Books of Hours are prayer books for lay people containing cycles of prayers to be read at set hours of the day and night. Wealthy patrons in the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance sought Books of Hours that were richly decorated by the leading artists of the time.
The elaborate programme of illuminations in this Book of Hours has been attributed to Simon Marmion (d. 1489), a famous painter and illuminator of the Flemish Hapsburg court, and his assistants, the Master of the Houghton Miniatures and the Master of the Dresden Prayer Book. Earlier in his career, Marmion was responsible for the illumination of grand secular volumes, including commissions for Margaret of York, but in his later years he is particularly associated with the production of delicate Books of Hours. The painterly style of the miniatures reflects Marmion’s work as a panel painter, while the illusionistic borders scattered with finely painted flowers and insects follow the latest fashions in Flemish-style manuscript illumination. Although the original owner is unknown, a group of prayers in French, including one to St Louis, suggest that the book was made for a French-speaker.
View images of the entire manuscripts via our Digitised Manuscripts website.