The twelve full-page, painted miniatures and pen-and-wash drawings of our Book of Hours are arranged, quite unusually, in pairs on recto and verso. Although the Annunciation is at the beginning of the Hours of the Virgin, it precedes the text, while the Nativity is on the verso facing the beginning.
The iconography in this Book of Hours is interesting and unusual.
The prayers to the instruments of the Passion of Christ are introduced by two coloured pen-drawings: a miniature of St. Florian and one of Christ as Man of Sorrows with Arma Christi. Florian, an elegant, young knight in contemporary armor and with a banner, empties a small wooden tub filled with water on a burning city, drawn next to his feet. He is one of the most important Austrian saints and was called upon to protect against water and fire. According to legend, Florian saved a house on fire with a cask of water. His image is drawn with long curly hair and his youthful facial features are marked with fine, short pen strokes and some red blushes.
Four images head the Office of the Dead: St. Alexis below the stairs in the house of his parents, the Three Living Kings next to the Three Dead Kings and the Raising of Lazarus. The Three Living and Three Dead Kings tell the story of three men who encounter three skeletons bearing a text scroll saying: Quod fuimus, estis; quod sumus, vos eritis (What we were, you are, what we are, you will be), reminding all of the transience of earthly things. Each king represents a different age: the left is the youngest, beardless, in the middle is middle-aged king, while the right-most figure is the oldest king with grey hair and beard. On the juxtaposed page the miniature shows three crowned corpses in sarcophagi. Body and fame faded, what remains of the kings are skeletons with black and dull crowns.
A Confession scene shows that this richly illustrated manuscript likely was made for a male patron who is depicted as confessor kneeling before a Franciscan friar.
Read more about this manuscript in our Spotlight.