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Book of Hours
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Masters of Dirc van Delf
Dutch, Utrecht, about 1405 - 1410
Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment bound between wood boards covered with purple velvet
Leaf: 6 1/2 x 4 5/8 in.
MS. 40

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In the early 1400s in the northern Netherlands, a new dynamic cultural circle developed under the patronage of Albrecht of Bavaria, Count of Holland. In a workshop closely associated with the count, the anonymous artists known as the Masters of Dirc van Delf illuminated this book of hours, perhaps for a member of Albrecht's family or one of his courtiers. These artists, who worked in the International style that so appealed to aristocratic taste across Europe, formed one of the first important illuminators' workshops of fifteenth-century Holland.

While the Hours of the Virgin were most often illustrated with miniatures showing the Life of the Virgin, this book illustrates these services with scenes from the Passion of Christ. With their powerful dramatic style, the eight full-page miniatures provide visual meditations on the meaning of the story of Jesus, fostering the viewer's empathy for his supreme sacrifice. Historiated initials and decorated borders complete the decorative scheme.

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