Bedford Hours

Various medieval manuscripts are focus of interest for today's scholar, because of their intricate textual and pictorial context. Yet it is The Book of Hours that stands out the most for its diverse structural framework and the creative peculiarities. The irregularities within this brilliant manuscript make it unique in its own way. The unconventional order of the texts, iconographical peculiarities within a program, the abnormality of miniatures, the question of patronage, identity of the artist or the date of production are many reasons why we get captivated and choose to examine this type of manuscript more closely.
There are many different Books of Hours. The Bedford Hours is one of the most intriguing ones. The book measures 260 x 180 mm (10 1/2 x 7 1/8 inches). It contains nearly 300 leaves, every one of which is illuminated. In addition to its 38 large miniatures, most of which complement conventional texts of a Book of Hours, it includes more than 1200 tiny marginal pictures, illustrating scenes from Old and New Testaments.The text of the manuscript is written in blue, red and gold ink.
The body of work consists of six unequal sections, each of which includes a coherent sequence of devotions appropriate to inclusion in this type of book. The sections are as follows: Calendar; Gospel Lessons followed by'Obsecro te' and'O intemerata'; Hours of the Virgin; Penitential Psalms with special Hours assigned to the seven days of the week, and Office of the Dead; Hours of the Passion; Memorials of selected saints, and number of selected special devotions.
Each section is composed of multiple gatherings of eight leaves. A gathering of twelve leaves, carrying the calendar precedes these sections.Each month occupying the recto and verso of a single leaf, is illustrated with appropriate iconography. The suitable labors of the month accompanied by zodiac signs are shown in the lower margin of the rec…

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