Book of Hours

Book of Hours. Horae beatae Mariae virginis (use of Paris). Manuscript, [ca. 1435]. MS Richardson 6. Houghton Library.

  

As the prayer book for both commoners and royalty alike, the Book of Hours enjoyed unprecedented popularity, and is often characterized as the “bestseller” of the Middle Ages. An indispensable resource for the study of late medieval piety and prayer, Books of Hours are today best known for their decoration, which can range from the routine to the spectacular. With so many surviving examples, Books of Hours provide a virtually continuous, dense record of well-preserved medieval painting. The manuscripts have also been extensively studied for their iconographic inventiveness, as most display at least some idiosyncratic features which open them to interpretation and analysis. The Book of Hours digital collection allows users to examine ten examples of Books of Hours taken from Houghton Library’s rich collection and pore through each page of the manuscripts without travelling to the reading room.

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