“The Master of Mary of Burgundy” is “A Book of Hours for Engelbert of Nassau”, and it dates from the Netherlands of the fifteenth century. It is an illuminated manuscript of Biblical scenes and stories framed by illustrations of garden flowers and peacock feathers. No one knows who painted it , and it is now , not the property of a nobleman, used for his private devotions, but of the Bodleian Library in Oxford.
Here are the beloved flowers of country and monastery gardens- iris,pinks, poppies, Bouncing Bet, violas, columbines, and Bachelor’s Buttons . And here and there, resting on the gold leaf we see a butterfly-
The iris pictured above is very like the flower of the Blue Flags found in old gardens, at least in its shape. It also resembles the blooms of the Dalmatian iris.
I took these photos of my copy of this book, which was published by Georges Braziller in 1970. I bought the book in 1976, when I was twenty six. And though the plant breeders have altered pinks and daffodils, the blue cornflower is the same today as it was in 1976 and in the fifteenth century-