Eberhard König, NIAS Fellow and Professor of Art History at the Freie Universität Berlin, has held the annual public KB Lecture on 19 January 2012. He received the first copy of the accompanying publication, Devotion from Dawn to Dusk.
At the Koninklijke Bibiotheek in The Hague, König presented the results of his research on medieval manuscripts in the KB’s collection, in particular on the Office of the Virgin in Dutch Books of Hours.
Books of Hours
A Book of Hours is a collection of Christian prayers for recitation at different times, ‘hours’, of the day. They were intended for laymen, for individual use at home. The expensive, handwritten books became increasingly popular in the fifteenth century.
Eberhard König is well known for his research on Books of Hours produced in Paris. König’s five months stay at NIAS and the KB allowed him to study Dutch Books of Hours (Getijdenboeken), placing them in an international context.
One of König’s most remarkable findings is related to the exceptional development of Books of Hours in the Northern Netherlands. Whereas most Books of Hours in medieval Europe were written in Latin, a language most laymen did not grasp, Books of Hours from the Northern Netherlands were translated into Dutch. Being written in a language that layman could understand, the need for elaborate images and miniatures decreased, resulting in Books of Hours quite different from those produced in the rest of Europe.
With his visual analysis of the Dutch Books of Hours, König does not only reveal the international context in which these works were made, but also traces important changes within the realm of Biblical interpretation and religious worshipping.
The text of the lecture, richly decorated with images from the KB’s collection, is published by Primavera Pers. “Devotion from Dawn to Dusk. The Office of the Virgin in Books of Hours of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek in The Hague” can both be bought or freely downloaded. The website of the KB offers the possibility to listen to the entire lecture and to browse through the highlights of the KB’s medieval manuscripts collection in an online exhibition.
Photo: (c) Koninklijke Bibliotheek