Finding Scholarly Images
The manuscript has a calendar and other features that suggest it may have been made at the Franciscan convent of St. Ursula in Delft. It is reasonable to assume that regardless of the exact identity of the owner, he read the book with the intent of achieving comfort about the state of his soul.
This manuscript is a prayer book that was probably made for the figure depicted at her prie-dieu a piece of furniture designed to support someone in a kneeling position , in the garb of an urban woman from the Southern Netherlands around fig. She reappears on fol. She may have been a woman in holy orders. Clues in the calendar and litany help to localize the manuscript and give it an institutional context.
The manuscript opens with a calendar for Malines Mechelen , with feasts in red, which include that of Saint Rombout July 1 , the patron of the largest church in Mechelen. Saint Augustine is listed first among the confessors in the litany, meaning that he has been singled out for special veneration.
There is a large section of suffrages to individual saints, and Saint Augustine is among those represented by a small miniature; furthermore, Saint Anna and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary receive a full border, whereas the other saints do not fig. Given the garb of the woman in the border and the emphasis on saints Augustine and Elizabeth, it is possible that this manuscript was made for one of the sisters who worked at the hospital in Mechelen gasthuiszusters Augustinessen , where the sisters took the vows of Saint Augustine.
Like most late medieval hospitals in the Low Countries, this one was dedicated to Saint Elizabeth, who was said to have ministered to the sick. This same group of sisters created besloten hofjes, that is, reliquaries filled with silk flowers and small devotional objects, complete with wings commissioned from professional painters fig.
The two areas of darkness are especially apparent on some of the text-only folios with no border decoration, such as fol. Consequently, I took densitometry readings from both areas of darkness in each opening measuring only the recto sides and logged them into the spreadsheet fig.
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They revealed, however, exactly the same patterns of use, with the one graph reiterating the other but at a higher amplitude, and I concluded that the reader usually held the book at the center of the lower recto, and sometimes held it at the corners. In contradistinction to the previous example, here the graph drops off at the end of the text, the part that represents the litany of the saints.
Book of Hours (Use of Angers) with pilgrims’ badges
The owner was consistent in her negligence of the saints, as she similarly ignored the other main text dedicated to saints, the suffrages at the end of the book. Despite the fact that every saint was depicted in a miniature, probably at considerable cost to her, she read these texts infrequently, and they remained quite clean. The edges of this text are strongly discolored. Reciting this prayer would have earned thousands of indulgences for the reader.
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The other heavily used text in this manuscript was a prayer to the Trinity fig. The graph begins to tell a story about this book owner: she was interested in earning indulgences, although her manuscript afforded her few opportunities to do so. She found comfort in addressing the God of King David but was not too terribly interested in saints or else found other outlets—such as the besloten hofjes —for venerating them. This manuscript was made in the eastern Netherlands, possibly for a couple whose coats of arms appear on the borders of two of the full-page miniatures fig.
The coats of arms have not yet been identified. The densitometry data yielded a surprising graph, indicating that a prayer called the Fifteen Pater Nosters—which carried a large indulgence—was heavily handled fig.
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The densitometer also revealed a peak at the prayer to the Trinity. One of the highest spikes comes at a text that the user added at the end of the calendar fig. As we saw above, owners showed a special interest in the texts they added, which makes sense, since they must have personally selected them and gone to some extra effort to include them. This manuscript is a Latin book of hours, written in Delft based on stylistic grounds and dated , according to a text accompanying the calendrical tables for calculating Easter fig. It contains red and blue penwork of a style associated exclusively with Delft fig.
The manuscript was written on exceedingly thin and fine parchment of a variety I have been able to connect to the two main Augustinian convents of Delft: one dedicated to Saint Anne, the other to Saint Agnes.
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The convent of St. Agnes is known to have produced manuscripts; it produced Brussels, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Ms. Anne is a less likely candidate for the production of this manuscript, as Saint Anne is not even mentioned in the litany. Only the Augustinian convents produced and used manuscripts in Latin; the Franciscan sisters in Delft appear to have made manuscripts only in Dutch. Each folio in this book of hours reveals a slight darkening from repeated handling, demonstrating that the book was indeed used as an instrument of prayer over a period of time fig.
The densitometry graph for BMH 64 reveals that the first or early owner used many of the texts in the manuscript. He or she read the Hours of the Cross approximately as frequently as the Hours of the Virgin, consulted the Hours of the Sorrows of the Virgin less frequently, and spent the most time with the Vigil for the Dead.
The Vigil, in other words, is the text corresponding to the greatest area under the curve, and the edges of the manuscript folios in this section are visibly worn fig. Augustinian canonesses were remunerated for reading the Vigil on behalf of the dead in Purgatory, and it is possible that a canoness wrote and decorated this manuscript then subsequently used it to perform her duties. Jacob was the son of Tielman Oem, the mayor of Dordrecht, and Jacob himself became a city official in that city.
He was married to Lutgera de Jonge, and together they had twenty children. In the fifteenth century the Oem family had important functions in the church, and some went on pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem. Perhaps the person who made the manuscript was a member of the Oem family who lived as a canoness regular in the nearby city of Delft. When Jacob died in , he left the manuscript to his son Daniel, and the manuscript continued in the Oem family for several generations, possibly valued more as an heirloom than as a prayer book.
Perhaps one of the post-Reformation members of this family was responsible for scratching out the rubrics in the manuscript that detailed the indulgences readers could earn, such as one now scraped to oblivion on fol. In sum, the densitometrical evidence and other internal evidence within the manuscript suggest one of two likely scenarios: either an Augustinian canoness at the convent of St.
Agnes in Delft read the Vigil for the Dead intensively, because doing so was part of her duties; or a member of the Oem family of Dordrecht incorporated the manuscript into their tradition of honoring their ancestors. The manuscript is a book of hours with a calendar for the county of Utrecht. It was consecrated in by Michael Hildebrand, the archbishop of Riga, and was probably produced a few years earlier in the s. The manuscript is heavily illustrated with painted and penwork border decoration, historiated initials, and full-page miniatures.
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The painted decoration is difficult to localize but may have been executed in the Southern Netherlands. Correlating the graph with the respective openings reveals that the wear and activity in this manuscript are concentrated on the illuminated pages fig.
In fact, every spike corresponds to an opening with a full-page miniature, which suggests that not only did the patron exercise an image-centered devotion, but that he preferred his images large. He mostly handled pages with full-page miniatures and was less interested in the historiated initials. Perhaps he had poor eyesight. He was not, however, illiterate, as the densitometry graph also reveals significant areas under the curve at the gospel readings, which begin, unusually, with an image of the Annunciation fig. Text pages in all of these sections have been darkened with use, indicating that the owner had a sustained involvement with these texts.
Within these sections, he also revealed some of his favorites, for example the suffrage to Saint Erasmus, which was considered to be apotropaic fig. This text was also a favorite of the owner of Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Ms. The graph would suggest that he frequently turned to the Hours and Mass of the Virgin, reading just the beginning of the text then concentrating on the images.
Not all of the images held his sustained attention, however. One of the low points on the graph corresponds to the image representing the Visitation, that is, the meeting between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth when the two women were pregnant with Jesus and John the Baptist, respectively fig. Whereas convent sisters performed prayers and plays and commissioned sculptures based on this event and might have been expected to hold this image in esteem, the male owner of this manuscript took no more than a passing glance at it.
Like some of the other book owners considered in this article, this one also added a section to his book, which is marked on the graph in yellow. The owner added nine folios to the beginning of the manuscript before the calendar, including a prayer to Christ fol. This section contains some of the darkest margins in the manuscript and suggests that the patron was interested in the concerns of these prayers, namely penance and patience.
The folio with the highest spike on the densitometry graph also falls in this added section. This miniature presents an image of the patron himself fig. This was apparently the folio to which he turned most often. From the portrait in this miniature, it appears that the owner was a nobleman he kneels with his coat of arms before him and not a cleric he has no tonsure.
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