Prayer Book of Charles the Bold

Object Details

Title:

Prayer Book of Charles the Bold

Artist/Maker(s):

Vienna Master of Mary of Burgundy and workshop (Flemish, active about 1470 - about 1480)

Lieven van Lathem and workshop (Flemish, about 1430 - 1493, active 1454 - 1493)

and Nicolas Spierinc (Flemish, active 1455 - 1499)

Culture:

Flemish and French

Place(s):

Ghent (written) Belgium Antwerp (illuminated) Belgium (Place created)

Date:

1469, about 1471 and about 1480 - 1490

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, silver paint, and ink on parchment bound between wood boards covered with purple velvet

Dimensions:

Leaf: 12.4 x 9.2 cm (4 7/8 x 3 5/8 in.)

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This diminutive prayer book, measuring about five by three and one-half inches, engages the viewer in intimate contemplation of both its text and its images. The book contains Latin prayers devoted to Christ, the Virgin, and the saints and is remarkably embellished with thirty-seven large miniatures, several smaller miniatures, and decorations on every page. The largest miniatures measure only about three inches on the longest side, but they are incredibly detailed, often with deep panoramic landscapes framed by lush borders.

Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy and son of bibliophile Philip the Good, saw many of his father's unfinished book commissions through to completion; this prayer book is one of the rare commissions Charles initiated himself. The accounts of the Burgundian dukes record payments in 1469 to the scribe Nicholas Spierinc of Ghent, to the illuminator Lieven van Lathem of Antwerp, and to the goldsmith who made the original clasps for the binding of this costly book. Along with Lathem, several anonymous illuminators collaborated on this project, including the Vienna Master of Mary of Burgundy. In the 1480s, a series of additional prayers with miniatures by a French illuminator was added to the volume.

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