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Presentation in the Temple: folio 85v
Title : Presentation in the Temple: folio 85v Presentation in the Temple: folio 85v
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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 :

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] 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.

Folio 85v Letter D Presentation in the Temple: tierce. Both the altar and the sacrificial doves are prominent here, and the internal frame of gold is almost totally hidden by the figures of Simeon, Mary and Joseph: only a small portion is visible at the top of the image. Christ is clothed in red cloth again and depicted disproportionately large, drawing the reader's gaze to him. Mary's hand is also oversized, emphasizing her protective hold of the Child. Her gaze however is fixed on Simeon as he makes his prophesy of Christ's Passion. 

The Presentation in the Temple is described in the Gospel of Luke 2:22-40. According to the gospel, Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth to complete Mary's ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn, in obedience to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12). There they met Simeon who had been promised by God that he would not die before he had met the Messiah; on holding Jesus Simeon prophesised his Passion.

The borders on this page are lavish with acanthus leaves and other foliage. A naked human figure with a drawn bow and arrow is just visible in the tight margin on the right hand side. 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. In addition the page contains two large illuminated letters rich in detail.

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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