Book of Hours
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Spitz Master, illuminator; Master of Sir John Fastolf, illuminator
French, Paris, about 1420
Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment bound between pasteboard covered with red silk velvet
7 15/16 x 5 7/8 in.
MS. 57

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Most books of hours, private prayer books specifically designed for lay people, contain a calendar, the Hours of the Virgin, a standard series of readings from the Gospels, the Office for the Dead, the Penitential Psalms, prayers, and hymns. This particular book of hours contains all those texts. Remarkably, it also includes other texts, both biblical passages and special prayers, focused on the Passion of Christ. The book's illumination features a number of miniatures showing scenes from Jesus' Passion.

Not only were books of hours important in the spiritual lives of their owners, but the most beautifully and extensively illuminated ones were important luxury objects. This one was illuminated by two anonymous artists, the most accomplished of whom is known as the Spitz Master. The two artists all painted in the International style, characterized by the courtly elegance of the figures and richly patterned fabrics rendered in brilliant colors and gold. Some of this book's miniatures were adapted from illuminations made by the Limbourg Brothers for Jean, duc de Berry, the most famous art patron of the age.

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The Spitz Master: A Parisian Book of Hours

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