Royal books of hours with local and international appeal : an examination of Jan Moretus's 1600/1601 and 1609 editions of the Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis
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The library / Bibliographical Society [London] - London, 1899, currens
, p. 158-184
In 1600, Jan Moretus I, then manager of the famous Plantin Press of Antwerp, was asked to print a special book of hours for Archduke Albert of the Netherlands. The result was an unusually hefty book of hours that is noteworthy for its uncommonly large letter type (to facilitate the near-sighted Albert's reading of the text) and its unusually extensive decoration with engravings, the majority of which were made specially for the project. Once Moretus had supplied Albert with the agreed thirty-five copies, he was then free to try to sell the 465 that remained. He must have been encouraged by the interest in this royal commission, for several years later he prepared his own version of this richly illustrated book of hours. The article compares the costs of illustrating both the subsidized 16001601 Officium and Jan Moretus's subsequent adaptation of it. It also considers who bought these exceptional books of hours and what that might say about the international market for such an expensively produced book for personal devotion at a time when the Catholic Counter Reformation was being actively implemented? Finally, the article asks what Moretus's subsequent adaptation of this prayer book reveals about which aspects of the original commission were deemed inappropriate for a broader market and which aspects were emphasized to enhance its appeal.