University of Kentucky Special Collections
Kentuckiensis III

Book of Hours
4th quarter, fifteenth century, Northeastern Italy, School of Ferrara
Gift of J. Christian Bay


KY. III is in excellent state of preservation, although two leaves are known to be missing, and several prayers were appended to the original manuscript at later dates. The inclusion of St. Vincent the confessor in the calendar for April 5 suggests that its execution postdate 1455, the date of the Dominican saint's canonization.

In contrast to the exuberance of decoration in northen European Books of Hours, Italian exempla tend to be somewhat more reserved, ornamenting fewer pages. In KY. III three important sections in the Book--the Penitential Psalms, the Office of the Dead, and the Office of the Passion--are provided with full borders; the opening to the Hours of the Virgin doubtlessly was also so decorated but is now missing. On each folio, a decorated initial is surrounded by borders on the folio's four sides. Ornament tends to be symmetrical and brilliantly colored, often with considerable suggestion of three-dimensionality. In each of these folios, the classicizing putti in the lower margins pantomime actions concording with the sense of the text: putti sleeping next to a skull for the Office of the Dead, towing acanthus garlands in imitation of figures bearing the dead Christ for the Office of the Passion, and playing instruments in accompaniment to the incipit of the Penitential Psalms.
Notes from "The Illumined Word." University of Kentucky Art Museum. Catalog, 1983.

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