The Van Damme Hours, written and illuminated in Bruges, Belgium and dated 1531, is named after its Flemish scribe, Antonius van Damme (active 1495–c. 1545). Although not a documented work, its superb illuminations are the work of Simon Bening (1483/84–1561), the last and greatest Flemish illuminator of the sixteenth century. The manuscript contains all of the stylistic and iconographic elements that comprise the oeuvre of Bening, including the charming illustrated calendar images in which he specialized. Van Damme and Bening had a professional, and surely also a personal, relationship for fifty years.
The book’s textual contents, which are atypical of a conventional Book of Hours, provide clues as to its original owner. It includes a selection of the typical texts found in Books of Hours: a Calendar, the Hours of the Virgin, the Mass of the Virgin, the Hours of the Conception of the Virgin, the Penitential Psalms and Litany, and a series of prayers and Suffrages.The book of hours was purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan, in 1911.
This facsimile features a foil-stamped cover that imitates the original silver filigree binding. It replicates the book's size and contains all 12 calendar illustrations and 32 full-page miniatures.