This French devotional book from the Middle Ages invites you to leaf through its beautifully illustrated and handwritten pages. Created in Northern France during the fifteenth century, this book of hours would have been used by a wealthy individual to mark the times of day with prayers and psalms. It is richly illustrated with marginal images of dragons, musicians, apes, dogs, and hybrid creatures.
Book of Hours, Use of Reims was created for the use of an owner 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 item is available in UH Libraries Special Collections.
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Place du Théâtre Français, Paris: Rain, 1898 (oil on canvas) by Camille Pissarro / Minneapolis Institute of Arts
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