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Betrayal of Christ: folio 15r
Title : Betrayal of Christ: folio 15r Betrayal of Christ: folio 15r
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Creator : Catholic Church.
Source : Italian Book of hours, c1375 [manuscript]
Place Of Creation : Central Italy
Date of creation : c. 1375
Format : Manuscript
Catalogue record
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Description :

Thumb nail sized historiated initials [initial capitals that contain an illustration that is relevant to the particular passage] and which are six lines high introduce the main sections of the book. These are very elaborate with foliate and knotted motifs, highlighted in white. 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.  

Folio 15r : Within the letter D the Betrayal of Christ is depicted. This is in Matins for the Office of the Passion. Christ and Judas embrace; two soldiers, one with drawn sword are in the background. The crowded initial creates a sense of the entrapment of Christ in the garden. Although small the image in the initial still conveys the drama of the moment when Christ is betrayed and trapped by Judas. His raised hand appears to question his friend and disciple; the close eye contact between the two men focuses the viewer's attention on the 'emotional confrontation' (Art of the book p. 117) The illuminator brings the moment more strongly into the viewer's or reader's space by slightly overlapping parts of the initial letter.

This introductory historiated initial for Matins contains within it a cue to the entire story of the Passion of Christ, leading the reader to contemplate the sufferings of Christ.

The border is typical of others throughout the volume with lavish acanthus foliage. A large blue knot dominates the lower border. 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 :

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 Chapter 4 The illustrated Office of the Passion in Italian Books of Hours

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

Fine books and book collecting: books and manuscripts acquired from Alan G. Thomas and described by his customers on the occasion of his seventieth birthday edited by Christopher de Hamel and Richard A. Linenthal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire: J. Hall, 1981 pp. 13-14 An Italian Book of Hours circ 1375 by Margaret Manion

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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