The Rothschild Prayerbook, a magnificent masterpiece of Renaissance art with an illustrious provenance will be the highlight at Christie’s Renaissance Auction in January 2014. Described as “perhaps the finest illuminated manuscript in private hands”, this specimen is estimated to fetch between $12 million and $18 million. Last appeared on the market in 1999, as part of the renowned collection of the Barons Nathaniel and Albert von Rothschild, the manuscript was sold by Christie’s for $13,378,558, a world record for an illuminated manuscript.
Known as a Book of Hours, The Rothschild Prayerbook is one of a group of manuscripts produced for the Habsburg court in the Netherlands around 1490-1520. It features 150 decorated pages with miniatures and borders painted by artists including Gerard Horenbout, Simon Bening, his father Alexander Bening and Gerard David. It is similar to another example in the British Library, as well as the Spinola Hours in the J Paul Getty Museum in California, and the Grimani Breviary in Venice.
“Every aspect of this Book of Hours – from the quality of the parchment to the wealth and refinement of the decoration – marks the Rothschild Prayerbook as one of the most prestigious and exquisite examples of Flemish manuscript illumination,” commented co-chairman of old masters and 19th century art at Christie’s, Nicholas Hall.
The world’s most expensive illuminated manuscript ever sold at auction will be exhibited Moscow, Hong Kong and London before heading to New York, for the auction at Christie’s Rockefeller Center saleroom on January 29.