A highly decorated French Book of Hours, commissioned by Jean d’Orléans (d. 1471), Count of Dunois.

Among the book’s extensive decoration, which appears on nearly every page of the manuscript, there are sixty full-page illustrations, painted in colours and gold and accompanied by large decorated initials and borders. The subjects of these illustrations include scenes from the Life of the Virgin and the Life of Christ; portraits of the Four Evangelists and other Christian saints; a representation of the Office of the Dead; and personifications of the Seven Vices.

In 1436, at the height of the Hundred Years’ War between England and France the Count of Dunois aided the French army in recapturing Paris from the English. Only a few years later, he commissioned this richly illuminated Book of Hours in the city. Dunois’s coat of arms appears on twenty different pages of the manuscript. In addition, portraits of the Count are included in the border of the calendar page for January (on f. 3r), where he is depicted feasting; and in an illustration that precedes two prayers to the Virgin Mary (on f. 22v, digitised image 2), where he is shown dressed in armour, kneeling before the Virgin and infant Christ. He also appears in a representation of the Last Judgement (on f. 32v, digitised image 4), where he is shown standing alongside St John the Evangelist.

A French inscription added to the manuscript in the 16th century indicates that after Dunois’s death in 1471, the Book of Hours was given to his nephew, the future King of France, Louis XII (r. 1498–1515). It later came into the possession of the book collector Abbé Fauvel, chaplain to Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715) and Louis XV (r. 1715–1774).

View images of the entire manuscripts via our Digitised Manuscripts website.