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 life of Saint Catharine, came before or after this sequence is unknown. The book’s main artist also illuminated a Bible now held in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (Ms. Auct. D.3.2) and a psalter preserved at Trinity College, Cambridge (Ms. O.4.16). The manuscript contains a number of unusual texts, including the Hours of Jesus Crucified and the Office of Saint Catherine. The text of the former has been scrambled. The patron of the manuscript is not clear; a woman is depicted as praying in many of the initials, but rubrics in the Office of the Dead mention frères (brothers). The imagery is inventive, and the Hours of Christ Crucified are graced with images depicting the funeral of Reynard the Fox in its margins. In the absence of a calendar, it is not possible to locate the origin of the manuscript precisely.

Last updated: April 12, 2016