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Hours of Simon de Varie
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Partial gift of Gerald F. Borrmann

Jean Fouquet, illuminator; Chief Associate of the Bedford Master, illuminator; Master of Jean Rolin II, illuminator
French, Tours and perhaps Paris, 1455
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and iron gall ink on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with red morocco with olive and citron morocco inlays, gilt
4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in.
MS. 7

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Simon de Varie, who served in the French royal treasury under Charles VII and whom the king had recently raised to noble rank, commissioned a book of hours, which was completed in 1455. This richly illuminated private prayer book includes a calendar of church holidays and texts for devotional services inspired by the eight daily services of the divine office. The rise in literacy among the merchant and noble classes and their desire to express a newly emotional personal piety, particularly in veneration of the Virgin Mary, spurred the popularity of books of hours in the 1400s. In their desire for tangible luxury products, many wealthy patrons commissioned sumptuously illuminated books of hours.

The complete Varie Hours, of which the Getty Museum's volume is only a part, includes forty-nine large miniatures and several dozen other vignettes and historiated initials by four different artists. While three of these painters are anonymous, Varie commissioned the internationally sought-after painter Jean Fouquet to make six of the manuscript's illuminations; these were appended to the book as an unusual frontispiece. A later owner divided the book into three volumes. The Getty Museum owns one, and the two others belong to the Royal Library in The Hague, The Netherlands.


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The Hours of Simon de Varie

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