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Gulzar Calligraphic Panel
This calligraphic panel executed in black and red on a white ground decorated in gold contains a number of prayers (du'a's) directed to God, the Prophet Muhammad, and his son-in-law 'Ali. The letters of the larger words are executed in nasta'liq script and are filled with decorative motifs, animals, and human figures. This style of script, filled with various motifs, is called gulzar, which literally means 'rose garden' or 'full of flowers.' It usually is applied to the interior of inscriptions executed in nasta'liq, such as ...
Psalter of Frederick II
This remarkable illuminated psalter decorated in the Byzantine style was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Sicily (1194–1250) for his third wife, Isabella of England (1214–41). Frederick married Isabella in 1235. By design and execution, the manuscript illuminations combine the color palette of Byzantium with the stylistic rendering of the plasticity of the human body common to the Italian school of the period. Probably executed at the scriptorium in Acri, a hill town in Calabria, the manuscript is decorated with a full-page initial letter encompassing ...
Book of the Passion of Saint Margaret the Virgin, with the Life of Saint Agnes, and Prayers to Jesus Christ and to the Virgin Mary
This volume is a compilation of three manuscripts produced in Bologna at the end of the 13th century. It begins with the Passion of Saint Margaret of Antioch, in Latin. This is followed by two texts in Italian, one describing the life and devotion of Saint Agnes and one containing prayers to the Virgin Mary. Each manuscript is written in a different hand; evidence suggests that the three parts were brought together and bound at the beginning of the 14th century. The only part of the book that is illustrated ...
The Compendium of Graces and Fountain of Charms
This 17th-century manuscript contains the text of Majmoo’a al-Latā’if wa-Yanbu‘ al-Zarā’if (The compendium of graces and fountain of charms), a collection of esoteric and mystic prayers. The work is divided into many chapters, unnumbered and typically only a few pages long, with rubrications indicating the beginning of each chapter. The work discusses the spiritual expediency of praying in a certain manner; on a certain Islamic month, day of the week, or religious occasion, citing sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and other Islamic tradition as supporting arguments. The ...
This chasoslovets (book of hours or horologion) is the first book printed by the first Bulgarian printer, Iakov (Jacob) Kraikov. It is a collection of prayers, eulogies, saints’ lives, and apocrypha that both served as a daily handbook for priests and was valued by lay readers in search of knowledge and enlightenment. Kraikov printed the book in Venice, at the largest Slavic Cyrillic printing-house for Serbs and Bulgarians in the city, which he acquired in 1566. The selection of font, typesetting, pagination, and the rich artful decoration (more than 30 ...
Rosary and Service Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Other Devotions Combined in Honor of the Most Holy Trinity and in Worship of the Most Venerable Queen of the Heavens
Rosarium et Officium Beatae Mariae Virginis (Rosary and service dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary), a Latin devotional book published in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1678–79, is regarded as one of the rarest and most important Belarusian publications of the 17th century. The book was created by Oleksandr Tarasevych (circa 1640–1727), an outstanding master of book design, engraving, portraiture, and heraldic and panegyric printing, whose best works compare favorably with those of the great West European artists. Tarasevych created his most innovative works, including the prints for Rosarium, in ...
The Book of Fridays
The first book printed in Armenian was the Urbathagirq (The book of Fridays), which was published in Venice in 1512 by Hakob Meghapart (Jacob the Sinner). Little is known about Hakob Meghapart, or why he styled himself “the Sinner” (or “the Sinful”). Armenia was at that time under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, and the Diaspora community played a critically important role in keeping alive the Armenian language and literary tradition. Written in Grabar (Classical Armenian), the book consists mainly of prayers and remedies for the sick, together with ...
Missa in B Minor ("Kyrie" and "Gloria" of the B Minor Mass)
In 1733, following the death of August the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) applied to the ruler's son and successor, Frederick August II, for a court title. Bach’s petition eventually was successful, and in 1736 he was named Royal Polish and Electoral Saxon Court Composer. Bach had bolstered his application by submitting a missa brevis (brief mass, consisting of Kyrie and Gloria) dedicated to Frederick August. This work, the Missa in B Minor, which Bach with deliberate ...
Horologium Olomoucense is a collectarium (liturgical book of collects or prayers) that is recited during the Divine Office at horae (specific times) during the day. The manuscript was written for the cathedral chapter in Olomouc in the southern part of the present-day Czech Republic before the year 1150. A famous image depicting Pope Gregory I (circa 540–604) is found at the beginning of the liturgical texts. The pope is on a throne and dictating to his friend and pupil, Petrus Diaconus, who is sitting at his feet. He is ...
Book of Hours
This finely illuminated and iconographically rich book of hours was made in England at the end of the 13th century. The manuscript is incomplete and mis-bound. The original sequence of the parts of the manuscript cannot be reconstructed with certainty. The Abbreviated Hours were followed by the Hours of the Holy Spirit, the Seven Penitential Psalms, the litany and collects, the Fifteen Gradual Psalms, the Office of the Dead, and the Hours of Jesus Crucified. Whether the Prayers to the Crucified Christ, which were followed by the lections in the ...
This richly illuminated 14th-century German homilary is particularly interesting for its rare bifolium of drawings bound in at the front of the book. The headgear worn by the nuns in the drawings is characteristic of Cistercensian and Premostratensian nuns in northern Germany as early as circa 1320. Evidence for dating and localization is also found in the manuscript's relationship with a second homilary in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Douce 185). Despite minor codicological differences—page layout, text-block dimensions, and ruling—it seems likely that the two ...
This mid-15th-century illuminated book of hours is written entirely in Dutch on fine parchment and is remarkable for its 18 grisaille miniatures. This technique, wherein the figures are modeled primarily in a gray wash, became a favorite in the Netherlands. The hand behind the miniatures in this manuscript has been identified with one of a group of artists known as the Masters of the Delft Grisailles. The manuscript has been grouped with more than a dozen related works, including New York, Morgan Library Ms. M.349; London, Victoria and Albert ...
Missal of Eberhard von Greiffenklau
The Missal of Eberhard von Greiffenklau is a masterpiece of Dutch manuscript painting. It was originally produced in the second quarter of the 15th century and features work by the Masters of Zweder van Culemborg, as well as the celebrated Master of Catherine of Cleves, linking it to possibly the finest Dutch illuminated manuscript ever made: The Hours of Catherine of Cleves of circa 1440 (Morgan Library & Museum, M.917 and M.945). The extremely elaborate Missal is illuminated with one full-page miniature, fifty-two column miniatures and sixty-eight historiated initials ...
The Claricia Psalter was made for, and most likely by, a group of Benedictine nuns at the abbey of Saints Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg, Germany. Although the psalter itself, along with its calendar, dates to the late-12th or early 13th century, a number of texts and prayers were added in the mid-13th century. Most striking about the manuscript are its illuminations, which include a prefatory cycle, full-page miniatures, and historiated initials. While all are Romanesque in style, they vary greatly in quality and technique, and three or four different ...
This missal, which dates to the late-12th or early 13th century, was made for the Benedictine abbey of Melk (or, possibly, Seitenstetten) in Lower Austria, as indicated by the inclusion of the patron saints of Melk, Peter and Paul, and Cholomannus (folio 212 recto). The surviving volume of a multi-volume missal, the manuscript contains only the ordinary of the mass and the "summer part," with the temporale running from Holy Saturday through the Sunday after Trinity Sunday and the sanctorale beginning with the feast of Primus and Felicianus (June 9 ...
This book of hours was produced circa 1510−20 for a member of the Almugavar (or Almogàver) family of Catalonia, whose coat of arms appears throughout the manuscript in the borders of the lavish full-page miniatures. There are 26 full-page polychrome miniatures (three are missing), of which six were removed from the original quire structure after portions of the miniatures were excised, and then returned to the manuscript, having been pasted onto heavy card-stock folios. There are also 18 full-page incipits, of which three include historiated vignettes, and numerous folios ...
This illuminated prayer book, made in the Netherlands in the early 16th century, contains Latin prayers and passages from the Gospels. Although small in scale, it is notable for its abundance of illuminations, with nearly 60 extant small miniatures. Full-color portraits embellish the prayers to the Virgin and suffrages, while the images within the Gospel narrative are rendered primarily in grisaille, a nearly entirely gray monochrome technique. The last folios include a trompe-l'oeil foliate margin and a Crucifixion that seems to be a later addition. Throughout the book, gold ...
Book of Hours
In the Byzantine world, this book would have been known as a horologion, or book of hours. Illustrated books of hours in Greek are extremely rare, and this example is one of only two surviving horologia with image cycles. The manuscript includes many full-page miniatures, which show interaction between the late-Byzantine and Gothic artistic styles. The manuscript may have been copied on the island of Crete, which in the 15th century was under Venetian rule. Unlike the images found in Western books of hours, which typically are drawn from the ...
This manuscript, illustrated with 155 marginal paintings, is one the few surviving “marginal psalters,” in which images provide a pictorial commentary on the Biblical text. Other examples include the Khludov Psalter (circa 850, Moscow, State Historical Museum, Muz. 129), the Barberini Psalter (circa 1050, Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. Barb. Gr. 372), the Theodore Psalter (1066, London, British Library, Add. Ms. 19,352), and a Cyrillic psalter made in Kiev (1397, Saint Petersburg, National Library of Russia, cod. OLDP, F6). The marginal psalter of the Walters Museum was apparently ...
This Flemish Psalter from the library of the Irish College in Paris was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1500. The manuscript is written in Latin on vellum, and it has a 19th-century binding. Psalters are religious books, especially popular in the Middle Ages, containing the psalms (poems that are sung) from the Bible, often with other devotional texts. Richly decorated, the Psalter includes a fully illuminated page depicting the Tree of Jesse and a miniature of King David, the main author of the psalms. Twelve illuminations, each composed of ...
Prayers for Safety and Success
This calligraphic fragment includes verses in Persian praying for the patron's personal well-being and the prosperity of his kingdom. The verses read: "May the world be (your) fortune and the firmament (your) friend / May the World-Creator (God) protect (you) / May all your works be successful / May God of the World look after you / May your heart and your kingdom be collected and well-frequented / May division stay far away from your realm." The verses are executed in black nasta'liq script on beige paper. They are framed by cloud bands ...