ALTERNATIVE TITLES – La Flora Book of Hours – Livre d’Heures La Flora – Libro de Horas La Flora – La Flora-Stundenbuch.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION – Codex on parchment, size 215 x 135 mm, 368 folios (736 pages).
ORIGIN – The manuscript was produced in Flanders (Belgium), between Valenciennes, Bruges and Ghent.
DATING – 15th century (1483-1498).
PATRONAGE AND OWNERS – The provenance is uncertain. On f. 2v, inside a gilded medallion below the crowned letter K, the coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of France appears. This circumstance would lead one to identify the patron with Charles VIII of France, called the Affable (b. Amboise 1470, d. Amboise 1498), King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498, and King of Naples in 1495 under the name Charles IV. However, some scholars – on the basis of textual analysis – assume a bourgeois commission and that the coat of arms was added at a later date.
PRESENT LOCATION – The manuscript is currently kept in the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III of Naples. It is part of the Farnese Collection, which was transported from Parma to Naples after the conquest of Naples by King Charles III of Spain (b. 1716, d. 1788) in 1734.
GENRE – Christianity, Private devotional books.
CONTENT – Compendium of prayers and devotional texts for the use of the laity. The Horae Beatae Mariae Virginis (Office of the Virgin) constitute the heart of these books of private devotion, hence the name ‘book of hours’ that often identifies them. The Ms. I.B.51 of the Biblioteca Nazionale of Naples opens – according to a frequent pattern in books of hours – with the Calendar.
LANGUAGE – Latin.
SCRIPT – Rotunda. This is a gothic script, characterised by more rounded forms than those of other gothic styles, e.g. textura. This makes it much easier to read.
DECORATION – The manuscript counts no less than 102 miniatures, 36 of which are full-page. The name ‘Flora’ derives from the fact that the decorative apparatus is characterised by the copious presence of finely drawn plants and flowers.
ILLUMINATORS – Simon Marmion, Gerard Horenbout, Master of the Dresden Prayer Book, Master of the First Prayer Book of Maximilian I (Alexander Bening), Master of the Prayer Books of around 1500.
STYLE – Gothic, Renaissance.
EXTERNAL LINKS – Library of Congress (digitised manuscript).
Data sheet: Illuminated Facsimiles
Blessed Virgin Mary
Full-size color reproduction of the entire original document – The facsimile reproduces as close as possible the physical characteristics of the original document, with the aim to substitute it in the scientific research and in the libraries of the bibliophile collectors. Trimming and composition of the leaves reproduce the profile and structure of the original document. The binding corresponds to that of the original document as it appears at the present moment.
Publisher – De Agostini/UTET (Rome/Turin, 2008).
Limited edition – 664 copies.
Authenticity certificate – The certificate of authenticity with the copy number can be found in the colophon of the facsimile.
Commentary – Commentary volume in Italian language. Essays by: Giancaspro, Mauro; Lucianelli, Alma Serena.
Copyright photos: Illuminated Facsimiles