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A Masterpiece Reconstructed: The Hours of Louis XII

Thomas Kren, Mark Evans, Janet Backhouse, and Nancy Turner
Edited by Thomas Kren with Mark Evans

The Hours of Louis XII is the stunning prayer book that Jean Bourdichon (1457/58–1521) painted for the king of France, most likely on the occasion of his coronation in 1498. Bourdichon was the court painter to four successive French kings, including Louis and his predecessor, Charles VIII. The manuscript was originally illuminated with twelve large calendar miniatures and two dozen full-page miniatures, but by the seventeenth century the Hours of Louis XII had been dismembered. In recent years sixteen of these images have been located, including the portrait of the king that served as the book's frontispiece.

This catalogue, which accompanied an exhibition at the Getty Museum held from October 18, 2005, to January 8, 2006, publishes the rediscovered leaves together for the first time, along with four enlightening essays. Janet Backhouse discusses the book and its cycle of miniatures. Thomas Kren examines the book's miniature of Bathsheba bathing within its historical context. Nancy Turner surveys the evidence of Bourdichon's technique as painter/illuminator in the Hours of Louis XII. Mark Evans looks at the individual histories of each of the surviving portions of the manuscript. Lastly, an appendix presents a reconstruction of the book's devotional contents and program of illumination.

Thomas Kren is former associate director for collections and former senior curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Mark Evans is senior curator of painting at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The late Janet Backhouse was curator of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library. Nancy Turner is associate conservator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum.


112 pages
7 1/2 x 10 7/8 inches
77 color and 10 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-0-89236-829-7

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum