Rothschild Prayerbook breaks record for illuminated manuscript

The Rothschild Prayerbook, an illuminated manuscript produced in the Netherlands in the 15th or 16th century, has auctioned for $13.6m at Christie's New York.

In doing so it has broken its own auction record for an illuminated manuscript.

The lot headlined Old Masters Week in New York, appearing in the Renaissance auction on January 29.

Rothschild Prayerbook Auction
The Rothschild Prayerbook was once stolen by the Nazis

The vellum-bound book is thought to date to circa 1490-1520 and consists of 252 pages, which feature 67 full-page miniatures depicting scenes from the Bible.

The book has a long and mysterious history, with the Bavarian Wittelsbach family its earliest known owners.

In 1868, it entered the possession of the Viennese Rothschilds where it remained until it was stolen by the Nazis in 1938 during the occupation of Austria.

It was returned to the family in 1999 after a protracted legal battle with the Austrian government, and sold at Christie's London for $13.3m the same year.

Nicholas Hall, Christie's international co-chairman of old masters and 19th century art, commented prior to the sale: "Every aspect of this Book of Hours - from the quality of the parchment to the wealth and refinement of the decoration - marks the Rothschild Prayerbook as one of the most prestigious and exquisite examples of Flemish manuscript illumination."

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