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Collections | Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Da Costa Hours image

April: Farmyard Scene
Da Costa Hours, in Latin
Illuminated by Simon Bening (1483/84–1561)
Belgium, Bruges, ca. 1515
6 3/4 x 5 inches (172 x 125 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; MS M.399 (fols. 5v–6)
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Known as the Da Costa Hours because of its second owner, Don Alvaro da Costa, chamberlain to Manuel I of Portugal, this masterpiece is by Simon Bening, the last great Flemish illuminator. Famous and sought after during his lifetime, he was regarded, along with Giulio Clovio, as one of the five greatest illuminators of his day. The manuscript is celebrated for its cycle of full-page calendar illustrations that accurately portray the passing of the seasons. Such cycles had not occurred in Flemish manuscripts since their initial and singular appearance, almost exactly a century earlier, in the Très Riches Heures of the duc de Berry, which Bening must have seen.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.