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Book of Hours, Use of Reims

Highlights
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    Folio 17 recto with The Virgin, seated, holding Baby Jesus on her lap.

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    Folio 115 verso with green scaled dragon and primary initial decoration.

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    Front cover made of dark brown leather over pasteboards with full gilt.

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    Folio 44 verso with initial letter decoration.

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    Book of Hours, Use of Reims

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    OFFICE OF THE VIRGIN. DECORATION: Compline. Primary initial C, blue, 7-line, on gold ground. On the upper left corner: a seated monkey with a fez-shaped hat, looks at a small glass bottle, a vial, which it holds in its hand. Ivy borders.

This French devotional book from the Middle Ages invites you to leaf through its beautifully decorated and handwritten pages. View the complete book of 197 leaves, the binding only, or just the illuminated pages.  This book of hours would have been used by a wealthy individual to mark the times of day with prayers and psalms. It is illustrated with marginal images of dragons, musicians, apes, dogs, and hybrid creatures.

This Book of Hours, Use of Reims was created for the use of an individual in northern France. Its text, written on parchment, is in both Latin and Old French. The scribe has identified himself in a note as Paulinus de Sorcy.

While many medieval manuscripts feature images that are closely related to their text, this one is primarily illustrated with marginalia. These whimsical images enliven the borders of various pages. A man plays a harp. A monkey or ape inspects a vial of urine in a satire of medieval medicine. A hybrid creature wearing a habit preaches with an upraised finger from a green book. Monkeys do somersaults while a dog watches.

This manuscript was rebound in dark brown leather in the early twentieth century.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in Book of Hours, Use of Reims.

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