On January 29th, the Rothschild Prayerbook was offered for auction by Christie’s and was sold for $13.6 million to a private collector bidding by telephone. The ornately illustrated Book of Hours sold in 1999 at Christie’s London for $13.4 million to a European collector.
The Rothschild Prayerbook is a Book of Hours commissioned by a member of Holland’s imperial court circa 1505. The gorgeously detailed manuscript features 150 decorated pages with miniatures and borders painted by renowned artists including Gerard Horenbout, Simon Bening, Alexander Bening and Gerard David.
Among the highlights is a miniature of the virgin and child on a crescent moon by the painter Gerard David.
The work is described by the auction house as “one of the highest achievements of Flemish Renaissance painting. The record for any book sold at auction is held by Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester, which was bought by Bill Gates at Christie’s in 1994 for $30.8m.
The manuscript was part of a collection of Nazi-confiscated treasures returned to the Rothschild banking dynasty by the Austrian government in 1999.
Everything “from the quality of the parchment to the wealth of refinement of the decoration marks the Rothschild Prayerbook as one of the most prestigious and exquisite examples of Flemish manuscript illumination,” said Nicholas Hall, co-chairman of Christie’s Old Masters and 19th-century art.