University of Kentucky Special Collections
Kentuckiensis IV

Book of Hours

ca. 1470

Because of their destination for private devotion, Books of Hours in the later Middle Ages were frequently of small, indeed sometimes diminuitive, size, in order to be held conveniently by the worshipper and carried about on trips or pilgrimages. KY. IV can be attributed to the atelier of a particular artist of fifteenth-century Bruges, that of Willem Vrelant (d. ca. 1480).

The periode of Vrelant's activity coincides with the "golden age" of Franco-Flemish illumination and is associated with the patronage of Philip the Good of Burgundy (1396-1467). Analysis of the borders in KY. IV makes it possible to attribute this manuscript to the Vrelant atelier. When Willem Vrelant arrived in Bruges from Utrecht shortly after 1450 in order to take advantage of its thriving book trade, he quickly developed his own distinctive style of border ornament: blue and gold acanthus with white dots along the spines, combined with varieties of flowers and fruits with alternating gold and green leaves, all set against a white ground dotted with black, blue, and gold. This describes the borders of KY. IV precisely.

Unusual among the manuscripts associated with Bruges, KY. IV lacks figural ornament. However, we know that it was a common practice in the workshops of this Flemish center to tip-in miniatures after the text and been written and the initials and borders illuminated. The manuscript is also fragmentary, lacking both the calendar and the Office of the Dead.
Notes derived from "The Illumined Word." University of Kentucky Art Museum. Catalog, 1983.

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