The Book of Hours of Marguerite d'Orléans

    exquisite examples of fifteenth-century French illumination giving a glimpse of life in the Middle Ages

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Marguerite d'Orléans is remembered for the Book of Hours that bears her name. The magnificent miniatures are among the most striking of the time but it is the inspired marginalia illustrating aspects of life in the Middle Ages that gives this manuscript historical importance as well as being a jewel of 15th century art.

Marguerite d'Orléans (1404-1466) was a member of the French aristocracy, granddaughter of Charles V, and great-niece of Jean, Duc de Berry. Her grandfather’s collection constituted the foundation of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, and her great uncle was considered the greatest bibliophile of the Middle Ages.


Marguerite married Richard d’Etampes, Duke of Brittany, and in that same year (1426) the Duke commissioned an illuminator in the Breton city of Rennes to create a book of hours that might have been wedding gift. Many images show the joint coats-of-arms of the couple, or their initials "r&m". One particular illustration of the prayer Obsecro te ("I beseech you") is a woman in prayer before the Virgin and Child and behind her is the Brittany and Orleans coat of arms, confirmation that the woman was Marguerite, sister of the prince-poet Charles d'Orléans.

The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans

Examining the Book of Hours of Marguerite d'Orléans  gives an abundance of information about everyday life in the 15th century. The surrounding borders make this book of hours one of the most interesting testimonies to feudal life around 1430.


Those 41 miniatures situated in the main section with their original borders— ornamented in brilliant gold or shimmering silver—were made around the year 1430. They are all from the hand of the “Master of Marguerite d'Orléans”, who is identified today through the outstanding work he did on this masterpiece. It is believed that he trained in Paris and may have been a pupil of the Boucicaut Master, due to his skilful adaptation of many of the Boucicaut Master’s stylistic elements. His first commissions took him to Bourges, where the Limbourg brothers had their workshop. So it is not surprising that there are indications in the Book of Hours of Marguerite d'Orléans that he was familiar with their work.

 

Originally, the Master specialized in illustrating secular, literary texts such as chronicles, wonders of the world, and secrets of nature. But as a consequence of the Hundred Years’ War, he probably was forced to turn to illuminating books of hours. Yet, he did not lose his tendency to tell stories, drawing equally on ancient sagas and contemporary events from the Hundred Years’ War for his material.

In the 1450s Marguerite d'Orléans had her Book of Hours updated according to the taste of the times. Etienne Sauderat, from the circle of the Bedford Master, added decorative elements to some of the borders.

The eighteenth-century leather binding is thought to be the work of Antoine-Michel Padeloup, the royal bookbinder to Louis XV and the Marquise de Pompadour, who had perfected the technique of making magnificent leather bindings embellished with gold leaf.

Addison Publications is proud to offer The Book of Hours of Marguerite d'Orléans in a worldwide limited to only 680 numbered Fine Art facsimiles in a faithful recreation showing even the finest details of the original shining gold leaf and the brushed gold and silver parts. Just like the original, the facsimile is bound in red leather with additional colour added to small sections of the binding. The delicate gold embossing on the front and back covers, on the spine, and edges make the binding a unique treasure for the bibliophile.

A commentary volume by Professor Eberhard König, art historian and expert in illuminated French Gothic manuscripts, and Christine Seidel, both of Freie Universität Berlin, introduce you to the achievements in fifteenth-century illumination attained by the extraordinary artist, the Master of Marguerite d'Orléans

Click here to receive an illustrated brochure and full details about how to acquire a copy of the facsimile edition of The Book of Hours of Marguerite d'Orléans

The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans