Public Donations Help France’s National Library Buy a Medieval Book of Hours

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s first-ever public fundraising appeal, launched to acquire a medieval book of hours that once belonged to Jeanne de France, has just met its goal of €250,000 ($325,000). Combining this sum with the €750,000 ($974,000) already raised from government, foundation, and corporate sponsors, the library can now afford the €1 million ($1.3 million) asking price for the beautifully illuminated book.

According to Le Monde, the book was declared a national treasure in June 2011, which gave the library until December 31, 2012, to amass the asking price. Sixteen hundred donors, ranging in age from 21 to 95, contributed amounts ranging from a few euros to €3,000.

According to the Bibliothèque Nationale’s website, Jeanne de France received the book as a wedding gift from her father, King Charles VII, in 1452. The illuminations are by Maître de Guillaume Jouvenel des Ursins. The book is tiny — four and a half by three inches — but contains 336 pages with 65 miniatures. It entered a private collection in the 19th century and until now had only been known to art historians through black-and-white reproductions. The library will digitize the book and put it on display in 2013.

— Kate Deimling

(Image via BNF.)