This absorbing book explores the crown jewel of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s collection of rare books and manuscripts: Jean Bourdichon’s Boston Hours. As court artist to King François I of France, Bourdichon produced paintings, books and even parade floats for the sovereign and his entourage. This publication accompanies the museum’s first ever exhibition dedicated to this spectacular illuminated manuscript.
Painter to two kings, Jean Bourdichon remains today one of the most celebrated artists of the French Renaissance. By age twenty-four, he was already serving as “peintre du roy,” a title which Bourdichon held for the rest of his life. His illustrious career at the French royal court led to a wide range of commissions—from portraits to wall maps to stained glass—but he is remembered principally for astonishing illuminated manuscripts. The peerless Grandes Heures for Queen Anne of Brittany remains the touchstone of this group which includes some of the most lavishly painted books of hours ever produced.
One of these masterpieces—Bourdichon’s Boston Hours—in the collection of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is the subject of this book. Bourdichon’s only intact book of hours in the United States was acquired by Isabella Stewart Gardner in 1890 and became the crown jewel of her collection of rare books and manuscripts. Leading scholars Nicholas Herman and Anne-Marie Eze explore its history in depth, shedding new light on the book’s patronage and provenance—from the shelves of a wealthy Catholic landowner in Lincolnshire to the shop of a Venetian art and antiques dealer.
This book is the latest in the Gardner’s Close Up series, each installment focusing on an individual, outstanding work of art in the collection. This publication is the first dedicated to this rare treasure, and precedes an exhibition opening in summer 2022.