Book of Hours: Images of the Life of Christ and the Saints


This manuscript, a book of hours from the late 13th century, is comprised of 87 full-page illuminations illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the lives of saints. The book is a Cistercian church calendar in Latin. The other text to be found in the work is a short caption under each image. When it was first created, the codex included 90 illuminations. A masterpiece of gothic illumination, the manuscript shows how important religious images were for the devotions of its owner. This most likely was a wealthy lay woman, probably Marie de Rethel, lady of Enghien (circa 1231−1315), who lived in Mons, in the county of Hainaut and diocese of Cambrai. Another possible owner could have been Marie of Gavre, a Cistercian from Wauthier-Braine near Nivelles, also in the diocese of Cambrai. The paintings are by two artists: Master Henri and an anonymous painter who was, however, more involved in the work and who painted the most beautiful illustrations. The style of the illuminations shows influences from the artistic traditions of France, England, and the Holy Roman Empire. The presence of local saints such as Gertrude of Nivelles (626−59), Waudru (died circa 688), Lambert, and others links the manuscript to the diocese of Cambrai.

Last updated: October 17, 2017