Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, MS Lat. I.104

Book of Hours of Maria of Navarre Facsimile Edition

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The luxurious Book of Hours of Maria of Navarre was probably commissioned by Peter IV, the "Ceremonious," King of Aragon, for his wife, Maria of Navarre, within four years of their marriage in 1338. In addition to celebrating the legacy of the Parisian queen’s family, the extravagant codex is a significant monument of Spanish book illumination. The manuscript features almost 400 illuminations in the form of full-page miniatures, opulently ornamented borders, and a wealth of historiated and decorated initials, in delicate, lively colors and with the abundant use of gold on every single page.

The decoration and texts of the manuscript—a book for Christian private devotions— were personalized for the queen consort. Among the prayer services featured in the manuscript are the Hours of Saint Louis, of whom Maria of Navarre was a direct descendant.

A Monument of Catalan Illumination

The manuscript's illumination is attributed to the close collaboration of two or three illuminators. If three, they should be identified as Ferrer Bassa, his son Arnau Bassa, and a painter who often collaborated with them known as the Baltimore Master—the last named for a triptych in the Walters Art Museum. Another example of their teamwork is a portable altarpiece featuring scenes from the lives of Christ, the Virgin, and saints (New York, The Morgan Library & Museum).

Court artist to the house of Aragon, Ferrer Bassa was active as a panel painter and illuminator in Catalonia between 1321 and 1348. Ferrer Bassa's participation in the illumination of Maria's book of hours is documented in a letter dated April 26, 1342, in which King Peter made an urgent request that Maria send him the beautiful book of hours that was painted by "Ferrerius Bassa." The letter emphasizes the esteem in which the king held this extraordinary work of art and also gives a terminus ante quem (point before which) for the creation of the book.

Celebrating Family Heritage

The manuscript's personalization for Maria is evident not only in the inclusion of the Hours of Saint Louis but also in the nine images of the queen, which are complemented by sixteen shields bearing her heraldry. The manuscript, which was acquired by the Biblioteca Marciana in 1974, is understood to be the first book of hours illuminated on the Iberian Peninsula.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Book of Hours of Maria of Navarre": Libro de Horas de María de Navarra facsimile edition, published by M. Moleiro Editor, 1995

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Manuscript book description compiled by Erene Rafik Morcos.
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Libro de Horas de María de Navarra

Barcelona: M. Moleiro Editor, 1995

  • Commentary (English abstract, Spanish, German abstract) by Zorzi, Marino; Marcon, Susy; Arnall, Josefa; Yarza Luaces, Joaquin; García De La Mora, Jose M.
  • Limited Edition: 987 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Book of Hours of Maria of Navarre: the facsimile attempts to replicate the look-and-feel and physical features of the original document; pages are trimmed according to the original format; the binding might not be consistent with the current document binding.


Deep red leather embossed in gold.

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