Tempera and gold on vellum
Sheet: 14 x 9.3 cm (5 1/2 x 3 11/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1951.394
All books of hours contain the same basic sections, the order of which can shift, and individual prayers can vary, sometimes significantly, from region to region.
One section of a book of hours is known as the Prayers to the Virgin. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, this group of prayers is written in the first person singular, which allowed readers to insert themselves into the prayer. A reader would begin by calling upon the Virgin Mary and Saint John, with whom they would plead, as saints were considered intercessors who could emphasize a supplicant’s faithfulness. Plaintive or urgent in tone, these prayers are considered some of the most moving texts in books of hours. To accompany them, illuminations often show the Virgin and Child or the Pietà, the Virgin cradling the dead body of Jesus after its removal from the cross.
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