This is undoubtedly the most beautiful manuscript I have been in contact with in my 17 years at Christie’s. The Rothschild Prayerbook (click link for exclusive video) is a masterpiece of Renaissance illumination, with exquisite miniatures executed by the most sought-after artists of the period.
The prayerbook combines a ravishing aesthetic appeal with a stellar provenance. Produced in Ghent or Bruges in circa 1505–10, it was acquired by Anselm von Rothschild (1803–1874), founder of the Austrian Rothschilds’ collections. It was appropriated by the Nazis in 1938, and restituted to the Rothschild family in 1999. Then, that same year, it sold at Christie’s in The Collection of the Barons Nathaniel and Albert von Rothschild, setting a world record price for an illuminated manuscript.
This year, Christie’s had the unique opportunity to offer the Rothschild Prayerbook for a second time. It enthralled audiences when the Renaissance Sale toured in Moscow and Hong Kong, with press and art lovers queuing round the block to see it up close. It went on to set a new world record of $13,605,000 in the New York sale that took place in January, being purchased by Australian businessman and bibliophile Kerry Stokes.