Size: The collection consists of some 450 manuscripts.
Accessibility: All illuminated manuscripts can be found in the KB Catalogue. Those acquired before 1985 have been recorded in a special catalogue. In this catalogue the themes of all scenes are listed for each manuscript and have been catalogued in an iconographical index. In addition, all images from the illuminated manuscripts can be found in the Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts website. The illuminated manuscripts can be consulted only in the Special Collections Reading Room and are available for scholarly research only; a number of them can only be studied by means of microfilms and (colour) photographs.
Collection history: The Koninklijke Bibliotheek acquired an important group of illuminated manuscripts at its establishment in 1798, out of what was formerly the stadtholder's library.
More information: Ed van der Vlist - 070-3140406
The Koninklijke Bibliotheek owns the richest collection of illuminated manuscripts in the Netherlands. Of the approximately 450 illuminated manuscripts, around 300 contain figurative images, whereas the remaining manuscripts are illuminated with painted decorations and/or pen work only. The total number of images amounts to approximately 8,000. They have the form of painted miniatures, drawings, historicized initials or marginal scenes, and comprise all possible topics.
The largest group is constituted by the approximately 250 books of hours and prayer books, which are generally illustrated with scenes from the lives of Mary and Christ. Christian themes can further be found in various historical bibles, one of which illustrates the Old and the New Testament with over 500 scenes, and in liturgical manuscripts, which were intended for worship. Among the remaining illuminated manuscripts world history, encyclopedias and works of literature figure largely.
The Koninklijke Bibliotheek acquired an important group of illuminated manuscripts at its establishment in 1798, out of what was formerly the stadtholder's library. Valuable acquisitions were obtained in the first decades of the nineteenth century with the collections of J.D. Lupus and G.-J. Gérard. During the librarianship of W.G.C. Byvanck particularly the collection of breviaries from the Northern Netherlands was expanded. Within the medieval collection the illuminated manuscripts still make up the most important field of interest.
De verluchte handschriften en incunabelen van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Een overzicht voorzien van een iconografische index. Compiled byJ.P.J. Brandhorst and K.H. Broekhuijsen-Kruijer. 's-Gravenhage 1985.
Schatten van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Acht eeuwen verluchte handschriften. Exhibition catalogue. 's-Gravenhage 1980.
Kriezels, aubergines en takkenbossen. Randversiering in Noordnederlandse handschriften uit de vijftiende eeuw. Red. A.S. Korteweg. 's-Gravenhage, Zutphen 1992.