The Golf Book is a Book of Hours, made in Bruges during the early 1540s. The book’s calendar gives the manuscript its reputation and its name. The latter derives from the round of golf being played by four men in the border decoration of the page devoted to September (image no. 1). Only 30 of the book’s parchment leaves remain, representing a small portion of the original manuscript. What survives is the complete calendar illustrated with the Labours of the Month, a two-page opening for the Hours of the Virgin, and a full-page image depicting a standing bishop, perhaps St Boniface of Lausanne (d. 1260).
The renowned Flemish artist Simon Bening (d. 1561) and his workshop were responsible for the manuscript’s decoration. In addition to the illustrated calendar and portrait of St Boniface, the Book of Hours contains a beautiful cycle of images depicting scenes from the Passion of Christ, including ‘Christ Led before Pilate’ (image no. 2), ‘Christ Nailed to the Cross’ (image no. 3) and ‘The Entombment’ (image no. 4). These were made to accompany the Hours of the Virgin.