August 25, 2011

World Chronicle with the Descent of the Kings of England from Adam and Eve to Richard III

This manuscript, produced in London around 1500, traces the genealogy of the kings of England from Adam and Eve to Richard III. The manuscript was made in the manner of William Caxton (circa 1422–92), the first English printer. Written in English, on vellum, the volume still has its original brown calf binding. Illustrations are mostly large compositions in pen and ink and include images of the Last Judgment and the fall of the rebel angels, the Creation, the fall of Adam and Eve, and Noah’s ark. Also included in the manuscripts is a series of genealogical chains, which are decorated with 68 medallion portraits. Among the kings and emperors portrayed are Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, King Arthur, and William the Conqueror. Secondary decorations include initials decorated with gold filigree, and others rubricated in red and blue ink.

Hours of Notre Dame

Books of hours are collections of prayers used for private devotion. They were the most common illuminated works of the Middle Ages. Heures de Notre-Dame (The book of hours of Notre Dame) was made in Bruges (present-day Belgium) around 1470. The manuscript, written in Latin and on vellum, is most likely the work of William Wyelant or his studio. Wyelant, also known by the Flemish spelling of his name, Willem Vrelant, was an influential illuminator who was active in Bruges from 1449 until his death in 1481. The leaves of the manuscript are decorated with numerous ornamental initials, historiated letters (with figures of people, flowers, animals, or birds), and decorated borders. The English binding dates from the early 18th century. The manuscript is unfortunately incomplete; about 26 leaves have been removed.