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Flagellation of Christ: folio 26r
Title : Flagellation of Christ: folio 26r Flagellation of Christ: folio 26r
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Creator : Catholic Church.
Source : Italian Book of hours, c1375 [manuscript]
Date of creation : c. 1375
Format : Manuscript
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Description :

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 initials 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 each 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 frequently used to bring the 'action' of the image closer to the reader, by positioning the picture over or beyond the internal frame.

Folio 26r Letter D Scourging: prime. The Flagellation of Christ is one of the more compelling images within an initial. The half-naked body of Christ takes up most of the space with his halo and right leg overlapping the frame. The flagellator, his tormentor, also conspicuously overlaps the frame and this technique brings the action into the reader's space, involving him more intimately with the subject. It is a compelling, startling image.

In a number of other Italian Books of Hours the usual image for Prime is Christ before Pilate (Folio 21v). However in this particular Book of Hours the illuminator, perhaps at the request of the commisioner /owner of the work has used the Flagellation of Christ instead. It remains an emotional and confronting image directing the viewer to contemplate the physical suffering of Christ, their Redeemer.

There is evidence of this page being frequently used with some of the text worn from constant use, and the edge of the page has had some damage repaired; the fantastic bird within the border foliage is largely missing. 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.

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

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

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

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