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Walters Ms. W.289, Book of Hours

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Shelf mark



Book of Hours

Text title
Book of Hours


This richly illustrated Book of Hours was created in the second quarter of the fifteenth century, possibly in Poitiers, France, as shown by the strong representation of the local saints in the calendar and litany. The Hours of the Virgin and succeeding offices are for the Use of Rome, while the Office of the Dead is for the Use of Paris with minor variants. The initial female owner is portrayed on fol. 15r. Her identity remains unrevealed as her armorial shields in the initials from fols. 15r and 111v are effaced. While taking a Breviary as a source for its design, the book presents a few unusual features, such as its relatively large format and two-column layout. The most distinctive element is, however, the inclusion of several atypical Offices, which resulted in the introduction of exceptional pictorial themes as well: for example, the Office of the Assumption begins with the image of the Virgin handing over her girdle to the Doubting Thomas. At Matins in the Hours of the Virgin, the traditional image of the Annunciation was also replaced by the representation of the Resurrected Christ appearing to His mother under Franciscan influence-this event was counted as the sixth Joy of the Virgin in the text of the “Franciscan Crown of Rosary Prayers.” The artistic style of the Bedford Master’s influence permeates most of the pictorial program in this manuscript.


Ca. 1450-1475 CE


France (Poitiers ?)






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin.

Support material


Medium weight parchment, carefully selected and well prepared; flyleaves are post-medieval and modern parchment


Foliation: iii+201+iv

Modern pencil foliation, upper right corners rectos


Formula: Quire 1: 6 (fols. 1-6); Quires 2-3: 8 (fols. 7-22); Quire 4: 4, the third folio has been reattached (fols. 23-26); Quires 5-12: 8, inadvertent omission of one folio number after fol. 77, currently numbered as 77b (fols. 27-89); Quire 13: 8, only the first and last folios left, the rest removed (fols. 90-91); Quire 14: 8 (fols. 92-99); Quire 15: 6 (fols. 100-105); Quires 16-27: 8 (fols. 106-201)

Catchwords: Centered on versos of lower margins beginning from fol. 22v

Signatures: None



16.7 cm wide by 23.0 cm high

Written surface

9.9 cm wide by 14.2 cm high

  1. Columns: 2-5
  2. Ruled lines: 23-33
  3. Calendar has 5 columns and 33 lines

fols. 1r - 201v:
  1. Title: Book of Hours
  2. Contents: Hours of the Virgin for Use of Rome; Office of the Dead for Use of Paris with minor variants; selection of Offices influenced by Breviary
  3. Hand note: Textura formata
  4. Decoration note: Sixteen miniatures less than full-page (fol. 15: 12 lines; fols. 34, 52, and 60: 14 or 15 lines; rest: 17 lines); decorated initials at major text divisions (3 lines) and at secondary text divisions (2 lines); gold versals on cusped blue and mauve ground with white patterns; U-shaped baguette frames miniatures and texts on fols. 15, 34, and 52, and thereafter, baguette at spine-edge only at major text divisions; margins often filled with acanthus and floral motifs; rubrics in red throughout; text in dark brown ink
fols. 1r - 6v:
  1. Title: Calendar
  2. Contents: Calendar about two thirds filled, graded in red and brown; Egyptian days specified by abbreviations; combination of saints for Use of Rome and local saints venerated in Northeastern France and Poitiers; pronounced devotion for Franciscan saints; feasts of note include: Sabinianus (Jan. 24), Flavia (May 7), Francis (May 25, translation), Antony (June 13), Cirycus and Julitta (June 16), Silverius (June 17), Maxentius and Eligius (June 25), Cyprian (July 14), Margaret (July 20), Dominic (Aug. 4), Radegundis (Aug. 13), Philibert (Aug. 20), Antoninus (Sep. 2), Francis (Oct. 4), Dionysius and companions (Oct. 9), Florentius (Oct. 17), Benedict (Oct. 23, bishop of Poitiers), Martin (Oct. 24), Quintinus (Oct. 31), Leonard (Nov. 6), Triphon and Respicius (Nov. 10)
fols. 7r - 14v:
  1. Title: Devotional Sequence
  2. Contents: Fols. 7r-10r: John 1.1-14, Luke 1.26-38, Matthew 2.1-12, Mark 16.14-20; fols. 10v-11r: Prayer to Christ; fols. 11r-12v: Prayer on Seven Last Words of Christ; fols. 12v-13r: Prayer to the Virgin; fols. 13r-v: Prayer to All Saints; fols. 13v-14v: Six prayers to Christ
fols. 15r - 33v:
  1. Title: Psalms for canonical hours in Office of the Virgin
  2. Contents: Canticles at the end of Lauds and Compline; French headings for Vespers and Compline
fols. 34r - 51v:
  1. Title: Hours of the Virgin
  2. Contents: Use of Rome; fols. 34r-44v: Office from Matins through Compline for recitation on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday; fols. 44r-50v: Office for other days, texts for specific seasons in liturgical year, French headings including detailed instructions; fols. 50v-51v: Vigils for next feast
fols. 52r - 59v:
  1. Title: Hours of the Conception of the Virgin
  2. Contents: Use of Rome; fols. 58v-59v: Vigils for next Office
fols. 60r - 66r:
  1. Title: Office of the Nativity of the Virgin
  2. Contents: Use of Rome; fol. 66r: Antiphon for Vespers of next office
fols. 66v - 72r:
  1. Title: Office of the Annunciation
  2. Contents: Fols. 71v-72r: Antiphon for Vespers of next Office
fols. 72v - 78r:
  1. Title: Office of the Purification of the Virgin
  2. Contents: Fols. 77v-78r: Vespers of vigils for next Office
fols. 78v - 87r:
  1. Title: Office of the Assumption of the Virgin
  2. Contents: Use of Rome
fols. 87v - 94r:
  1. Title: Office of the Nativity of Christ
  2. Contents: Use of Rome; fol. 94: Antiphon and Psalm 116.1 for Vespers of Easter vigils
fols. 94v - 104v:
  1. Title: Seven Penitential Psalms, litany, and collects
  2. Contents: Fols. 94v-100r: Seven Penitential Psalms; fols. 100r-104v: Litany, mostly saints venerated in northern France, Paris, Brittany, Poitou, Loire region; twenty-one martyrs including Gatianus, Thomas apostle, Victor, Dionysius, Maurice, Eustace, Nicasius, Quintinus, Arnulph; thirty-nine confessors including Leonard, Martin, Brictius, Marcellus, Magloire, firminus, Leufred, Aegydius, Lupus, Sulpicius, augustinie, Benedict (of Nursia, or bishop of Poitiers), Marcellinus, Germanus, Robert, Pancratius, Evurtius, Samson, Eutropious, Louis, Antony, Fiacre, Maturin, Maudetus, Julianus, Citronius (Poitous), Mamertus ('memerci'), Junianus, Maxentius (Poitous), Photinus ('Fortune'), Guillelmus, Lambert, Philibert, Ivo; twenty virgins including Mary Magdalene, Mary of Egypt, Felicitas, Perpetua Agatha, Agnes, Cecilia, Radegundis 'ora pro nobis' (the only name written on two lines and accompanied by imprecation quoted), Catherine, Geneviève, Marina, Opportuna, Brigid, Batildis, Margaret, Anne, Petronilla, Anastasia, Spes, Karitas; fols. 101v-103r: Petitions; fols. 103r-104r: Six collects
fols. 106r - 111r:
  1. Title: Office of Easter
  2. Contents: Matins 3-lesson; Vespers of Vigils for next Office (fols. 110v-111r)
fols. 111v - 121v:
  1. Title: Office of Pentecost
  2. Contents: Matins 3-lesson; Vespers of Vigils for next Office
fols. 122r - 134v:
  1. Title: Office of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
  2. Contents: Matins 9-lesson; Vespers of Vigils of next Office (fol. 133v)
fols. 135r - 155r:
  1. Title: Office of All Saints
  2. Contents: Headed on fol. 134v: 'Ad matutinas omnium sanctorum'
fols. 156r - 180v:
  1. Title: Office of the Dead
  2. Contents: Use of Paris
fols. 181r - 186r:
  1. Title: Hours of the Cross
fols. 186v - 201v:
  1. Title: Devotional Sequence
  2. Contents: Fols. 186v-191r: Hours of the Holy Spirit; fols. 191r-195r: 'Obsecro te,' Prayers to Christ, Seven Verses of St. Bernard, thirteen Suffrages headed 'De...,' 'O intemerata,' Suffrage to St. Fiacre; fols. 195r-199v: Suffrages to SS. Anthony, Sebastian, Christopher, Trinity, Holy Spirit, Virgin, Cross, SS. John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, James, Peter, Paul, Julianus; fols. 199v-201v: Prayer to the Virgin; fol. 201v: Suffrage to St. Fiacre


fol. 15r:

  1. W.289, fol. 15r
  2. Title: Virgin and St. John the Evangelist on altar with female manuscript owner at right
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 34r:

  1. W.289, fol. 34r
  2. Title: Christ carrying the cross before the Virgin
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 52r:

  1. W.289, fol. 52r
  2. Title: Meeting at the Golden Gate
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 60r:

  1. W.289, fol. 60r
  2. Title: Nativity and bath of the Virgin
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 66v:

  1. W.289, fol. 66v
  2. Title: Annunciation
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 72v:

  1. W.289, fol. 72v
  2. Title: Presentation in the Temple
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 78rv:

  1. W.289, fol. 78rv
  2. Title: Assumption of the Virgin, Holy Girdle presented to St. Thomas
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 87v:

  1. W.289, fol. 87v
  2. Title: Nativity
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 94v:

  1. W.289, fol. 94v
  2. Title: King David penitent
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 106r:

  1. W.289, fol. 106r
  2. Title: Resurrection
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 111v:

  1. W.289, fol. 111v
  2. Title: Pentecost
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 122r:

  1. W.289, fol. 122r
  2. Title: Birth of St. John the Baptist
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 135r:

  1. W.289, fol. 135r
  2. Title: Virgin, Christ, and saints
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 156r:

  1. W.289, fol. 156r
  2. Title: Burial service, St. Michael and devil battling for man's soul
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 181r:

  1. W.289, fol. 181r
  2. Title: Crucifixion
  3. Form: Half-page miniature

fol. 186v:

  1. W.289, fol. 186v
  2. Title: Baptism of Christ
  3. Form: Half-page miniature


The binding is not original.

Rebound in Italy in late nineteenth- or early twentieth-century; faded olive green velvet; sewn on five straps; gilt edges


Created ca. 1480-90, perhaps in Poitiers; illuminated under strong influence of the Bedford Master; first female owner depicted on fol. 15r; traces of heraldic shields in initials on fols. 15r and 111v

Leo S. Olschki, Florence bookseller, in the first quarter of the twentieth century; his inventory number '33002' penciled on flyleaf i, v

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Olschki before 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, Seymour, and W. J. Wilson. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935, p. 792, cat. no. 223.

Dayton Art Institute. Flight, Fantasy, Faith, Fact. Exhibition Catalogue. Dayton, Ohio: 1953; cat. no. 92, Pl. XII/b (fol. 156).

Breckenridge, James D. "Et Prima Vidit: The Iconography of the Appearance of Christ to His Mother." The Art Bulletin 39, no. 1 (1957): 9–32, pp. 20 and 23, fig. 7 (fol. 34).

Meiss, Millard. French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry: The Boucicaut Master. London: Phaidon, 1968; p. 147.

Meiss, Millard. ”La mort et l'Office des Morts a l'époque du Maitre de Boucicaut et des Limbourg.” Revue de l'Art, nos. 1-2 (1968): 17-25; p. 20.

Spencer, Eleanor P. "Dom Louis de Busco's Psalter." In Gatherings in Honor of Dorothy E. Miner. ed. Ursula E. McCracken, Lilian M. C. Randall, and Richard H. Randall, Jr., 227-240. Baltimore: The Walters Art Gallery, 1974; p. 233, fig. 2.

Spencer, Eleanor P. "The Hours of Anne de Neufville." Burlington Magazine 119 (1977): 704-9; p. 706.

König, Eberhard. Französische Buchmalerei um 1450: Der Jouvenel-Maler, der Maler des Genfer Boccaccio und die Anfänge Jean Fouquets. Berlin : Mann, 1982; pp. 88-89 and passim.

Owens, M. B. "Musical Subjects in the Illumination of Books of Hours from Fifteenth-Century France and Flanders." Ph.D. diss, University of Chicago, 1987; pp. 211 and 460.

Wieck, Roger Seymour. Time Sanctified: The Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life. Exhibition Catalogue. Baltimore, Walters Art Gallery. New York: George Braziller, 1988; pp. 99, 185, cat. no. 33, Pl. 31 (fol. 94v).

Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 2. France, 1420-1540. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Walters Art Gallery, 1989; pp. 54-61, cat. no. 111.

De Gex, Jenny. Bible Flowers. New York: Harmony Books, 1996; p. 28 (fol. 94v).

Cerquiglini-Toulet, Jacqueline. The Color of Melancholy: The Uses of Books in the Fourteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.

Newman, Paul B. Daily Life in the Middle Ages. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co.. 2001; p. 66.


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Han, Yuna

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservator: Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Herbold, Rebekah; Tabritha, Ariel; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.