MBS The Prayer Book of Claude de France - 2 3/4 by 2 inches
- Dear collector friends!
I found at the web a very interesting online exhibition
of one of the most beautiful miniature book of hours:
best greetings from Vienna
:-) Arno Gschwendtner
The Morgan Library & Museum presents a special exhibition of an
extremely rare Renaissance illuminated manuscript, the Prayer Book of
Queen Claude de France, created around the time of her coronation in
1517. It is the most important single illuminated manuscript acquired
by the Morgan in the last twenty-five years and on view in the East
Room of the historic McKim building.
The tiny, jewel-like book, measuring just 2 3/4 by 2 inches, is richly
illustrated with 132 scenes from the lives of Christ, the Virgin Mary,
the apostles, and numerous saints. The work was created by an artist
known as the Master of Claude de France and can be characterized as
the pinnacle of delicacy in Renaissance illumination. The artist,
named after this prayer book and a companion manuscript, was active in
Tours during the first quarter of the sixteenth century. Barely a
dozen of his works survive.
The prayer book was given to the Morgan by Mrs. Alexandre P.
Rosenberg, a long time generous supporter of the Museum. The gift is
in memory of her husband Alexandre Paul Rosenberg, who died in 1987.
Mr. Rosenberg was founding president in 1962 of the Art Dealers
Association of America and was for many years a prominent art dealer
in New York.
The manuscript includes a bookplate designed by Pablo Picasso, an
artist whose works Mr. Rosenberg exhibited in his gallery. Mr.
Rosenberg collected early printed books and illuminated manuscripts;
the Prayer Book of Queen Claude is considered the crown jewel of the
The book's miniature scenes are painted in a range of soft purples,
mauves, and roses in tiny, sometimes almost invisible brushstrokes.
Especially delicate is the artist's handling of atmospheric
perspective, which he used to both lighten and multiply the soft
colors in the landscapes and cities that fill many backgrounds in the
The exhibition of the prayer book includes a second, related
manuscript, the Prayer Book of Anne de Bretagne. Anne was Claude's
mother and queen of France as the wife first of King Charles VIII and
then King Louis XII. This manuscript, which was commissioned around
1495 by Anne for her son, was illuminated by Jean Poyer, a leading
Tours illuminator in whose workshop the Claude Master is now thought
to have trained. Side by side, the two juxtapose a mother's book with
her daughter's and the work of one illuminator with that of his protégé.
The exhibition includes a panel with enlargements of many of the
illuminations, allowing visitors to see more closely the detail and
delicacy of the Claude Master's creations. In addition, visitors can
view the complete manuscript on screens in the Morgan's computer
alcove on the main floor of the museum.
In 1514, at age fourteen, Princess Claude married François
d'Angoulême, who became King François I of France the next year.
Claude and François produced seven children in their ten years of
marriage, including their second son, King Henry II of France. Queen
Claude died in 1524 at age twenty-four.
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of Gifford Combs.
Christie's is the corporate sponsor.