

  • folio 14v: the virgin in a church with mary of burgundy at her devotions

    the hours of mary of burgundy (german: stundenbuch der maria von burgund)[1] is a book of hours, a form of devotional book for lay-people, completed in flanders around 1477. it was probably commissioned for mary, the ruler of the burgundian netherlands and then the wealthiest woman in europe. no records survive as to its commission. the book contains 187 folios, each measuring 22.5 by 15 centimetres (8.9 in × 5.9 in). it consists of the roman liturgy of the hours, 24 calendar roundels, 20 full-page miniatures and 16 quarter-page format illustrations.[2] its production began c. 1470, and includes miniatures by several artists, of which the foremost was the unidentified but influential illuminator known as the master of mary of burgundy, who provides the book with its most meticulously detailed illustrations and borders. other miniatures, considered of an older tradition, were contributed by simon marmion, willem vrelant and lieven van lathem. the majority of the calligraphy is attributed to nicolas spierinc, with whom the master collaborated on other works and who may also have provided a number of illustrations.

    the two best known illustrations contain a revolutionary trompe-l'oeil technique of showing a second perspective through an open window from the main pictorial setting. it is sometimes known as one of the black books of hours, due to the dark and sombre appearance of the first 34 pages, in which the gilded letter was written on black panels. the book has been described as "undoubtedly [...] among the most important works of art made in the late middle ages...a milestone in the history of art and one of the most precious objects of the late middle ages".[3] given the dark colourisation and mournful tone of the opening folios, the book may originally have been intended to mark the death of mary's father, charles the bold, who died in 1477 at the battle of nancy. midway through its production, it is thought to have been recommissioned as gift to celebrate mary's marriage to maximilian. tonally, the early pages change from dark, sombre colours to a later sense of optimism and unity.

  • commission
  • attribution
  • design
  • miniatures
  • provenance
  • footnotes
  • references

Folio 14v: The Virgin in a church with Mary of Burgundy at her devotions

The Hours of Mary of Burgundy (German: Stundenbuch der Maria von Burgund)[1] is a book of hours, a form of devotional book for lay-people, completed in Flanders around 1477. It was probably commissioned for Mary, the ruler of the Burgundian Netherlands and then the wealthiest woman in Europe. No records survive as to its commission. The book contains 187 folios, each measuring 22.5 by 15 centimetres (8.9 in × 5.9 in). It consists of the Roman Liturgy of the Hours, 24 calendar roundels, 20 full-page miniatures and 16 quarter-page format illustrations.[2] Its production began c. 1470, and includes miniatures by several artists, of which the foremost was the unidentified but influential illuminator known as the Master of Mary of Burgundy, who provides the book with its most meticulously detailed illustrations and borders. Other miniatures, considered of an older tradition, were contributed by Simon Marmion, Willem Vrelant and Lieven van Lathem. The majority of the calligraphy is attributed to Nicolas Spierinc, with whom the Master collaborated on other works and who may also have provided a number of illustrations.

The two best known illustrations contain a revolutionary trompe-l'oeil technique of showing a second perspective through an open window from the main pictorial setting. It is sometimes known as one of the black books of hours, due to the dark and sombre appearance of the first 34 pages, in which the gilded letter was written on black panels. The book has been described as "undoubtedly [...] among the most important works of art made in the late middle ages...a milestone in the history of art and one of the most precious objects of the late middle ages".[3] Given the dark colourisation and mournful tone of the opening folios, the book may originally have been intended to mark the death of Mary's father, Charles the Bold, who died in 1477 at the Battle of Nancy. Midway through its production, it is thought to have been recommissioned as gift to celebrate Mary's marriage to Maximilian. Tonally, the early pages change from dark, sombre colours to a later sense of optimism and unity.