Book Altar of Philip the Good

Book Altar of Philip the Good
Shelf Mark:
Codex 1800
Alternate Names:
Buchaltärchen Philipps des Guten
35 × 14.2 cm − 76 pp.
Date Description:
Mid 15th century
Private devotional book, includes prayers to Christ the Redeemer, psalm verses from the devotions of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the Passion of Christ according to St. John. There are also prayers and devotional texts dedicated to the Virgin who appears as Madonna of the ears of wheat, a symbol of the liberation of Jerusalem from the Muslims.
Gothic Textura
Type of Decoration:
A combination of a panel diptych and a book in the same codex. The diptych portion, which is about 20 years older than the book portion, has two wooden panels, each of which has a miniature, both in the international Gothic style. The front cover depicts the Trinity and the back cover depicts the Coronation of Mary. The miniatures of the codex were painted by a later, anonymous painter and all depict Philip at prayer, on his own or with his son Charles, at a Gregorian Mass or venerating various saints. The first double pages contain many references to the user of the book altar and shows the emblems of the house of Burgundy. Margins are decorated with golden flower and leaf designs and initials are painted with gold, maroon and blue. The first and last pages of the manuscript show traces of pilgrimage badges, which were commonly sewn unto the clothing of pilgrims or unto devotional books as souvenirs of their journeys.
Musical Notation:
Call Number:
Special Coll. Rare Books XLarge ND 3380.4 .B84 B8 1991
Commentary Volume:
Nature of Facsimile:
Full sized color reproduction of entire manuscript
Publication Date:
Place of Publication:
Lucerne or Munich
Faksimile Verlag
The dukes of Burgundy, since their realm was still very young, needed to travel to all parts of the country to impose their rule. Philip the Good used this book altar for his devotional practices during his travels. He likely had two existing devotional pictures, the miniatures of the diptych incorporated into this book altar. Contemporary paintings show Philip in prayer both before a book and before an open diptych. Commentary in French and German by Mazal, Otto; Thoss, Dagmar