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detail

Book of Hours

Horæ Beatæ Mariæ Virginis

Vellum leaf from an illuminated Medieval Manuscript
Northern France; Middle 15th Century
Latin Text; Angular Gothic Script
15 by 10.5 cm

This Book of Hours shows definite characteristics of the manuscript art of France and the Netherlands of about 1450 A.D. It was probably one of many copies prepared for sale at a shrine to which devout pilgrims came to worship or to seek a cure. The spiked letters and the detatched ornamental bar are unmistakably Flemish in spirit, while the free ivy sprays are distinctively French. The burnished metal in the decorations shows the use of alloyed gold (oro di metà) as well as silver.
Various metals were added in different localities to the fine gold. English illuminations frequently had a decided orange hue, while the French had a lemon cast. The quality of the gold was best enhanced by the use of burnishing tools equipped with an emerald, a topaz, or a ruby. Less successful burnishers contained an agate or the tooth of a wolf, a horse, or a dog.
Keywords: 1400s, Book of Hours, decoration, France, formal, gothic, initials, script
Manuscripts | Cary Collection