Black Hours

Black Hours
Shelf Mark:
MS M.493
Alternate Names:
Schwarzes Stundenbuch
17 × 12 cm − 242 pp
Date Description:
ca. 1475
the circle of Willem Vrelant
Book of Hours
Type of Decoration:
All the folios are stained black, with white and opaque paints used for miniatures and gold and silver ink for the script. More than half of the folios have borders with a gleaming blue background, with acanthus leaves with drolleries, all in gold. Chapter incipits are highlighted with rubrics written in gold ink, with more than thirty in gold leaf on an emerald ground. There are 14 full page miniatures painted with differentiated shades of grey and embellished with glittering gold. Each prayer is introduced with a picture, with the Office of the Virgin having 8 miniatures.
Musical Notation:
Call Number:
Rare Books Small ND 3363 .S48 C37 2001
Commentary Volume:
Nature of Facsimile:
Full-size color reproduction of entire manuscript
Publication Date:
Place of Publication:
Lucerne or Munich
Faksimile Verlag
To produce a black manuscript, the parchment is first immersed in a copper iron solution, and then painted. This process is costly and delicate and makes the parchment very fragile. The production of black manuscripts was especially associated with the dukes of Burgundy, with 5 of the 6 surviving black manuscripts made in the Low Countries and 1 made in Spain. Philip the Good began wearing black after his father John the Fearless was stabbed to death on September 10, 1419 and continued to wear black long after the normal mourning period. This caught on in Flanders and influenced the production of the Black Hours around 1475. Commentary in German by Bousmanne, Bernard; Voelke, William M