An “illuminated manuscript” is a manuscript that has been illuminated.  “The word ‘illumination’ (from the Latin lumen, light) means creating light, which was achieved by the use of gold or silver, which both reflect light and make whatever they are ornamenting more luminous” (Weinstein, 1997, p. 38).  “The word manuscript, literally ‘handwritten,’ has come to be used to describe a book written by hand” (Brown, 1994, p. 81).  Accordingly, an illuminated manuscript is a handwritten book that has been painted by an illuminator and which may include miniature paintings, surrounded by beautifully decorated borders.  Often the text of the manuscript is also decorated with illuminated letters, most commonly, the first letter of the text on the page, as illustrated above, in the incipit.

This blog is a brief study of The Prayer Book of Charles The Bold (“The Prayer Book”).  It is a book of prayers with illuminated miniatures that were hand chosen in 1469 by Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy.  Antoine de Schryver wrote comprehensive history of The Prayer Book in cooperation with The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California.  It is titled:  The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold, A Study of a Flemish Masterpiece from the Burgundian Court and was published in French in 2006, then translated into English by Jessica Berenbeim and re-published in English in 2008.  The publication of the book was the culmination of over fifty years of work by De Schryver, who was a professor of history at the University of Ghent.  While still a student, De Schryver combed the achieves of the Burgundian Dukes housed in Brussels.  There, in 1957, he found accounting records of Charles the Bold, dated 1469, relating to the payment by Charles for the creation of a “little prayer book” (De Schryver, 2008, p. 9 and p. 267).  Shortly thereafter, De Schryver located the little prayer book in the private collection of Count Durrieu in France.  Though Professor De Schryver was unable to extensively study little prayer book at that time, when The Getty Museum acquired The Prayer Book in 1989, he was invited to conduct a comprehensive study of the book and publish his findings (id.).  De Schryver’s book was invaluable in conducting the minor study that is this blog. 

The Prayer Book will be studied in terms of its historical context through a much abbreviated review of the 600 year existence of the Duchy of Burgundy and a brief introduction to the “Grand Dukes,” Philip the Good and Charles the Bold.  The Prayer Book was not created in a vacuum, but is representative of the thriving Renaissance art scene in the Burgundian Court of the 15th century.  A history of The Prayer Book’s patron, Charles the Bold, is played out throughout the pages of The Prayer Book, both in terms of the miniatures and the prayers themselves.  

The Prayer Book was made in three distinct phases.  The first was the creation of the “Documented Core”; the second was the creation of “The Little Hours of the Cross” ; and the third was the creation of the “Supplement.”  As discussed in greater detail below, the Documented Core and The Little Hours of the Cross were commissioned by Charles the Bold and most likely created by the scribe and illuminator team of Nicolas Spierinc and Lieven van Lathem (a short biography of each is contained below).   The Supplement was added sometime after 1480 by an unknown subsequent owner who commissioned different scribes and illuminators, most likely from Normandy. 

The miniatures contained in The Prayer Book exhibit many of the stylistic features common to illuminated manuscripts such as colophon, rubrication, and illusionism.  To the extent possible, images and definitions are provided throughout this blog to make the study of The Prayer Book more understanding and meaningful (each of the images and text boxes can be enlarged by clicking the image or text box).  Also included is a brief codicological discussion of The Prayer Book addressing the physical properties of the  book such as the binding, the ink and pigments used by the scribes, and the actual collation of the book through quires.  Finally, this blog ends with abbreviated highlights of The Prayer Book’s subsequent owners.  In many cases, The Prayer Book itself provides its own provenance through inscriptions that have been added to The Prayer Book throughout the centuries.   Today, The Prayer Book is in the Illuminated Manuscript collection of The Getty museum and is periodically on display at the museum. 

  

 

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The Duchy of Burgundy was ruled by a succession of dukes beginning in 843 and ending in 1477 with the death of Charles the Bold.  The territorial holdings of Burgundy were between France and Germany; the borders ebbed and flowed during the 600 year history of the Duchy.  At the short lived height of the Court of Burgundy, Philip the Good and his son, Charles the Bold,  were labeled the “Grand Dukes” of Burgundy.  Both father and son fancied themselves as Renaissance monarchs (Cope, 1986 p. 164).  They were avid supporters of the arts:   “the patronage of no ruling house has had a greater influence on the artistic development of western Europe” (id. at 165).  Both Philip and Charles were patrons of illuminated manuscripts.   Philip was renowned for his library and employed a personal scribe. 

The art of this period, especially from the Court of Burgundy, had a certain style.  Later, that style would be coined “Burgundian.”    Producing an illuminated manuscript was expensive; accordingly, few outside of royalty and nobility could afford to commission a manuscript.  However, in the Burgundy Court, the Dukes had personal scribes and illuminators in their courts.  Many illuminated manuscripts and other pieces of Burgundian art have survived the centuries.  

 

The Patron: Charles the Bold

Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy commissioned The Prayer Book in 1469.  At that time Charles was engaged in numerous battles to expand and unite his territorial holdings.  Historians have noted that “Charles the Rash” is a more accurate translation of Charles le Temeraire than is “Charles the Bold” (Cope, p. 161).  As demonstrated by his warrior behavior, Charles was “Rash.”  

                                         

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Ultimately, Charles was killed in battle in 1477 at the young age of 44 and after only 10 years of reign.  At his death, Charles’ nineteen year-old daughter Mary of Burgundy was his only heir.  Prior to his death, Charles had arranged a marriage of his daughter to Maximilian, the future Holy Roman Emperor.  Upon Charles’ death, Maximilian and Mary were able to keep the Low Countries of the Duchy under Hapsburg control.  However, Louis XI of France, absorbed the southern part of the Duchy, thereby officially ending a 600 year history of the Duchy of Burgundy (Cope, pp. 183-187).  

        

  
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Absent colophon, it is generally accepted that Charles the Bold was the patron of The Prayer Book.   Three types of evidence exist to support Charles’ patronage:  1) written records of the payments to the scribe, illustrator, silversmith and binder; 2) images of Charles illuminated in The Prayer Book; and, 3) an unusual prayer that was also included in the prayer books of his father and grandfather.  

While conducting research for his dissertation at the University of Ghent in the 1950s, De Schryver,  reviewed the achieves of the Burgundian Dukes.  In those achieves, there were several documents relating to payments made in 1469 to a scribe, an illuminator and a silversmith in relation to a prayer book commissioned by Charles the Bold (De Schryver, p. 11).  Excerpts from the “Accounts of the Treasurer of the Duke of Burgundy for the Year 1469,” as translated by De Schryver, clearly reveal the following: Nicolas Spierinc was paid for “the writing of prayers” for Charles the Bold; Jehan l’Englès, a priest, was paid for writing and illuminating “three queries”; the Treasurer’s Clerk was reimbursed for a voyage from “Vere in Zeeland to Bruges” to “fetch a devotional book of the duke’s”; Lieven van Lathem was paid for the “illumination of the duke’s little prayer book,” as well as his journey to The Hague to deliver the book to Charles;  Ernoul de Duvel, a goldsmith was paid from making and delivering gold clasps for a prayer book; and finally, in September 1469, there is record of payment to have a “devotional book of the duke’s” bound (id., pp.  265-268). 

Accordingly, there is concrete evidence that between January 1469 and September 1469, Charles the Bold paid for the creation of a small devotional book.   De Schryver’s studies of the Charles’ accounts and the actual prayer book, lead him to believe that book now known as The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold, is the very book that was commissioned and paid for in 1469.  That conclusion is based upon invoices for the number of miniatures, decorated initials and line fillers, and from clues within the actual prayer book (id., p. 35).  Charles’ accounting records for 1469 indicate that Van Lathem, the illuminator, was paid for 25 miniatures, which make up the “Documented Core” – or the first portion of The Prayer Book to be created and bound in 1469. 

Further, the attribution of Charles the Bold as the patron of The Prayer Book can be gleaned from the prayer book’s contents.  Weinstein teaches that illuminated manuscript patrons “influenced the contents of the manuscript” and often had themselves painted into the illuminations (pp. 53-54).  Charles was no exception.  

As a young man, Charles chose Saint George as his “protector” (De Schryver, p. 16). Accordingly, Charles often commissioned art to represent himself under the protection of Saint George.  In 1457, 12 years prior to commissioning The Prayer Book, Charles commissioned goldsmith Gérard Loyet to create a figurine of him kneeling under the protection of Saint George in honor of the birth of his only child, Mary of Burgundy (Image 8, below) (De Schryver, pp. 16-17). 

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In The Prayer Book, there are three miniatures of Charles under the protection of Saint George.  The first is a miniature almost identical to the Loyet figurine of Charles the Bold kneeling under the protection of Saint George (Image 9, above).  The second is a miniature of Charles the Bold in prayer presented by Saint George with an angel who holds a helmet and a banner (Image 10 below).  The coloration of the clothing, the helmet and the banner in the Saint George miniature indicates that the patron of the book was Burgundian (De Schryver, p. 15).  De Schryver teaches that a subsequent owner of the book had some of the Burgundian elements removed from the miniature.  The new owner had a fairly skilled artist remove the contents of a shield that would have included references to Charles the Bold because it “was clear that a new owner of the manuscript wanted to erase the first recipient’s most obvious marks of ownership.”       

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The third miniature of Charles with Saint George is in the form of a diptych with Saint George slaying the dragon on the left-hand leaf and with Charles being presented by an angel in the right-hand leaf (Image 11, above).  Interestingly, De Schryver asserts that not only was Charles painted into his prayer book as himself, but Charles’ facial features were also used for those of his patron saint.   Similarly, Loyet used Charles’ facial features as those of Saint George in his figurine (id., p. 17).  This was not an unusual practice; in fact, Charles’ father, Philip the Good’s features were used to illustrate Girart de Roussillon, a legendary Burgundy Chief, in a manuscript commissioned by Philip the Good (De Schryver, p. 29 n. 8).  

In addition to the illuminated depictions of Charles the Bold, the actual prayers included in the book reflect Charles commissioned the book.  For example, there is a prayer seeking protection “against the ruses and attacks of his enemies.”   That prayer, is the only prayer in the book that is written in French – all of the other prayers are written in Latin (De Schryver p. 28).  That same prayer also appeared in the Hours of Philip the Good (Charles’ father), and the Prayer Book of Philip the Bold (Charles’ grandfather) indicating that that prayer held special significance to the Grand Dukes of Burgundy (id. at p. 30, n. 28). 

After Charles’ death in 1477, the disposition of The Prayer Book is uncertain.  However, there is evidence that a subsequent owner of The Prayer Book added 8 miniatures within the final 33 folia (id., p. 286).  While the subsequent owners of The Prayer Book are part of the book’s provenance, they will be addressed separately at the end of the blog. 

The scribe “was the first person to work on the pages of a book” (Weinstein, p. 30).  Both men and women were scribes.  The word “manuscript” is a combination of the Latin for hand manus and the Latin for the verb to write scribere (id.).  While scribes originated in monasteries, by the 15th century many noble households, including that of Philip the Good, employed personal scribes (Weinstein, p. 33). 

The calligraphy in The Prayer Book is attributed to Nicolas Spierinc of Ghent  (Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum, p. 91).  There is extensive documentation regarding the payment in January 1469 from Charles the Bold to Spierinc for the calligraphy of The Prayer Book  (De Schryver, pp. 31-32).   There is some speculation as to whether Spierinc was an illuminator as well as a calligrapher.  De Schryver indicates that on one bill of sale, Spierinc was identified as “enlumineur d’istoires” (id., p. 249).  Accordingly, in addition to scribing the text of The Prayer Book, Spierinc may have also assisted in its illumination. 

Spierinc was enrolled at the University at Ghent, but eventually moved to Antwerp to collaborate with Lieven van Lathem (id., p. 69).   De Schryver speculates that Lieven van Lathem, the illuminator, and Spierinc traveled together from Antwerp to The Hague to present Charles with his prayer book (id., p. 69).  Spierinc’s only surviving documented works are The Prayer Book and one other manuscript written for the Court of Burgundy (id., p. 77).  Absent documentation, there are several other manuscripts that have been attributed to Spierinc based upon the quality of the work and the patrons for whom the works were created (id.). 

  The script of Spierinc is described as “a very meticulous and quite slender bâtarde, with cadels and often important jeux de plume” (De Schryver, p. 271). 

During the late Middle Ages, at the time The Prayer Book was created, illuminators were lay people, as opposed to the earlier illuminators who traditionally were clergy members or part of a monastic center (Brown, pp. 70-71).  As Weinstein teaches, many of the medieval illuminators were anonymous and now are known only as “masters” of the surviving works (p. 47).  However, by the 15th century, “the status of artists had risen, and more began to be know by name” (id., p. 48). 

The first person to study and write about The Prayer Book, was Count Paul Durrieu who acquired The Prayer Book in 1900.  Count Durrieu attributed the illumination of The Prayer Book to Philippe de Mazerolles, who was the official illuminator to Charles the Bold (De Schryver, p. 11).  It does not appear that Count Durrieu had any evidence of de Mazerolles’ involvement in the illumination of The Prayer Book, other than his position as “official illuminator” to Charles the Bold.  Later scholarship on The Prayer Book has uncovered more persuasive evidence that Lieven van Lathem was the illuminator of the miniatures commissioned by Charles the Bold, not De Mazerolles as Count Durrieu had posited (id., p. 11).  Van Lathem was referred to as Lieven de schildere (“Lieven the painter”), thereby indicating that he was known for more than illumination (id., p. 50).  However, other than his illuminated manuscripts, there is no evidence of other works of Van Lathem that have survived. 

Lieven van Lathem was born around 1438 and was admitted as a teen as a master of guild of painters of Ghent in 1454 (id., p. 45).  Within two years of his admission, Van Lathem had a commission from Duke Philip the Good — the father of Charles the Bold (id.).  In 1462, Van Lathem was admitted as a master to the Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp (id., p. 47).  Once in Antwerp, Van Lathem collaborated on a prayer book for Philip the Good (id., p. 48).  According to daily pay records for illuminators, Van Lathem was paid 18 s. per day; only three masters were paid more than him (id.).  “Lieven was therefore considered a member of a small group of the most renowned masters” (id.).  In the case of The Prayer Book, Van Lathem charged Charles the Bold 200 points.  A “point” was equal “in height to one line, that is to say, to the distance between two consecutive prickings used for the ruling” (id., p. 35).  

There are records indicating that  Van Lathem took on apprentices; including two of his sons, both of whom went on to become artists in their own rights as a painter and as a goldsmith/engraver (id. pp. 51-52).  Lieven van Lathem is credited as having painted “most” of the miniatures; other illuminators probably assisted him, especially with the after-commissioned Little Hours of the Cross (Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum, p. 91).  It was common for more than one artist to work on a manuscript.  “Where the illumination was a product of a workshop, the ‘master’ would paint the main miniatures and initials and leave the borders and lesser initials to a less experienced artist” (Weinstein, p. 48).  Accordingly, Van Lathem’s sons,  or other apprentices, many have been involved in the illumination of The Prayer Book. 

                                                                                                   

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Today, the binding on The Prayer Book is a burgundy velvet adorned with eight silver corner plates (four on the front, four on the back) and a silver circular medallion.  The corner plates are marked with the “initials ‘SG’ in gothic letters, above a frieze of meanders suggesting the edge of a cloud” (De Schryver, p. 291).  The center medallion, or “boss,” is inscribed “NON TERRA DISSOLVET UNITA CELIS” around two interlocking hunting horns (id., p. 291).    The fore edge of the binding is adorned with two clasps which are decorated with the same interlocking horns as on the center medallion.  De Schryver speculated that the medallion and the clasps were “originally gilded and partially enameled . . . the horns appear to have been green; the laces, red; and the background blue” (id., p. 291). 

De Schryver speculates that the current binding was bound in the 17th century.  The payment records of Charles the Bold indicate that original binding was completed in August or September of 1469 at The Hague (id., p. 37).  Charles’ records indicate that Ernoul de Duvel, a goldsmith was hired to create a clasp for The Prayer Book.  It is believed that Ernoul de Duvel’s original clasp is not the same clasp that is on the manuscript today (Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum, p. 91).  The silver interlocking horn clasps currently on The Prayer Book were most likely added when The Prayer Book was rebound.   De Schryver notes that during the 17th century re-binding, “the manuscript was trimmed . . . which resulted in a different positioning of the miniatures on each page” (De Schryver, p. 18).  De Schryver does not rule out the possibility that the 17th century re-binding of the book could have been accomplished through the re-use of a binding from a separate book (id., 291).  

 

The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold has been described as a “prayer book” because it contains “spiritual exercises in Latin, corresponding to a particular devotion” (De Schryver, p. 26).  It is not a “Book of Hours.”  A Book of Hours is a prayer book that contains the “Hours of the Virgin.”  It was a collection of a sequential prayers to be read hourly in devotation of the Virgin Mary (Wieck, 1997, p. 9).  De Schryver speculates that The Prayer Book was often confused for a Book of Hours because of the subsequent addition of the Little Hours of the Cross, which was added to the manuscript by Charles, three to five years after the Documented Core was presented to him in 1469 (De Schryver, pp. 26, 203). 

The Prayer Book is a unique collection of prayers and illuminations created especially for Charles the Bold to convey his “own predilections” (De Schryver p. 26).  The Prayer Book as it exists today, is larger than the original book commissioned by Charles.  The Prayer Book can be divided into three distinct sections:  1) the Documented Core; 2) the Little Hours of the Cross; and 3) the Supplement, added by an unknown subsequent owner. 

THE DOCUMENTED CORE 

The Documented Core of The Prayer Book includes the first 25 miniatures and 3 devotional diptychs.    This original portion of The Prayer Book was created by Spierinc and Van Lathem between January 1469 and August 1469 (De Schryver, p. 32).  Spierinc and Van Lathem created the first nine quires of the book and delivered it for binding, which included a gold clasp by goldsmith Ernoul de Duvel (p.38).  As discussed above, that clasp is not on The Prayer Book today.  

THE LITTLE HOURS OF THE CROSS 

This section of The Prayer Book is considered to be part of The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold because it was presumptively commissioned by Charles sometime after 1471 – or at least three years after the Documented Core was presented to Charles.  It was not unusual for princes to amend or supplement their prayer books – the “unbinding and the creation of a new binding that would have entailed was not a problem in their eyes” (De Schryver, p. 41). 

No records have been found relating to the commission by Charles to create the Little Hours of the Cross.  De Schryver speculates that the eight miniatures of the Hours of the Cross are different from the folios contained in the Documented Core.   He also believes that Spierinc, the scribe, was responsible for assembling the Little Hours.  As one of the original artisans of the book, Spierinc used the same mise-en-page (id., p. 40).   With the addition of the Little Hours, the gold clasp would have to have been adapted or recast id., p. 42).  

THE SUPPLEMENT 

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The final section of the manuscript was added to The Prayer Book by a subsequent owner.  De Schryver posits that the Supplement was commissioned by someone other than Charles, based upon the lower quality of the parchment of folios 126-159 and because “the script and the style of the different elements of its illumination reveal an origin that has nothing in common with that of the first 125 folios” (De Schryver, p. 285).  A simple side by side comparison of a miniature from the Documented Core with a miniature from the Supplement, reveals a vast difference in the level of artistry.   Image 13 is a miniature of Saint Elizabeth (fol. 149v from the Supplement).  Image 14 is a miniature of Saint John (fol. 18r from the Documented Core).  The figure, the trees and the castle in Image 13, from the Supplement, appear very primitive when compared with Image 14, from the Documented Core, which is very detailed and illusionistic.  Similarly, the illumination of the two images differs vastly, with the shading in the Saint John miniature being much more advanced than the shading on the Saint Elizabeth miniature.  

Obviously, the patron of the Supplement sought to mimic the artistry of Van Lathem by maintaining the same mise-en-page and the elaborate border decoration.  But in the end, it is clear that the Supplement was not crafted by the same skilled hands that created the Documented Core and The Little Hours of the Cross.   The Supplement was certainly added in the late 15th century.  De Schryver attributes the painting of the final miniatures to the Master of the Rouen Echevinage of Normandy.   Based upon that attribution, the earliest those miniatures could have been added to The Prayer Book was most likely after 1487 (De Schryver, pp. 288-289). 

  

There are 39 miniatures  in The Prayer Book.   All of the miniatures are framed with a curve at the top of the miniatures.  Most of the miniatures measure 65 to 77 mm in height and 40 to 45 in width or 2.5 inches high by 1.5 inches wide (De Schryver, p. 272).  De Schryver does a thorough job of describing each miniature and putting it in historical context by comparing it to other artwork of the period (id. pp.97-124). 

A study of one of the miniatures, fol. 50v: the Martyrdom of Saint Appollonia, illustrates many features of Van Lathem’s miniatures and displays many technical elements of 15th Century illuminated manuscripts. 

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The miniature is illusionistic, as the castle in the background makes the miniature appear three dimensional.   In Van Lathem’s miniatures, his “glaze is led ingeniously town the distances by a picturesque succession of hillsides, slopes, clusters of trees, rocks crowned by greenery, bodies of water, castles with great round towers, views of cities more or less distant, with their ramparts, their roofs, their gables and their steeples.  All of these elements of the landscape create the illusion of extending completely naturally into the depth of a space, perceived as the image of an observed realty” (De Schryver p. 140). 

The script is immediately below the miniature of Saint Apollonia and captured within the outside framed border of the miniature.  The script in blue ink is an example of rubrication.    

Unlike most rubrication, which is scribed in red ink, the rubrics in the Documented Core and The Little Hours sections of The Prayer Book are scribed in blue ink (De Schryver, p. 238).  In the Saint Appollonia miniature, the first line is in blue ink.  Van Lathem did not make consistent use of rubrics throughout The Prayer Book.  In some cases the rubrics precede the illuminations.   In other cases, the rubrics were etched in between the illuminations; and in still other cases, there are not rubrics at all (id.).  Conversely, in the Supplement, the rubrics take the traditional color of red.  Image 18 illustrates the use of red rubrics in the Sant Gregory miniature, where the first nine lines of the script are in red ink.  Additionally, and unlike the Documented Core and The Little Hours, in the Supplements, the text of the prayers is in Latin; however, the rubrics are in French (De Schryver p. 285). 

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Everything outside of the miniature is decoration.  In the Saint Apollonia miniature, the border is decorated with a hunting scene.  In some instances, Van Lathem attempted to decorate the borders in concert with the activity occurring in the miniature.   For example, in the Saint George diptych, Image 11 discussed above, Van Lathem’s border decorations illustrate “two secondary episodes from Saint George’s legend” (De Schryver, p. 127).  On the left side of the Saint George diptych, the border decoration includes the fabled princess’ attempt to dissuade Saint George from attempting to slay the dragon.  Above that section of the border, another decoration of Saint George receiving his helmet and sword from an angel (id.). 

While The Prayer Book does not contain an incipit, each miniature is an incipit page “embellished with a large initial or monogram and display script” (Brown, p. 72).  In the case of the Saint Apollonia miniature, the embellished initial is the letter “S.”   The Prayer Book does not have an explicit. 

Codicology is “the study of the physical structure of the book, which promotes a better understanding of its production and subsequent history.” It encompasses the number of leaves used in a quire, the relative disposition of the hair and flesh sides of the parchment, the manner of pricking and ruling (and whether these processes were conducted before or after the leaves were folded, one or more leaves at a time, or with the aid of a template), and how a book was sewn and bound (Brown, p. 42).  De Schryver has created an excellent codicological description of The Prayer Book (pp. 269-283).

The folia in The Prayer Book are 123-125 mm in height and 91-96 mm in width, or roughly 5 inches in height and 3.5 inches in width (De Schryver p. 268).  Folio 41v, below, of Saint Eutropius  healing the maimed, is approximately the actual size of the folio (id, p. 95). 

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The pages of The Prayer Book are made of parchment.  Specifically, the “manuscript includes 159 folios of parchment, recently foliated in pencil, preceded and followed by unfoliated double parchment folios that form guard leaf and pastedown” (id., p. 269).  De Schryver does not specify the specific type of parchment used in The Prayer Book.  He only states that the parchment in the Supplement was of a lesser quality than of the parchment used in the Documented Core and The Little Hours.  Generally speaking, during the period that The Prayer Book was collated, parchment was made from animal skins, usually cows, sheep and goats, which had been washed and soaked in a lime and water solution, then stretched and dried on wood frames.  The skin was repeatedly scraped to create a thinner parchment.  After the proper curing of the parchment, the skins were formed into “sheets,” known as quires, which were usually 16 folios or pages.  Once the folios were folded, they were ruled to provide the scribe with a straight line on which to write.  To rule the parchment, pricks were made in the parchment align the rules on each page.  From the pricks, lines were drawn across the parchment (Weinstein, p. 29). 

De Schryver reported that “no prickings are preserved” and that “[j]ustification lines and ruling are drawn very faintly” in The Prayer Book (De Schryver, p.269).  However, in the 125 folios of The Prayer Book, the quire signatures are visible.  Quire Signatures are numbers and/or letters written in a quire that provided instruction as to the proper arrangement of the pages (Brown, p. 105).  The signatures in first 125 folios of The Prayer Book contained both numbers, letters and crosses (De Schryver, p. 268).   There are other signatures in The Prayer Book which is a letter followed by a Roman numeral.  De Schryver posits that the Roman numeral signatures were added in a “replacement of the binding” (p. 269).

Spierinc used multiple colors of ink for his calligraphy.  As discussed above, Spierinc abandoned the tradition of red rubrics and wrote the rubrics in blue.   To decorate the initials, gold, blue, pink or red were used.  The same ink that Spierinc used for the blue rubrics was also used for line fillers (De Schryver, p. 271).  De Schryver does not describe the types of ink or pigment (the coloring agent in the paints) that the scribes and illuminators used to create the manuscript.   If a chemical analysis was done on inks and pigments used on The Prayer Book, it was not referenced by De Schryver in his extensive work.  Generally, during this period, paints consisted of vegetable, mineral, animal extracts, stale urine, honey and even ear wax (Brown, p. 98).  By the time Spierinc and Van Latham were creating The Prayer Book, pigments could be purchased pre-mixed from a stationer or an apothecary (id.).  Below is a chart indicating what materials were used to create specific colors during the Renaissance period:

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There was no mention of The Prayer Book in the inventories of Charles the Bold’s estate at his death in 1477 (De Schryver, p. 13).  Perhaps The Prayer Book went to Mary of Burgundy, Charles’ only child.  

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Mary died in 1482, five years after her father.  It is then, in 1482 that the next written evidence of The Prayer Book’s owner appears – in the actual Prayer Book itself.  In the guard leaf of The Prayer Book, in “beautiful calligraphy” is the inscription ‘Je suys a Mademoiselle de Marles’ (id. at 299).  Mademoiselle de Marles was Mary of Luxembourg, the daughter of Peter II of Luxembourg (id. at 13).   De Schryver speculates that the inscription in The Prayer Book “doubtless must have been affixed at the request of whoever intended the manuscript for Mademoiselle de Marle” (id. at 299).  Presumably, The Prayer Book was a gift to Mary of Luxembourg because the calligraphy of the inscription was more professionally crafted than all of the ex libris inscriptions in the surviving manuscripts of Mary of Luxembourg (id.).    Mary of Luxembourg was married to Jacques de Romont, who served in the army of Charles the Bold (id.).  Although there is no evidence that Mary of Luxembourg was responsible for the addition of the Supplement, The Prayer Book may have been in her possession during the relevant period in which the Supplement was appended to book. 

  There are no known references to The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold for the next 200 years.  Then, with the aid of modern technology, The Prayer Book revealed another inscription.  “[I]n fluorescence under ultra-violet rays” is the inscription “Marie Jeanne de Chaussy” (id. at 300).   Marie Jeanne de Chaussy was the widow of Antioine de Choquier who was a French captain under the command of King Louis XIV’s brother Philip of Orleans from 1715 until 1723 (id.).  Additionally, in the folio of Saint John (Image 16), there appears the handwritten maxim “Sans Dieu nul bonheur” (roughly translated as “Without God there is no happiness”)  in the margin under the border of the folio.   De Schryver speculates that “it could well be a personal device and relate to Mari Jeanne de Chaussy” (id.). 

Image 20

The next owner of The Prayer Book can also be gleaned from the book itself.  At the bottom of folio 1r, there is a legible signature in dark ink, reading “H Delaroche.”  De Schryver asserts that it probably is Hippolyte (“Paul”) Delaroche, the famous  French painter, who lived between 1797 and 1865 (id.).   

The next owner of The Prayer Book was Count Paul Durrieu, the French historian, who acquired The Prayer Book at the beginning of the 20th century (id).  Count Durrieu gives support to De Schryver’s theory that Paul Delaroche had possession of The Prayer Book before him, by stating “without naming him” that the “manuscript had in the 19th century passed into the hands of a famous painter” (id.).  As discussed earlier, Count Durrieu wrote about The Prayer Book and created a rudimentary, and sometimes incorrect, history of the book.  Upon Durrieu’s death, The Prayer Book passed to his son Count Jean Durrieu, who died in 1975.  The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold was acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in 1989 (id.).  Upon its acquisition of The Prayer Book, The Getty agreed to make it available to Professor De Schryver to conduct a complete study of the book for publication (id. at 9).  

 

The Document Core of The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold represents the very best of illuminated Flemish manuscripts in the fifteenth century.  It was commissioned by one of the wealthiest men in Europe at the time – and only the finest artisans were employed in the creation of The Prayer Book.  Studying it encompasses Renaissance art, kings, wars, religious traditions and the downfall of the Duchy of Burgundy.  By studying the miniatures within The Prayer Book, all of the best Burgundian elements of  illuminated manuscripts are demonstrated in a beautiful manner.  

 This blog entry is a paltry summary of the information available about this illuminated manuscript.  For an in-depth history of the book known as The Prayer Book of Charles The Bold, Professor Schryver’s publication is a must read.  However, it is not the definitive word on The Prayer Book – there are questions still to be answered and gaps in knowledge that need to be filled.  For example, in the discussion above relating to The Prayer Book’s binding, it was noted that the initials “SG” were on the corner plates.  However, those initials do not correspond to any of the subsequent owners of The Prayer Book that we currently have information about.  Who was “SG”?  Was he or she the owner of The Prayer Book between 1483, when Mary of Luxembourg acquired the book, and 1715, when Marie Jeanne de Chaussy acquired the book?  These questions are yet to be answered by the next person interested in the history of this book.  

Anyone armed with a computer can study illuminated manuscripts, including The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold.  The Getty on-line has posted some of the miniatures from The Prayer Book, which can be accessed at  http://www.getty.edu/Search/SearchServlet?qt=charles+the+bold

If you have learned enough about Charles the Bold, you can explore other illuminated manuscripts on-line.  The Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, which is an online catalogue of “some of the western illuminated manuscripts in the British Library,” has a “Manuscript search” feature which allows the user to search for and view hundreds of illuminated manuscripts.  It can be accessed at http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/introduction.asp.  

Additionally, if you found the definitions of the technical terms in the blog useful, you will have noted that they were mostly quoted from Michelle Brown’s Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts A Guide to Technical Terms, which can  be accessed on-line at http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/GlossA.asp.     

So what are you waiting for?  Have fun exploring illuminated manuscripts with the tools of the 21st century! 

KMW

References 

Absolute astronomy: Illuminated manuscript. Retrieved March 20, 2010 from http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Illuminated_manuscript 

Alexander, J. G. (1992). Medieval illuminators and their methods of work. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. 

Brown, M. (1994). Understanding illuminated manuscripts A guide to technical terms (4th ed.). Los Angeles, California: Getty Publications. 

Calmette, J. (1963). The golden age of burgundy the magnificent dukes and their courts (D. Weightman Trans.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 

Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, British Library. Retrieved March 21, 2010 from 

          http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/illuminatedmanuscripts/introduction.asp          

Catholic encyclopedia: St. George. Retrieved March 19, 2010 from  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06453a.htm 

Cope, C. (1987). The lost kingdom of burgundy A phoenix frustrated. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. 

Darnton, R. (2009).  What is the History of Books?  In Finkelstein, D & McCleery, A. (2nd Ed.),                    The Book History Reader.  London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. 

De Hamel, C. (1986). A history of illuminated manuscripts (1st ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: David R. Godine. 

De Schryver, A. (2008). The prayer book of Charles the bold A study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim Trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 

Dictionary.com. Retrieved March 3, 2010 from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/illuminator 

Faksimile Verlag Luzern. Masterpieces of Book Illumination. (2007). The prayer book of Charles the bold. Luzern, Switzerland. 

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty museum illuminated manuscripts (1997). In Greenberg M., Holtman M. and Petralli S. W. (Eds.), . Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 

The Getty.  Retrieved March 21, 2010 from http://www.getty.edu/

Vaughan, R. (1973). Charles the bold the last valois duke of burgundy. New York: Barnes & Noble. 

Watson, R. (2003). Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 

Weinstein, K. (1997). In Evans M., Husain J. (Eds.), The art of medieval manuscripts. San Diego, California: Laurel Glen Publishing. 

Wieck, R. S. (1997). Painted prayers the book of hours in medieval and renaissance art (1st ed.). New York, New York: George Braziller, Inc., in association with The Pierpont Morgan Library. 

Images List 

Image 1.  Photograph of The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold as displayed at J. Paul Getty museum. Photograph taken by Kathleen M. Walker on February 7, 2010

Image 2.  Territories of the house of Valois-Burgundy during the reign of Charles the Bold. Reprinted under the creative commons attribution-share alike 3.0 unported license. from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_the_Bold. Marco Zanoli, author.

Image 3.  Scribe of Philip the good. Weinstein, K. (1997) in Evans M., Husain J. (eds.), the art of medieval manuscripts. San Diego, California: Laurel Glen publishing. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 4.  Coat of arms of Charles the Bold. Reprinted under the creative commons attribution-share alike 3.0 unported license from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_the_Bold on March 19, 2010

Image 5.  Charles the Bold by Peter Paul Reubens (1618). This image was retrieved http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_the_Bold, on March 19, 2010. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

Image 6.  Charles the Bold by Rogier van der Weyden (c. 1460). This image was retrieved http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_the_Bold, on March 19, 2010. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

Image 7.  Saint George and the dragon (c. 1456-1460) by Paolo Uccello. This image was retrieved http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_George, on March 20, 2010. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

Image 8.  Charles kneeling under the protection of Saint George. Gerard Loyet (c. 1457). De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold A study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 9.  Charles the Bold kneeling under the protection of Saint George. fol. 6r from The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold a study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 10.  Charles the Bold kneeling in prayer presented by Saint George. fol. 1r from The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold A study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 11.  The Saint George diptych. fols. 67v-68r from The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold A study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 12.  The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. Faksimile Verlag Luzern. masterpieces of book illumination. (2007). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. Luzern, Switzerland. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

 

Image 13.  Saint Elizabeth. fol. 149v from The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold A study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 14.  Saint John on Patmos. fol. 18r from The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold a study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 15.  The martyrdom of Saint Apollonian. fol. 50v from The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold A study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 16.  Mass of Saint Gregory at the beginning of the passion according to Saint John. fol. 126r from The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold A study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 17.  Saint Entropies healing the maimed. fol. 41v from The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold. De Schryver, A. (2008). The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold A study of a Flemish masterpiece from the Burgundian court (J. Berenbeim trans.). Los Angeles, California: The J. Paul Getty museum. Reprinted without permission for nonprofit educational purposes pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 107.

Image 18.  Color chart of pigment materials. Reprinted under the creative commons attribution-share alike 3.0 unported license from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illuminated_manuscript on March 20, 2010.

Image 19.  Mary of burgundy (c. 1500) by Niklas Reiser. This image was retrieved http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_of_Burgundy, on March 19, 2010. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

Image 20.  Paul Delaroche. This image was retrieved http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Delaroche on March 21, 2010. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

©Kathleen M. Walker, March 2010.

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