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RANDOLPH-MACON WOMAN'S COLLEGE

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Les Très Riches Heures

Books of Hours come in all shapes and sizes. Some are tiny--less than two inches square. Some are so huge that they can only be read when propped up on a table because they are too heavy to carry. One of the most beautiful Books of Hours is the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (the picture on the far left). Three German brothers painted this book for the French Duke of Berry. The pictures from the calendar of this book are some of the most well known paintings of the Middle Ages.

Other Books of Hours were not so well decorated. The picture next to the one from the Très Riches Heures comes from the calendar of a more modest book. The one after that is even simpler. The one owned by the Lipscomb Library is simpler still. No figures remain. The ornamentation comes only in decorated, enlarged letters and scrolling vines with flowers. Such a book would have been cheaper to produce than the lavish books shown in the earlier pictures. As a result, it would have been accessible to a much wider audience than the other books. This is important since Books of Hours were meant to serve as the common man’s prayer book. It is a testament to the honor and importance given to such books that even this simple Book of Hours contains lots of expensive gold leaf and blue paint.

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These pages are the work of the students enrolled in Art 238, "Art and Medieval Mentalities," taught by Professor Christine Hamza during the Spring Semester, 2003.

The format of this site was last updated:  June 7, 2007.