Made in France around 1510, the Barberini Book of Hours for Rouen is a colorful and multifaceted example of private devotional book decorated in a style between late Gothic and northern Renaissance. Its over 100 parchment folios boast 17 full-page miniatures, 44 illuminated scenes, and almost 200 borders glowing with the most exquisite floral and architectural motifs.
The Latin codex, penned in Gothic bastard script, contains a book of hours in the use of Rome and a calendar for Rouen written in French.
The illuminators merged old French tradition with new inspiration imported from Italy, as well as Flemish influences, which is visible especially in the borders, so colorful and filled with such intensely depicted flowers that one would think it possible to pick them from the page.
All borders are adorned in multiple styles ranging from late Gothic — geometric shapes filled with crosses, hearts, and fleur-de-lis — to Renaissance — architecture elements, fountains, heads.
Marvelously decorated initials enriched with gold leaf and outlined in black on intense blue ground mark the beginning of psalms, readings, and prayers. The rubrics, also penned in blue, and the sepia brown text, enhance the folios’ elegance, together with innumerable line-fillers decorated in blue, brown, and burnished gold. Some of the decorated initials are large and feature flower and acanthus motifs.
The Book of Hours presumably reached the Barberini library under Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini) (1623-1644). When the library was included in the Vatican Library, the Book of Hours was added to its collection.