Incredibly Beautiful: The Prayer Book of Claude de France

The Morgan Library has put up a digital facsimile of this tiny prayer book, along with an excellent illustrated lecture on its significance. The book is a companion to the Book of Hours, and is less than 3″x2.5″  in size with dazzling illuminations.  The Morgan describes this recent aquisition as

a tiny, jewel-like manuscript that was made for Claude (1499–1524) around 1517, the year she was crowned queen of France. Her coat of arms appears on three different folios. The book is richly illustrated: the borders of each leaf are painted, front and back, with 132 scenes from the lives of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and numerous saints. The manuscript and a companion Book of Hours also made for the queen (in a Paris private collection) were illuminated by an artist who was given the nickname Master of Claude de France after these two volumes. Active in the French city of Tours during the first quarter of the sixteenth century, the artist worked in a style that can be characterized as the pinnacle of elegance. The colors of his delicate palette are applied in tiny, seemingly invisible brushstrokes. Only about a dozen manuscripts painted by the artist survive.

Absolutely magnificent.

Detail