Da Costa Hours, in Latin
Illuminated by Simon Bening, (1483/84-1561)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910
Known as the Da Costa Hours after its second owner, Don Alvaro da Costa, chamberlain to King Manuel I of Portugal, this masterpiece is by Flanders's last great illuminator, Simon Bening. Among other elements, Bening is known for religious scenes infused with quiet dignity, solid figure types, lush landscapes, trompe-l'oeil borders, and keen observation of detail. This striking miniature includes all these characteristics. The image, marking the start of a prayer to all martyrs, illustrates the numerous ways by which Christians have been put to death for their faith over the centuries.