Prayer Book of George of Poděbrady


Commissioned by Joanna of Rožmitál (d. 1475) for her husband, King George of Poděbrady (1420–1471), this prayer book opens with a small image of the king at his devotions, at right. The page is nearly overwhelmed by the lush, old-fashioned border decoration, which includes five coats of arms identifying the king’s territorial holdings. Added a decade later, the full-page miniature of the Virgin and Child was painted by Valentin Noh, who based many of his compositions on engravings. The miniatures added to George’s prayer book testify to the increasing importance of prints as a means of disseminating ideas and to the lively interplay across different artistic media. The prayer book is written in Czech, unsurprising given the king’s Hussite sympathies.

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"Prayer Book of George of Poděbrady," in Czech
Illuminated by Valentin Noh and the Master of the Schellenberg Bible
Czech Republic (Bohemia), Prague, 1466 and ca. 1470s
The Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.921, fols. 2v–3r
Gift of the Fellows, with funds from the Belle da Costa Greene Fund, 1965