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Prayer Book of Charles the Bold
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Vienna Master of Mary of Burgundy, illuminator; Lieven van Lathem, illuminator; Nicolas Spierinc, scribe
Flemish and French, 1469, about 1471, and about 1480 - 1490
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, silver paint, and ink on parchment bound between wood boards covered with purple velvet
4 7/8 x 3 5/8 in.
MS. 37

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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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