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Unknown illuminator; Sigenulfus, scribe
Italian, Montecassino, 1153
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with marbled calf
Leaf: 7 9/16 x 5 3/16 in.

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From the early Middle Ages on, clergy, monks, and nuns celebrated the Divine Office of prayers, hymns, psalms, and readings at eight different times throughout the day, using the texts in a breviary. This breviary was made at the monastery of Montecassino in southern Italy, the cradle of Benedictine monasticism and an important center for book production in the Middle Ages. The book's small size suggests that it was designed for a monk's private use rather than for community use.

A prayer in the manuscript mentions the scribe Sigenulfus, who wrote the text of this book and may also have painted its many decorated initials. The manuscript's bright colors, especially the blue and yellow, and the familiar motif of biting dogs twisting amidst spiraling tendrils are characteristic of works produced at the scriptorium at Montecassino.

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