£8m jewel-encrusted Book of Hours risks export

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on the Book of Hours to keep it in the country.

A rare jewel-studded book that once belonged to former King of France François Ier is at risk of being exported from the UK unless a buyer can be found to match the asking price of £8,000,000. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has placed a temporary export bar on the Book of Hours to keep it in the country.

This jewelled Book of Hours was made in 1532 and belonged to François Ier of France (1494-1547). Its metal cover is made of enamelled gold studded with jewels and precious stones including rubies, turquoises and a tourmaline. Inside the elaborate binding is a parchment Book of Hours, which was a Christian devotional book popular in the Middle Ages. It is painted with twenty religious images and prayers to be said throughout the day.

Most of the paintings were completed by the ‘1520s Hours Workshop’ which were book artists who produced high quality manuscripts for royal and aristocratic patrons. The book was then bought by François Ier, whose Renaissance court was known as a centre of art and learning. The book has then passed through numerous hands, including François Ier’s sister Marguerite d’Angoulême, Henri IV, and Cardinal Mazarin. Jewelled books are considered extremely rare and the high-quality painting inside the book makes it a unique survival.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:

This exceptional book provides us with a rare glimpse into the royal courts of 16th century Renaissance France and is of outstanding scholarly value. I hope that this unique book remains in the UK for the public to enjoy.

Read more: £8m jewel-encrusted Book of Hours risks export

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