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Katherine Hours

Jean Bourdichonabout 1480 - 1485

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Lay spirituality spurred the popularity of personal books of hours in the late Middle Ages. A book of hours is a private prayer book with a core group of prayers and readings structured around the eight daily devotional services practiced by the clergy. Books of hours also contain a calendar of Church feasts, prayers to saints, and a service for the dead. They were designed for the laity and were frequently tailored to a patron's individual interests.

Jean Bourdichon, court painter to four successive French kings, illuminated this book of hours, which represents some of his earliest work. He produced glorious miniatures with sophisticated landscapes, dramatic lighting, and monumental figures. Illuminations in books of hours, usually placed at the beginnings of the individual prayers, provided a visual focus, aiding the reader in his or her meditations.

The intertwined initials I and K appear frequently in the borders of the manuscript, with the I embraced by a loop that forms the arms of the K. The letters are probably the initials of a husband and wife who commissioned the book. The K probably stands for Katherine since the book contains several prayers to Saint Catherine of Alexandria, after whom women in medieval France were often named.

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  • Title: Katherine Hours
  • Creator: Jean Bourdichon
  • Date: about 1480 - 1485
  • Location Created: Tours, France
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 16.4 x 11.6 cm (6 7/16 x 4 9/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment bound between wood boards covered in red velvet over previous covering of tanned leather
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 6
  • Object Type: Manuscript
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: Ms. 6
  • Markings: Markings: Marked Folio 1, at bottom center, oval stamp with faded "B(?) LICHTENSTEIN BIBLIOTHEK"; underneath the name "Pierre Vischer à Basel" erased, but legible. Label: Inside back cover, lower left corner, sticker inscribed in black ink, "409".
  • Inscription: Secondary Inscription: Inscribed inside front cover, top left corner, in black ink, "no. 98" Inscribed front cover, top left center, in pencil, "Fe. mmm fr./ Vmm mm [crossed out]/ Fem mmm" [crossed out] (price codes) Inscribed inside front cover, top left center, in blue ink, "144 feuillet/ 13 miniatures" Inscribed inside front cover, upper right, in pencil, "Femm m fr./ £ 6 mmm - / Hoe $ Eemm -" (price codes) Fourteen leaves are inscribed with the initials "I" and "K" intertwined with the love knot. Inscribed recto of first flyleaf, top left, in pencil, "47.2.31", "(25)"; at top right, in pencil, "Th.II.4". Inscribed inside back cover, top, in pencil, faded and illegible price codes.
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Manuscripts
  • Culture: French
  • Classification: Manuscripts

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