Leaf from a book of hours with a funeral mass

Accession Number

Leaf from a book of hours with a funeral mass

Gold Scrolls Group

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
ink, tempera, gold, and silver alloy on parchment

7 9/16 in x 5 9/16 in (19.2 cm x 14.1 cm);19 5/16 in x 14 5/16 in (49.05 cm x 36.35 cm);7 1/2 in x 5 9/16 in (19.1 cm x 14.1 cm)

Credit Line
Anonymous Gift in memory of Mrs. John Alexander

Label copy
March 28, 2009
This manuscript page comes from a book of hours, a private devotional book containing prayers to be recited at particular times of the day. One set of prayers included at the end of nearly every book of hours was the Office of the Dead, which was recited during funerals as well as in private to commemorate the departed. This full-page miniature probably marked the opening of the Office of the Dead, since it depicts three tonsured clergymen singing the office next to a draped coffin while four hooded mourners look on.

Subject matter
This richly colored miniature painting was taken from a book of hours, a type of personal devotional manuscript that enjoyed widespread popularity from the thirteenth through fifteenth centuries and contained sets of daily prayers, or "offices." The painting depicts a funeral mass attended by hooded mourners and performed by three clergymen. The miniature prefaced the set of prayers known as the Office of the Dead that was recited as a preparation for death and afterwards for the departed soul.

Physical Description
This miniature painting depicts a group of male figures gathered around a coffin draped with a blue cloth. Two pairs of candles set on tall candlesticks are placed at the head and foot of the coffin. To the left of the coffin stand four mourners wearing long gray robes with hoods. Facing them from the other side of the coffin are three tonsured clergymen dressed in white, who look at an open book placed before them. The group stands upon a green tiled floor next to a pink wall. The background is painted red and decorated with an exuberant pattern of gold scrolling foliage motifs.

Primary Object Classification
Unbound Work

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)
Bound Work

Collection Area

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manuscripts (document genre)

11 Related Resources

Before 1492
(Part of 3 Learning Collections)
Death and Dying
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Devotional Objects Across Religions
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Early Modern European Objects
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Grief and Mourning Rituals
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Introduction to Manuscripts and Early Print
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Religious Life in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Miniature Paintings Across Cultures 
(Part of: Visual Cultures of Islam )

& Author Notes

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