I had the fortunate pleasure of handling a book of hours that was created in Tours in the second half of the 15th century.  Specific information about this book of hours can be found here.

As always clicking on the pictures will provide a larger more detailed look.

Like many books of hours it is not that big.


Roughly 18 cm or 7 inches

A small book indeed.  Easily fits in your hand.


Roughly 8 cm or 3.15 inches

It is very common for books of hours to have calendars in the beginning of the book.  Often you will get first half the calendar on the recto and the second half of the calendar on the verso of that same page.  It certainly was the case with this book of hours.

May 1st half

First half of May on the Recto. Alternating blue and red ink with flat gilding for important Saint’s Days.

2nd half of May.  Alternating blue and red with important saint's days in flat gilding

2nd half of May. Alternating blue and red with important saint’s days in flat gilding

The detail work here is truly inspiring.  Interlinear spacing is between 3-5 mm high.  The person doing the lining seems to have been doing it without much of a guide because the lines change in spacing on the same page, and from page to page.  The letter x height is 2 mm., truly very small work.  That illumination on the first half of May?    13 mm wide 7 mm tall and extremely detailed.

May Detail

Detailed illumination including hair fine gilding over paint.

Each month had a similar kind of detailed illumination that was the exact same size as this one.  Beautiful work with the writing and the illumination.

It was neat to see full page miniatures as well.

Full page miniature of St John the Apostle

Full page miniature of St John the Apostle

We know this is St John the Apostle because of the eagle that is with him.  He is writing in a book using a feather quill pen.


If we look at the illuminated letter and the side of the brook we see great detail

The verso of the page reveals something about the base used for this miniature.


Notice the green coloring that is coming through the page. That was the base used.

As most readers of my blog know, I am a calligrapher and I study these manuscripts as research into codicology. (how books were made and laid out,) as well as the paleography, (how the words and letter are written and change over time and place.)

We are seeing that the text block of the page is actually very small with only twelve (12) lines of script per page and only about 25 character (including spaces,) per line.

This is a beautiful script known as Gothic Littera  Bastarda. This beautiful script is a well balanced combination of Gothics strict rigidity with an eye pleasing roundedness.  It is instructive to look at a page in its fullness and then at the text block and then in detail about interesting elements and the script.


The full page in perspective.


The text block for a good sense of the writing.


Up close for the illuminated initial and the script.

I’ll be making more posts about the script later.  For now, enjoy these pictures of the full page miniature of Mary and Baby Jesus.


Entire page


Detailed top


Detail Middle


Detail bottom


They wrote on baby Jesus.


6 responses to “BOOK OF HOURS – TOURS

  1. Pingback: 1450 – 1499 French Batarde | scribescribbling·

  2. Hi,
    A have a fragment of a book of hours with very similair illuminations. \can i send some pics to ou so you can compare?
    best, Maarten

  3. Pingback: Book of Hours- Tours – The Script | scribescribbling·

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