Of exceptional size and quality, this Book of Hours was painted by two artists of the circle of Jacquemart Pilavaine, one of the most celebrated illuminators in the Hainaut and an associate of Simon Marmion. Its thirteen large miniatures and lavish border decorations showcase Pilavaine’s work on an unusually generous scale, uncommon for Hours of this period. Maintaining its original binding and elegant edge-painting, this manuscript is a rare offering from the “Golden Age” of Netherlandish illumination. 

191 folios on parchment, modern foliation in pencil in lower corner, 1-187 (another incomplete foliation in upper corner not used here), the pastedown and first three leaves ruled, otherwise originally blank, missing 7 leaves before folios 25, 68, 77, 81, 92, 114, and 125 (undoubtedly each with a miniature), collation impracticable, mostly in quires of 8 folios, quire signatures survive sporadically [a] – z, written in black ink in gothic rotunda on 16 lines, single column, Calendar written in red and black, ruled in red ink (justification 105 × 65 mm), red rubrics, line-fillers, 1- and 2-line champie initials, 3-line initials with foliate infill, one-sided borders of colored and guilt acanthus leaves and stylized foliage terminated in flowers and fruit throughout, 13 LARGE MINIATURES each within full border incorporating flowers, fruit, and birds (parrots, peacocks, pheasants, etc.) accompanied by a three-line foliate initial, early 16th-century heraldic frontispiece of lion rampant bearing arms, a few leaves with slight cockling, otherwise in good condition. LATE-MEDIEVAL BINDING, sewn on four tawed bands laced into wood boards covered with polished brown calf (16th-century heraldic frontispiece leaf glued in), finely blind-tooled with three small tools, two square, the third round a fleur-de-lis in a lozenge, a quadruped, and a small fleur-de-lis, the outer edges very skillfully repaired, but overall in very fine condition. ORIGINAL EDGE-PAINTING of red and green scrolling plant designs on a gold ground. Dimensions 240 × 165.


1. Written for a woman (“famule tue,” f.173r), certainly in Hainaut (perhaps Mons) for use in or near Binche (between Mons and Charleroi). The calendar and rubrics include Picard spellings (“Vinchien,” “Franchois,” “tierche,” etc.), and the only local saints in red are Ghislain of Cambrai (October 9) and Nicaise of Reims (December 14); the second to eighth saints in the litany are a very rare group: Ursmarus, Erminus, Theodulphus, Ulgistus, Amoluinus, Abel, and Hydulphus, all of whose relics were at Binche. Six abbots of Lobbes in the Hainaut also follow Silvester among the confessors in the litany.

2. The arms of a 16th-century owner and his wife occupy a full-page frontispiece. These are held by a lion rampant, its head in a helm with mantling, surmounted by a crest in the form of a bearded man wearing a cloak and conical hat with a feather. His arms are argent, a bar azure, in chief a leopard sable; hers are impaled on a lozenge with arms on the sinister side: argent, three torteaux gules with a label of three points azure. The arms date from the period of the rule of Mary of Hungary, Governor of the Hapsburg Netherlands, who built a palace at Binche in 1546-1548.

3. Owned in Paris in the second quarter of the 20th century with a two-page description with the ink stamp of “Librairie Ancienne Denis,” and a twelve-page description signed by Alexandre Benois (1870-1960), former Curator of Old Masters at the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, who lived in Paris from 1927.

4. Private Collection, Germany. 


ff. 1-12v, Calendar, in French;

ff. 13-15v, various prayers: Pater noster (f. 13), Ave Maria (f. 13v), Credo (f. 13v), Benedicte dominus nos (f. 14v), Ave salus mundi verbum patris hostia (f. 14v), Confiteor Deo omnipotenti (f. 14v), Misereatur vestri omnipotens deus (f. 15); In manus tuas comendo spiritum meum (f. 15v), Agimus tibi gratias rex omnipotens deus (f. 15v), Fidelium animae per misericordiam (f. 15v); 

f. 16-25v, Hours of the Cross: Matins (f. 16), Prime (f. 17v), Terce (f. 18v), Sext (f. 20v), None (f. 22), Vespers (f. 23v), Compline (f. 23, begins imperfectly missing leaf with miniature and incipit between ff. 22 and 23);

f. 26-33v, Hours of the Holy Spirit with additional prayers to the Holy Spirit and the Virgin: Matins (f. 26), Prime (f. 27), Terce (f. 28), Sext (f. 28v), None (f. 29v), Vespers (f. 30), Compline (f. 31),  Veni creator spiritus (f. 32), Salve Regina (f. 33v); 

f. 34-105v, Hours of the Virgin with seasonal variants with French rubrics: Matins (f. 34), Lauds (f. 46), Prime (f. 68, begins imperfectly missing leaf with miniature between ff. 67 and 68), Terce (f. 72v), Sext (f. 77, begins imperfectly missing leaf with miniature and incipit between ff. 76 and 77), None (f. 81, begins imperfectly missing leaf with miniature and incipit between ff. 80 and 81), Vespers (f. 85v), Compline (f. 93, begins imperfectly missing leaf with miniature and incipit between ff. 92 and 93), Seasonal variants with French rubrics (f. 97v);

ff. 106-118v, The Seven Penitential Psalms; 

ff. 118v-125, The Litanies; 

f. 125, The Verses of St Bernard; 

ff. 126-174v, Office of the Dead, with nocturns: Vespers (f. 126, begins imperfectly missing leaf with miniature and incipit between ff. 125 and 126), Matins (f. 134), first nocturn (f. 135v), second nocturn (f. 143v), third nocturn (f. 151), Lauds 160v, 

ff. 174-186v, various prayers and suffrages: Ave Regina Caelorum 174v, Gloria tibi Trinitas 181, Saint Michael (f. 181v), Inter natos mulierum (f. 182), Saint John the Evangelist (f. 182v), Saint Christopher (f. 182v), Saint Nicholas (f. 183), Saint Martin (f. 183v), Saint Maurice (f. 184v), Saint Anthony (f. 184v), Saint Catherine (f. 185), Saint Barbara (f. 186), Mary Magdalen (f. 186v). 


Thirteen large miniatures by two artists working in the circle of Jacquemart Pilavaine, all miniatures surrounded with full borders of acanthus leaves, flowers, and birds; one full-page heraldic display in frontmatter; subjects as follows: 

Front matter, heraldic device of a lion rampant holding two shields: a bar azure in chief a leopard sable (left); argent three torteaux gules with a label of three points azure (right);   

f. 13, Agony in the Garden; 

f. 16, Betrayal and Arrest of Christ; 

f. 17v, Christ Before Pilate; 

f. 19, Flagellation of Christ;

f. 20v, Christ Carrying the Cross;

f. 22, Crucifixion;

f. 23v, Deposition;

f. 26, Pentecost; 

f. 34, Annunciation;

f. 46, Visitation; 

f. 72, Annunciation to the Shepherds; 

f. 85v, Flight into Egypt;

f. 106 King David in armor kneeling at an altar.

This Book of Hours was completed in Hainaut by two artists working in the circle of Jacquemart Pilavaine, a scribe and illuminator who established an influential workshop in Mons around 1450. The first completed two scenes of the Agony in the Garden (f. 13) and the Annunciation (f. 34) using a palette of pastel pinks and lilacs alongside deeper hues of red and blue. The figures are gracefully modeled with soft shading and wear delicate, translucent halos. Landscapes are rendered with detail and precision. This artist is also known from a second Hainaut Hours now in the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR, MS 15080) created by Pilavaine’s atelier (fig 1). The remaining eleven miniatures were completed by a second artist who used generally richer, brighter colors including a distinctive yellow with orange-toned shadows, a deep violet, and a metallic blue. A similar hand can be recognized in another Hours produced in Hainaut, now held by Washington University Library in Saint Louis (WUL, MS 5). Comparison between the scenes of Pentecost and the Flights into Egypt are especially close in style (fig. 2).

Following the observations of Gregory Clark, the enclosed blue rule surrounding the Annunciation on folio 34 suggests a date from the early part of Pilavaine’s career between 1450-1460 (Clark 2016, p. 168.). The style of the miniatures also dates to this period of the workshop’s oeuvre. Figures carry large, weighty, gold nimbi with finely tooled detail. Interior scenes are often depicted upon checkered flooring, where the artist demonstrates a simple knowledge of perspective. Windows and lozenge latticework are often marked by rudimentary black lines. The large scale of the manuscript (240 × 165 mm) stands out from other Hours by Pilavaine as well as Flemish Hours in general. Originally with a total of twenty miniatures, the manuscript’s program was also sizable, and the book was clearly commissioned as a deluxe copy by an affluent noblewoman.

Pilavaine and his workshop executed numerous works for Burgundian nobility between 1450 and 1470, most notably a copy of the Livre du gouvernement des princes for Philip the Good (Brussles, KBR MS 9043) as well as multiple commissions for Count-Duke Philippe de Croÿ. Pilavaine is sometimes referred to as the Master of Philippe de Croy because of the noble’s sustained patronaged. Pilavaine was well connected to other Flemish miniaturists and may have worked with Simon Marmion as much of his oeuvre shows Marmion’s influence. It remains unclear if Pilavaine was himself an illuminator or if he simply operated a workshop of painters. He is described as “enlumineur” in a document from 1452, but this term often referred to artists who carried out marginal decorations in the fifteenth century. Pilavaine’s works are best known for their borders of rich, floral acanthus with strong dentition and a predilection for bird varieties, also heavily drawn in shimmering colors. Research by Anke Esch and Dominique Vanwijnsberghe continue to identify the miniaturists who worked for Pilavaine and assemble the oeuvre of this workshop.

We are grateful to Gregory Clark for expertise.


Unpublished. For comparisons see:

Bousmanne, B. and T. Delcourt, Thierry, eds. Miniatures Flamandes 1404-1482, Paris; Brussels, 2011.

Dogaer, G. Flemish Miniature Painting in the 15th and 16th centuries, Amsterdam, 1987, pp. 61-62.

Esch, A. “La Production de Livres de Jacquemart Pilavaine à Mons Nouvelles Perspectives,“ in Als ich can: Liber Amicorum in Memory of Professor Dr. Maurits Smeyers, Peeters, 2002.

Kren, T. and S. McKendrick, eds. Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe, Los Angeles, 2003.

Vanwijnsberghe, D. “Ung bon ouvrier nommé Marquet Caussin Brussels”:Peinture et enluminure en Hainaut avant Simon Marmion, Brussels, 2013.

Winkler, F. Die flamische Buchmalerie des XV. und XVI. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1925 

BOH 188

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