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Christ blessing: folio 161r
Title : Christ blessing: folio 161r Christ blessing: folio 161r
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Creator : Catholic Church
Source : Italian Book of hours, c1375 [manuscript]
Date of creation : c1375
Format : Manuscript
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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Description :

Folio 161r Letter D Christ blessing- Maiestas: penitential psalms. In French Hours the penitential psalms are usually preceded by a scene from the life of King David. Here however an image of Christ in Majesty (or Christ the Judge) is shown. He holds a Bible in his left hand with his right hand raised in a blessing. Byzantine influences may have guided the composition of this historiated initial with Christ shown only half length as was more usual with the eastern Church. With his hand raised in blessing the image also reflects the more usual depiction of Christ Pantocrator of the eastern Church.

In the Adelaide Hours there are 19 thumb-nail sized historiated initials [initial capitals that contain an illustration that is relevant to the particular passage] and which are six lines high and introduce the main sections of the book. These are very elaborate with foliate and knotted motifs, highlighted in white. The predominant colours are blue, yellow, orange, green and pink with a lavish use of burnished gold. These initials contain a story, usually a moment in the life of Christ or of his mother the Virgin Mary. The letters are painted blue and pink, forming the frame for the image; there is often a further line in gold inside the main frame. It is this internal line of gold that is often used to bring the 'action' of the image closer to the reader, by positioning the picture over or beyond the internal frame.

The border is typical of others throughout the volume with lavish acanthus foliage. The Gothic border was a development of the late 12th and early 13th centuries, and occupying the margins of the pages, allowed a greater interaction between the text and the illustration. In the Adelaide Hours the use of burnished gold is not restricted to the historiated initial but is used throughout the border decoration. The page, particularly the border, signs shows of wear, as if the reader/owner had referred to this section of the book more frequently.

Subjects
Further reading :

Stocks, Bronwyn 'The Illustrated Office of the Passion in Italian Books of Hours' in The art of the book: its place in medieval worship edited by Margaret M. Manion and Bernard J. Muir Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998 pp. 111-152

The medieval imagination: illuminated manuscripts from Cambridge, Australia and New Zealand edited by Bronwyn Stocks and Nigel Morgan South Yarra, Vic.: Macmillan Art Pub., 2008 pp. 184-85

Manion, Margaret Medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts in Australian collections by Margaret M. Manion and Vera F. Vines; with a foreword by K.V. Sinclair Melbourne: Thames and Hudson, 1984 pp. 70-71

The Cambridge illuminations: ten centuries of book production in the medieval West edited by Paul Binski & Stella Panayotova London: Harvey Miller, 2005

De Hamel, Christopher A history of illuminated manuscripts Oxford: Phaidon, 1986

Wieck, Roger S Time sanctified: the Book of hours in medieval art and life New York: G. Braziller in association with the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1988

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