Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce 112

Flemish Book of Hours of Marie de Medici Facsimile Edition

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Written and illuminated in the first quarter of 16th century the Flemish book of hours of Marie de Medici represents a beautiful example of the artistic perfection of Flemish art. The codex includes 3 full-size illuminations, 42 full-page miniatures, countless historiated or golden initials, and borders feature Flemish and Italianate flowers.

The Master of the David Scenes at the Apex of his Career

The Flemish book of hours of Marie de Medici was almost certainly commissioned by a wealthy woman from the area of Ghent or Bruges and produced between 1515 and 1520 by an anonymous artist known as the Master of the David Scenes in the Grimani Breviary, who is considered one of the greatest Flemish masters along with Gerard Horenbout and Simon Bening.

With the Flemish book of hours of Marie de Medici the David Master reached the apex of his career and artistic maturity creating one of the most elaborately ornamented works ever to come out of his studio. It is visible in all miniatures that the illuminator took great pleasure in telling and depicting stories.

Another outstanding feature of his art is his love for architecture: details of the city streets and squares are faithfully rendered, permitting us to see inside late Gothic churches, studios, and private chambers.

The Ghent-Bruges School and the Three-Dimensional Technique

The Ghent-Bruges School, at a time when the printed book had already celebrated its victory over the handwritten manuscript, managed to remain one of the leading centers of manuscript illumination, for the last-flowering of manuscript illustration began expanding throughout Europe.

Among the many features of the school the perfect mastery over the depiction of spatial perspective is worth of notice transforming two-dimensional book pages into three-dimensional spaces.

This mastery is strictly related to the development of Dutch realism, in which the illuminators – despite the small format of their works – showcased the skills of panel painting. Finally, the innovative type of border, strewn with flowers and insects – according to the trompe l’oeil technique – was further developed allowing for new creativity.

Ownership of the Flemish Book of Hours of Marie de Medici

This book of hours owes its current name to one of the later owners, the French queen, Marie de Medici (1573-1642), widow of the popular King Henri IV.  Having to leave France in 1631, at the behest of her son, Louis XIII, she went into exile in Brussels, where she may have acquired the enchanting illuminated manuscript, before finally moving to Cologne where she died in 1642.

It is worth of notice an inscription in English on the inside page of the front cover stating that she left the book of hours in Cologne where an English manuscript collector, Francis Douce, may have acquired the book. Ultimately, the Flemish book of hours of Marie de Medici was donated to the world-famous Bodleian Library in Oxford in 1834.

Gothica Bastarda

The script of the Flemish book of hours of Marie de Medici exhibits a beautiful example of Gothica Bastarda, also known as lettre bâtarde, typical of France and the Low Countries. Despite being styled from the cursive script, it became a formal bookhand in its own right, and it features a contrast between thin and thick strokes. 

Binding description


Silver, velvet, and silk.

We have 1 facsimile edition of the manuscript "Flemish Book of Hours of Marie de Medici": Das Flämische Stundenbuch der Maria von Medici facsimile edition, published by Quaternio Verlag Luzern, 2011

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Manuscript book description compiled by the publisher.
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Das Flämische Stundenbuch der Maria von Medici

Lucerne: Quaternio Verlag Luzern, 2011

  • Commentary (English, German) by König, Eberhard; Kidd, Peter
  • Limited Edition: 680 copies
  • Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document, Flemish Book of Hours of Marie de Medici: 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.

The commentary volume to the facsimile edition provides a detailed description of every miniature, thus allowing the reader to discover all of the richly imagined detail in each illumination. A description of the codicology of the signatures and a reconstruction of the book’s intriguing history across the centuries are also featured in the commentary.


The original 16th century volume binding is in burgundy-red velvet and elaborately ornamented with silver and colored silk thread embroidery on both front and back covers, as well as the spine. Both volumes—the facsimile and the commentary—are delivered in an acrylic glass case, which protects the valuable edition from dust, yet at the same time allows it to be decoratively displayed. The binding of the facsimile is a faithful replica of this magnificent Renaissance binding.

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approx US$ 6,482

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