Time Sanctified: The Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life
The illuminated manuscript was the primary vehicle of learning, religion, and art during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Within the pages of these hand-painted treasures, medieval civilisation flourished. Of all the illuminated manuscripts from this period, the Book of Hours was, by far, the most popular and among the most exquisitely made. In the words of scholar L. M. J. Delaisse, it was the best seller of its time - the most frequently commissioned book by both the aristocracy and the middle classes. A selection of these splendid pages is presented in Time Sanctified, along with a detailed discussion of their importance and their contents. A prayer book for the laity, the Book of Hours contains, at its heart, a series of prayers devoted to the Virgin Mary, which were meant to be recited at seven canonical times (or hours) during the day. The most highly skilled calligraphers and painters were commissioned to execute the finest decoration with the most luxurious materials, such as gold, silver, and lapis lazuli.An understanding of the contents in the Book of Hours, both textually and pictorially, is essential to our understanding of not only late medieval piety, but of late medieval social life as well. The contributions of four authorities on Books of Hours guide the reader: Roger Wieck provides a detailed description of the contents of the Book of Hours, Lawrence Poos discusses its social context, Virginia Reinburg sheds light on the role of the Book of Hours in late medieval, piety, and John Plummer provides essential textual analysis. The images are assembled from the Walters Collection, which contains one of the finest and largest collections of Books of Hours in the world.
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