Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books Presents Long-lost Royal Wedding Gift at Frieze Masters
Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books returns to Frieze Masters (4-7 October 2018, stand E3) with an exquisite selection of museum quality, medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts, miniatures, and early printed books. In the year of Prince Harry’s royal wedding to Meghan Markle, Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books’ showstopper highlight is a spectacularly important Book of Hours, which is a precious reminder of another very special royal wedding that took place more than 500 years ago. The exhibition highlights also include an illuminated manuscript of Giovanni Boccaccio’s collection of stories about the fortunes and calamities of European nobility, translated into French as Des cas des nobles hommes et femmes.
The Wedding Hours is a highly important work of cultural heritage and is of exceptional historical and art-historical value. This manuscript is the long-lost wedding gift created for Bianca Maria Sforza (1472-1510) upon her marriage to the Holy Roman Emperor elect, Maximilian I of Austria-Habsburg. The book was commissioned by the noblewoman’s uncle, Ludovico ‘Il Moro’ Sforza and not only testifies to the high level of Renaissance art made for the Sforza family in Milan, but also shows how art was used to link social, religious, and political life. The famed marriage by proxy between the niece of the Duke of Milan and the Emperor’s son was celebrated with great pomp in Milan on the 30th of November 1493. The jewel-like illumination was designed to honour and perpetuate the Sforza family bond once the bride was living north of the Alps. The entire manuscript is lavishly illuminated with opulent Renaissance motifs in gold and saturated colours. From her finely painted book, Bianca Maria could pray for saintly support or for salvation of the souls of her closest relatives. At the same time, she was reminded of the warmth of the southern colours and the splendour of Renaissance art from her native Milan. Since Bianca Maria’s marriage to Maximilian I, reportedly, was an unhappy one, it is intriguing to imagine how this small format prayer book offered spiritual guidance and consolation to the beautiful, young Empress. This stunning Book of Hours has only recently come on the market and will be presented at Frieze Masters for the first time with an asking price of 3.8 million euro.
This year, Dr. Jörn Günther Rare Books’ exhibition at Frieze Masters has an unusual theme. Inspired by Alain de Botton’s and John Armstrong’s book Art as Therapy, the exhibition will include a thematic display that focuses on the emotions that the artworks convey, or on life lessons to be learned from the works. Loosely based on the ideas from the book and the teachings of The School of Life, some of the thematic cases will show artistic depictions of life skills such as resilience, curiosity, and virtue.