Spalding University Rare Books

Book of Hours Illuminated for the Daughter of Francis I

Description of the manuscript (on file at the Spalding University Library):

Illuminated manuscript on vellum. (Horae Beatae Virginis Mariae, secundum usum Romanum cum calendario) Manuscript in Latin and Italian on 114 leave (7 by 5 inches), with 18 large miniatures in liquid gold and colors and 12 very small ones at the beginning of each month representing the signs of the zodiac, and 2 full page miniatures of the arms of France and Savoy. Each page with a richly ornamented border of various types of flowers, as well as conventional designs on a solid gilt ground, colorful floreated initial letters on gold grounds, smaller gold initial letters on red and blue grounds.

12 mo, full old light brown Italian morocco, gilt fillets on sides, gilt fleurons in corners, richly gilt back. (Probably Italian, middle XVI century)

An unusual manuscript with a type of decoration not often met with. An accompanying description states that this was written and illuminated for Marguerite de France, Duchesse de Berry, Daughter of Francis I, on the occasion of her marriage with Emmanuel-Philibert, Duke of Savoy, in 1559, as evidenced by the royal arms of France on the recto of fol. 21 and the ducal arms of Savoy on the verso.

The calendar is preceded by an almanac for ten years (1560-69). The large miniatures depict the following subjects:

  1. Two serpents entwined about a tree with a banner displaying the following words: Revum Sapientia Cvstos
  2. (A shield displaying three fleurs de lis, surmounted by a crown) NO PICTURE YET
  3. A shield displaying a cross surmounted by a coronet
  4. (The Trinity surrounded by cherubim) NO PICTURE YET
  5. The Annunciation
  6. St. Luke
  7. The Nativity
  8. The Adoration of the Magi
  9. A decorative design displaying the title of the Book of Hours in Latin
  10. The Flight into Egypt
  11. The Visitation
  12. The Assumption of the Virgin
  13. The Coronation of the Virgin
  14. (King David praying) (note harp and the green patch beneath it) NO PICTURE YET
  15. The Madonna Enthroned
  16. The Presentation in the Temple
  17. The Madonna and Child in Heaven
  18. The Crucifixion
  19. (The Resurrection) NO PICTURE YET
  20. The Flaming Heart of Jesus
Additional images: (All images enhanced for color correction--some more successfully than others)
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Jesse D. Hurlbut