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Prayer Book of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg

Simon Beningabout 1525 - 1530

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The esteemed Flemish artist Simon Bening lavishly illuminated this prayer book for the powerful Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, Elector and Archbishop of Mainz and an ambitious patron of the arts. Personal prayer books played an important role in the daily spiritual life of clergy and laity alike. In the later Middle Ages, as the devout sought a more personal and intimate approach to spirituality, their books became increasingly individualized in their content and decoration. The text of this book is a collection of sixty-two devotional prayers, the majority of which focuses on Jesus' life and Passion. It was copied from a book printed in Augsburg in 1521, a German translation of the original Latin text. The Cardinal, however, chose to commission a hand-written and illuminated copy, probably preferring the luxuriousness of parchment and color-saturated images to the paper and monochromatic woodcuts of printed books. He selected an artist who could bring out the rich narrative and subtle psychological elements in the story of Christ's Passion. The sequence of forty-one brilliantly colored, full-page miniatures that Bening produced for the manuscript was designed to evoke an intense empathic response as the viewer contemplated Jesus' suffering.

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  • Title: Prayer Book of Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg
  • Creator: Simon Bening
  • Date: about 1525 - 1530
  • Location Created: Bruges, Belgium
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 16.8 x 11.4 cm (6 5/8 x 4 1/2 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold paint, and gold leaf on parchment bound between wood boards covered with red velvet
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig IX 19
  • Object Type: Manuscript
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: Ms. Ludwig IX 19
  • Inscription: Inscription: Painted fol. 336, in border: "SB" (initials of Simon Bening).
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Manuscripts
  • Culture: Flemish
  • Classification: Manuscripts

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