State Library of South Australia logo Adelaide Hours
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

O Intemerata: folio 203r
Title : O Intemerata: folio 203r O Intemerata: folio 203r
Add To My SA Memory
Creator : Catholic Church
Source : Italian Book of hours, c1375 [manuscript]
Date of creation : c1375
Format : Manuscript
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Donated by : Friends of the State Library of South Australia
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
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 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.

In addition there is one three-line decorated initial. There is no gold, nor any pen flourishes. This commences the prayer O Intemerata. This prayer did not usually feature in the earlier Italian Books of Hours, but was more common north of the Alps. It is a supplication asking for the intercession of Mary and St John the Evangelist, and recalls the words spoken by Christ on the cross to Mary and John. Because of the special love and intimacy of between Mother and Son, and between Christ and his beloved disciple it was considered they had special powers of intercession. An English translation of the prayer is available in Wieck page 164.

This page which is free of all ornamentation beside the one initial letter allows the script to be clearly seen. This is a rounded gothic hand in brown ink. Where elsewhere in the book there are numerous one line initials in blue or gold with red or blue flourishes, on this page there are none. Nor are there any of the lavish gothic borders which surround the pages of the historiated initials. The prayer must speak for itself.

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

Internet links :



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on