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Da Costa Hours

All Martyrs
Da Costa Hours, in Latin
Belgium, Bruges, ca. 1515
Illuminated by Simon Bening, (1483/84-1561)
6 3/4 x 5 inches (172 x 125 mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; MS M.399, fol. 295v
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Known as the Da Costa Hours after its second owner, Don Alvaro da Costa, chamberlain to King Manuel I of Portugal, this masterpiece is by Flanders's last great illuminator, Simon Bening. Among other elements, Bening is known for religious scenes infused with quiet dignity, solid figure types, lush landscapes, trompe-l'oeil borders, and keen observation of detail. This striking miniature includes all these characteristics. The image, marking the start of a prayer to all martyrs, illustrates the numerous ways by which Christians have been put to death for their faith over the centuries.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.