Manuscripts

Early Psalter-Hours with Rare Secular Imagery

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Psalter-Hours with secular imagery. Single folio on vellum. Flanders, ca. 1300: 88 mm x 63 mm (justification, 57 mm x 43 mm). Single column, 12 lines. Foliated “36” in pencil in upper right. Decoration: six-line historiated initial depicting a secular figure in prayer painted in muted colors on gold grounds, with marginal extensions; two-line dentelle initials, and one line-filler of similar execution to the extensions. From an uncommonly early Book of Hours, which would have circulated with the Psalms. Secular figures illustrating the Hours are exceptionally rare, and ours resemble those in Walters Art Museum MS W.40, an early Book of Hours from Paris. It seems that depictions of individuals at prayer were among the first to appear in Books of Hours before the common illustrations of Christ’s Infancy and Passion gained prominence and displaced them. Text: Terce in the Hours of the Virgin.  Condition: fair; the gold leaf is rubbed, showing black from ink offsets, with scratches and one tear.

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