Books of Hours - Illuminated Manuscripts


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A look at illuminated manuscripts, particularly the notorious Books of Hours circa the Middle Ages.

Published in: Spiritual, Education
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Books of Hours - Illuminated Manuscripts

  1. 1. Illuminated Medieval Manuscripts 13 th -17 th CenturySource: The Book of Hours with a historical survey and commentary by John Harthan
  2. 2.  Prayer books whose contents were derived from official service books of the Church and personalized for each owner according to preference, status, and budget. They form the largest single collection of Book of Hours of Jeanne dEvreux 1324-28, France illuminated manuscripts.
  3. 3.  In 1999, Christies Auction House sold a complete manuscript The Rothschild Prayerbook circa 1505, a Book of Hours, for around £8,580,000! (Randolph Women’s College) But they’re also worth knowing about since they tell us a lot about Medieval religious life – especially because they were so customized to each individual.
  4. 4.  In the Middle Ages, timekeeping was not mechanized – so “Hours” indicated inexact portions of the day, which marked the start of business or religious duties. As such, Hours queued people to follow the Church’s program of daily devotion – which often very time- consuming.
  5. 5.  The Hours tell the story of Christ but the images point to the Virgin Mary. A cult of Mary formed in the Middle Ages – she was everyone’s mother.  “less awful than god” but “more powerful than the saints” (Harthan)
  6. 6. Calendar The Office (Text) Usually 2 pages per month.  The various daily prayers to Outlines which devotions be recited (many focus on are to be said for every day Mary). of the year. Marks saints’days & other The Psalter (Text) feasts.  The hymns and psalms for Have a regional emphasis every day of the week. or “Use” Suffrages of the Saints
  7. 7. Catherine Lipscomb Flemish Bookof Cleves, 15th C. Book of Hours of Hours, 16th C.
  8. 8. May miniature by SimonThemes- examples: Bening, early 16th C.  Jan: feasting  Feb: sitting by the fire  Apr: garden scene  May: boating  June: the hay harvest  Dec: killing the pig or baking bread. Zodiac signs often depicted for each.
  9. 9.  Pretty much anyone who could read and afford to have one.  Catholics: both devout and secular  Rich personages of their time who belonged to affluent, well-known families:  Often women who owned them Middle class laity Even illiterate people aspired to have one.
  10. 10. Tools:  wooden blocksIllumination:  vellum or parchment The art of decorating books  iron gall ink, made from the with colours and metals nuts on oak trees (usually gold, occasionally  minerals, silver). plants & chemicals Chiefly practiced in the used for tint. Medieval times pre-printing press.  quill pen A collaborative effort  Colours  Script
  11. 11. Colour/marks Calendar marking festivals  red and for important festivals  lesser ones are in black  regional often in red or blue Abbreviated rubrics  blue or red subdivisions between the prayers and verses.  (Ex. Ps for psalm)
  12. 12. Script1. Blackletter/Gothic script  15th C: 3. Aldine script adopted  italics (Aldus Manutius)  late 16thC  in printed editions.2. A more humanistic style miniscule  throwback to Carolingian script.  antiqua/roman  16th C:
  13. 13. the initial_____________ decorative  historiative  16th C  14th C Herod with 3 wise men  15th C  15th C Mary with baby Jesus
  14. 14. miniatures Not necessarily small in size but stemming from the Latin minium(red pigment of lead oxide).  Apart from text  Inside text  Full page (in frame)
  15. 15. borders/frames Ragged edges  Thick & fill margin.  Incorporated with an initial.  Frames (vines & flowers  Symbolic emblems &ornaments  Associated with saints, or the patron’s family
  16. 16.  Not bound in leather originally. Instead, a covering of fine leather, velvet or silk.  Used as a carrying or a napkin to keep book clean. The bindings we have now are the result of a later cover attached by an inheritor of the book  Or a facsimile of original for display in collections, (above).
  17. 17. A more humble example
  18. 18. Other than for prayer… Were albums for religious knickknacks Medicinal and spiritual purposes A place to record genealogies and create family identity.  “livres de raison”
  19. 19. Antoine Vérard, colour Astrological Man by Pigouchet(France, 1506; print.) (France, 1547; print.)
  20. 20. Secularization  Inclusion of superstitious invocations.  Laws of perspective experimented with.  Increasing use of vernacular.  Depictions of Caesar, and classical intrusions (like the 12 Sibyls).The Hours of Reynalt von Homoet (Germany, 1475)