Artists from Ghent and Bruges produced this remarkable Book of Hours between the end of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century. The manuscript is lavishly decorated with full-page and half-page miniatures, and ornaments in the margins depicting flowers, fruits, and small animals. Along with the traditional decoration found in Flemish book of hours, this exemplar shows original iconographies. A full-page illumination represents the sacrament of the Confession in a Gothic church, in which the nave of the splendid architecture is rendered in details including altars and altarpieces in the background.
The Vatican Library Book of Hours: An Elegant Book of Flemish Illumination
The style of the miniatures indicates that the codex is connected to the illuminations of Flemish artists such as Robert Campin, Jan Van Eyck, Hugo van der Goes and Gerard David. The name of the illuminators of the Book of Hours at the Vatican Library is not known, however, the high quality of the miniatures suggests he might have belonged to the circles of these major artists.
Full-page miniatures mark the main sections of the codex. From an artistic point of view, also the floral margins and the regular and elegant script play an important role in the embellishment of the precious codex.
The Original Texts Contained in the Vatican Library Book of Hours
The text contained in the Book of Hours takes distance from the traditional content of this kind of devotional books. The manuscript contains several sermons, texts for meditation, prayers, along with the traditional suffrages and litanies.
The Hours are enriched with the psalters of St. Augustine and Jerome, the contrition for the sins, the prayers to the heart of Christ and the sermons of St. Bernard and Bede. The book also contains the liturgy for the dedication of a church and prayers to be recited before traveling.