Richly illuminated with forty-five miniatures embellished with gold, the Book of Hours of Philip II is a precious codex that was created in the scriptorium of the Real Monasterio de El Escorial, where the manuscript is still preserved. The relevance of the manuscript resides in its content, which includes devotional texts written for the royal house of Philip II, and especially in the elegant miniatures inspired by the art of Giulio Clovio.
A Jewel in the Monastery of El Escorial
The codex displays a large number of full-page miniatures. Vivid marginalia adorned with architectures, animals, and floral motifs, along with fictive cameos and jewels, decorate the codex throughout.
While the initials of the major sections are decorated with floral patterns, the whole book displays an elegant and regular script that resembles the printed words.
The manuscript contains an opening Calendar followed by the prayer book which includes remarkable devotional texts such as the two prayers dedicated to the parents of Philip II, Emperor Charles V, and Isabella of Portugal.
An additional prayer was written for his wife Mary of Portugal, Elizabeth of France, his son Don Carlos, and his aunts Leanor and Maria, the sisters of the Emperor.
Giulio Clovio Inspired the Illuminations
The monks Julián de la Fuente el Saz, Andrés de León, and Martín de Palencia wrote and illuminated the manuscript. They found inspiration in the Mannerist painting of Giulio Clovio, an influential illuminator who was born in Croatia and active in Italy.
Giulio Clovio painted famous manuscripts such as the Farnese Book of Hours, the Atlas of Charles V, and the Triumphs of Charles V. Along with original iconographies, the Book of Hours of Philip II shows a magnificent miniature of the Burial of Our Lord which opens the sections of the prayers for the members of the family of Philip II.