The original miniature cycle of this exquisite prayer book was executed by the Talbot Master, named after his most prestigious commissioner Sir John Talbot. The artist was presumably trained in Paris and settled in Rouen later in his career. He became one of the most sought after artists for English clients in Normandy.
The Talbot miniatures here are quite homogenous in style. The faces of the figures are delicately outlined and are smooth and serene for female saints and angels, while they are more expressive and chiselled for male and elderly figures, for instance the apostles, shepherds, or the chanting monks in the funeral service. Their postures are rather rigid, which is exemplary for the Talbot Master’s approach.
Interestingly, the illuminator avoided portraying interiors: even the Annunciation – a typical indoor event in medieval painting – here takes place partly inside a chapel, where Mary kneels before her lectern, and partly outside, where Gabriel advances from a garden.
The border decoration surrounding the miniatures helps date the manuscript: the advanced development of the acanthus ornament suggests an origin in the third decade of the 15th century, probably between 1420-1430, and thus before the artist’s move to Rouen.
The later miniatures were likely added to the manuscript to either replace lost miniatures or modernize the manuscript according to the style of the late 15th century. Recalling the style of the Master of the Cardinal of Bourbon, the illuminator was clearly a Parisian painter and apparently inspired by unusual topics from printed Books of Hours, such as the Corpse that drags the Pope by his robe.
The architectural frames he uses also directly derive from the printed illustration series, where integrated frames were frequently used. In addition to these, the images are surrounded by conventional border decoration with acanthus and floral decoration. These four miniatures may have been executed between 1480 and 1500.