The Bowet Hours: a Bruges Masterpiece

Anonymous, The Bowet Book of Hours, ca. 1410-1420, King Baudouin Foundation.

Through March 22 the Groeninge Museum (Musea Brugge) exhibits the precious The Bowet Book of Hours alongside other manuscripts. The Bowet Book of Hours was made circa 1410-1420 in a Bruges studio. It is a rare example of Bruges Pre-Eyckian manuscript illumination. The manuscript, which was destined for the English art market, has been extensively studied. The result of this research is now presented as part of the exhibition The Bowet Book of Hours. A Bruges Masterpiece. After spending several centuries abroad, this pearl in the art of illumination has been returned to Bruges.

Manuscripts of the period are rare in Belgian collections. It was for this reason that the King Baudouin Foundation acquired this work, which had been destined to leave Belgium. Its realist style and innovative iconography provide an important link between painting in the pre-Eyckian period and the great revival of Flemish painting initiated by the Van Eyck brothers, as well as announcing the break with the international mannerist style in vogue at the time in Europe. The Bowet Book of Hours owes its name to the various members of the Bowet family mentioned in the calendar at the beginning of the manuscript. These were no doubt the first owners and were probably of English origin.

On January 15 professor Lieve Watteeuw (KULeuven) will give a lecture on the Bowet Book of Hours in the Vriendenzaal of Musea Brugge (18h30).

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(News item January 8 2015)