The Hours of Joanna I of Castile


The illuminations in this exceptional Book of Hours (also known as the London Rothschild Prayerbook) are the work of Gerard Horenbout, the leading Flemish illuminator of the 16th century, and Alexander Bening and his atelier, who painted most of the miniatures of the Suffrages of the Saints.

The miniatures are characterised by their three-dimensional realism and great sophistication, particularly those illustrating the Passion cycle. The faces charged with emotion, along with the liveliness and realism of the illuminated scenes make this codex one of the most impressive works by the Flemish artist.

The lavishness of the manuscript suggests that it was commissioned by a monarch. The references to St John the Baptist, St Ildephonsus and St Isidore are indicative of a member of the Spanish royalty: maybe Joanna the Mad, Queen of Castile.

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