Book of Hours

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MS M.307
Book of Hours
Bruges, Belgium, ca. 1520.
19th-century red morocco, the inscription on the spine reads "REL. P. BOZERIAN JEUNE"; lettered: Praeces Piae - Manuscriptus in membranis; light blue moiré doublures in a 17th-century (?) red morocco case with gilt dentelle tooling.
Purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1907.
176 leaves (1 column, 16 lines), bound : vellum, ill. ; 80 x 60 mm
Signed G.G. on fol. 145v, possibly initials of first owner (in bas-de-page genre scene, woman is embroidering these initials in gold onto the blanket draped over a unicorn); said to have come from the Van Horn collection (possibly Baron van Hoorn); sold in Paris in 1809; purchased by J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) from J. & S. Goldschmidt of Frankfurt on Apr. 29, 1907; J.P. Morgan (1867-1943).

Ms. book of hours for the use of Rome (Hours of the Virgin); written and illuminated in Bruges, Belgium, ca. 1520.
Decoration: 27 full-page miniatures, 12 calendar miniatures, 2 historiated borders, and 8 borders with genre scenes.
Artist: Simon Bening.


Simon Bening's illumination in this codex is extremely delicate. The landscape is more advanced than than in the Da Costa Hours and subtler than in the equally small Van Damme Hours. This may be partially due to Bening's greater participation in the book, relying less on workshop assistance. Shown here is The Flight into Egypt, which exemplifies Bening's keen interest in depicting landscape and weather conditions. The miniature also attests to his attention to detail: note, to the right of the Virgin's head, the tiny gold statue that has toppled from the column on the hill. The idol's fall symbolizes the collapse of the old pagan world.