The Savoy Hours
An exquisite 14th Century Book of Hours with a fascinating history, named after Blanche of Burgundy, granddaughter of St Louis of France and widow of Count Edward of Savoy.
Manuscript illumination in Europe flourished in Paris in the 13th and 14th Centuries, and the atelier of Jean Pucelle was one of those favoured by the aristocracy and wealthy patrons, including Charles V, king of France and duc de Berry - two of France’s illustrious bibliophiles. In the 1330’s, Blanche of Burgundy, commissioned this atelier to create a Book of Hours a practice prevalent at the time amongst her peers.
What was so remarkable about The Savoy Hours being ‘unlike any Book of Hours previously produced.’?
Exceptionally luxurious, with an unusually large number of illustrations containing liturgical offices and prayers. The book was a heroic production. Apart from its opulently decorated pages with their background of ornamented gold, framed by a delicate curving foliage border, the scene is contained within a quatrefoil shape banded, in tricolours of blue, white and red, framing and enhancing the narrative. A most spectacular creation,
In previous Books of Hours, the owner is typically depicted praying at a distance from the holy events illustrated, in effect separated in time, place and position between the event and the supplicant. What was unusual about The Savoy Hours is that its owner, Blanche, though devoutly kneeling, is frequently portrayed next to the saints, occupying divine space, implying equality with the saints.
The Savoy Hours facsimile of the remaining pages is accompanied by a commentary volume by Raymond Clemens, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts at the Yale University Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and Roger S. Wieck, Department Head of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at The Morgan Library and Museum. This volume will expand on the eventful history of this remarkable book and provide further background information about Blanche of Burgundy, Charles V, duc de Berry and the workshop of Jean Pucelle.