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The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans

The Book of Hours of Marguerite d’Orléans

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

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.

 

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.

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