Woodcut is a relief printing technique in printmaking. An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts. Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while characters or images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print; the block is cut along the wood grain. The surface is covered with ink by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller, leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas. Multiple colors can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks; the art of carving the woodcut can be called "xylography", but this is used in English for images alone, although that and "xylographic" are used in connection with block books, which are small books containing text and images in the same block. They became popular in Europe during the latter half of the 15th century. A single-sheet woodcut is a woodcut presented as a single image or print, as opposed to a book illustration.
Since it's origins in China, the practice of woodcut has spread across the world from Europe, to other parts of Asia, to Latin America. In both Europe and the Far East, traditionally the artist only designed the woodcut, the block-carving was left to specialist craftsmen, called block-cutters, or Formschneider in Germany, some of whom became well-known in their own right. Among these, the best-known are the 16th-century Hieronymus Andreae, Hans Lützelburger and Jost de Negker, all of whom ran workshops and operated as printers and publishers; the formschneider in turn handed the block on to specialist printers. There were further specialists; this is why woodcuts are sometimes described by museums or books as "designed by" rather than "by" an artist. The division of labour had the advantage that a trained artist could adapt to the medium easily, without needing to learn the use of woodworking tools. There were various methods of transferring the artist's drawn design onto the block for the cutter to follow.
Either the drawing would be made directly onto the block, or a drawing on paper was glued to the block. Either way, the artist's drawing was destroyed during the cutting process. Other methods were used, including tracing. In both Europe and the Far East in the early 20th century, some artists began to do the whole process themselves. In Japan, this movement was called sōsaku-hanga, as opposed to shin-hanga, a movement that retained traditional methods. In the West, many artists used the easier technique of linocut instead. Compared to intaglio techniques like etching and engraving, only low pressure is required to print; as a relief method, it is only necessary to ink the block and bring it into firm and contact with the paper or cloth to achieve an acceptable print. In Europe, a variety of woods including boxwood and several nut and fruit woods like pear or cherry were used. There are three methods of printing to consider: Stamping: Used for many fabrics and most early European woodcuts; these were printed by putting the paper/fabric on a table or other flat surface with the block on top, pressing or hammering the back of the block.
Rubbing: Apparently the most common method for Far Eastern printing on paper at all times. Used for European woodcuts and block-books in the fifteenth century, widely for cloth. Used for many Western woodcuts from about 1910 to the present; the block goes face up with the paper or fabric on top. The back is rubbed with a "hard pad, a flat piece of wood, a burnisher, or a leather frotton". A traditional Japanese tool used for this is called a baren. In Japan, complex wooden mechanisms were used to help hold the woodblock still and to apply proper pressure in the printing process; this was helpful once multiple colors were introduced and had to be applied with precision atop previous ink layers. Printing in a press: presses only seem to have been used in Asia in recent times. Printing-presses were used from about 1480 for European prints and block-books, before that for woodcut book illustrations. Simple weighted presses may have been used in Europe before the print-press, but firm evidence is lacking.
A deceased Abbess of Mechelen in 1465 had "unum instrumentum ad imprintendum scripturas et ymagines... cum 14 aliis lapideis printis"—"an instrument for printing texts and pictures... with 14 stones for printing". This is too early to be a Gutenberg-type printing press in that location. Main articles Old master print for Europe, Woodblock printing in Japan for Japan, Lubok for Russia Woodcut originated in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and on paper; the earliest woodblock printed fragments to survive are from China, from the Han dynasty, are of silk printed with flowers in three colours. "In the 13th century the Chinese technique of blockprinting was transmitted to Europe." Paper arrived in Europe from China via al-Andalus later, was being manufactured in Italy by the end of the thirteenth century, in Burgundy and Germany by the end of the fourteenth. In Europe, woodcut is the oldest technique used for old master prints, developing about 1400, by using, on paper, existing techniques for printing.
One of the more ancient woodcuts on paper that can be seen today is The Fire Madonna, in the Cat
A panel painting is a painting made on a flat panel made of wood, either a single piece, or a number of pieces joined together. Until canvas became the more popular support medium in the 16th century, it was the normal form of support for a painting not on a wall or vellum, used for miniatures in illuminated manuscripts and paintings for the framing. Panel painting is old. A series of 6th century BC painted tablets from Pitsa represent the oldest surviving Greek panel paintings. Most classical Greek paintings that were famous in their day seem to have been of a size comparable to smaller modern works - up to a half-length portrait size. However, for a generation in the second quarter of the fifth-century BC there was a movement, called the "new painting" and led by Polygnotus, for large painted friezes painted on wood, decorating the interiors of public buildings with large and complicated subjects containing numerous figures at least half life-size, including battle scenes. We can only attempt to imagine what these looked like from some detailed literary descriptions and vase-paintings that appear to echo their compositions.
The first century BC to third century AD Fayum mummy portraits, preserved in the exceptionally dry conditions of Egypt, provide the bulk of surviving panel painting from the Imperial Roman period - about 900 face or bust portraits survive. The Severan Tondo from Egypt is one of the handful of non-funerary Graeco-Roman specimens to survive. Wood has always been the normal support for the Icons of Byzantine art and the Orthodox traditions, the earliest of which date from the 5th or 6th centuries, are the oldest panel paintings which seem to be of the highest contemporary quality. Encaustic and tempera are the two techniques used in antiquity. Encaustic ceased to be used after the early Byzantine icons. Although there seem from literary references to have been some panel paintings produced in Western Europe through the centuries between Late Antiquity and the Romanesque period, Byzantine icons were imported, there are next to no survivals in an unaltered state. In the 12th century panel painting experienced a revival because of new liturgical practices—the priest and congregation were now on the same side of the altar, leaving the space behind the altar free for the display of a holy image—and thus altar decorations were in demand.
The earliest forms of panel painting were altar fronts and crucifixes. All were painted with religious images the Christ or the Virgin, with the saints appropriate to the dedication of the church, the local town or diocese, or to the donor. Donor portraits including members of the donor's family are often shown kneeling to the side, they were for some time a cheaper alternative to the far more prestigious equivalents in metalwork, decorated with gems and ivory figures, most of which have long been broken up for their valuable materials. Painted panels for altars are most numerous in Spain Catalonia, explained by the poverty of the country at this time, as well as the lack of Reformation iconoclasm; the 13th and 14th centuries in Italy were a great period of panel painting altarpieces or other religious works. However, it is estimated that of all the panel paintings produced there, 99.9 percent have been lost. The vast majority of Early Netherlandish paintings are on panel, these include most of the earliest portraits, such as those by Jan van Eyck, some other secular scenes.
However, one of the earliest surviving oils on canvas is a French Madonna with angels of about 1410 in the Gemäldegalerie, early indeed for oil painting also. In these works the frame and panel are sometimes a single piece of wood, as with Portrait of a Man by van Eyck, where the frame was painted, including an inscription done illusionistically to resemble carving. By the 15th century with the increased wealth of Europe, the appearance of humanism, a changing attitude about the function of art and patronage, panel painting went in new directions. Secular art opened the way to the creation of chests, painted beds, birth trays and other furniture. Many such works are now hung framed on walls in museums. Many double-sided wings of altarpieces have been sawn into two one-sided panels. Canvas took over from panel in Italy by the first half of the 16th century, a change led by Mantegna and the artists of Venice. In the Netherlands the change took about a century longer, panel paintings remained common in Northern Europe after the cheaper and more portable canvas had become the main support medium.
The young Rubens and many other painters preferred it for the greater precision that could be achieved with a solid support, many of his most important works used it for paintings over four metres long in one dimension. His panels are of notoriously complicated construction, containing as many as seventeen pieces of wood. For smaller cabinet paintings, copper sheets were another rival support, from the end of the 16th century, used by many artists including Adam Elsheimer. Many Dutch painters of the Golden Age used panel for their small works, including Rembrandt on occasion. By the 18th century it had become unusual to paint on panel, except for small works to be inset into furniture, the like. But, fo
Coronation of the Virgin
The Coronation of the Virgin or Coronation of Mary is a subject in Christian art popular in Italy in the 13th to 15th centuries, but continuing in popularity until the 18th century and beyond. Christ, sometimes accompanied by God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, places a crown on the head of Mary as Queen of Heaven. In early versions the setting is a Heaven imagined as an earthly court, staffed by saints and angels; the subject is notable as one where the whole Christian Trinity is shown together, sometimes in unusual ways. Although crowned Virgins may be seen in Orthodox Christian icons, the coronation by the deity is not. Mary is sometimes shown, in both Eastern and Western Christian art, being crowned by one or two angels, but this is considered a different subject; the subject became common as part of a general increase in devotion to Mary in the Early Gothic period, is one of the commonest subjects in surviving 14th-century Italian panel paintings made to go on a side-altar in a church.
The great majority of Roman Catholic churches had "Lady chapel" dedicated to Mary. The subject is still enacted in rituals or popular pageants called May crownings, although the crowning is performed by human figures; the belief in Mary as Queen of Heaven obtained the papal sanction of Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam of October 11, 1954. It is the fifth Glorious Mystery of the Rosary; the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast every August 22, where it replaced the former octave of the Assumption of Mary in 1969, a move made by Pope Paul VI. The feast was celebrated on May 31, at the end of the Marian month, where the present general calendar now commemorates the Feast of the Visitation. In addition, there are Canonical coronations authorized by the Pope which are given to specific Marian images venerated in a particular place; the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the fifth of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary and therefore the idea that the Virgin Mother of God was physically crowned as Queen of Heaven after her Assumption is a traditional Catholic belief echoed in the Rosary.
This belief is now represented in the liturgical feast of the Queenship of Mary, that follows after the solemnity of the Assumption. The scene is the final episode in the Life of the Virgin, follows her Assumption – not yet dogma in the Middle Ages – or Dormition; the scriptural basis is found in the Song of Songs and Revelation. A sermon wrongly believed to be by Saint Jerome elaborated on these and was used by standard medieval works such as the Golden Legend and other writers; the title "Queen of Heaven", or Regina Coeli, for Mary goes back to at least the 12th century. The subject drew from the idea of the Virgin as the "throne of Solomon", the throne on which a Christ-child sits in a Madonna and Child, it was felt. In general the art of this period paid for by royalty and the nobility regarded the heavenly court as a mirror of earthly ones; the subject seems to first appear in art, unusually, in England, where a tympanum over the door of the church at Quenington in Gloucestershire of 1140 may be the earliest surviving depiction, there is another in Reading, Berkshire.
It was adopted and is prominent in the portals of French Gothic cathedrals such as Laon, Notre-Dame de Paris and Reims, indeed most 13th-century cathedrals in France. There are three examples extant on Devon roodscreen dados: at East Portlemouth and Torbryan. In earlier versions and Christ sit side by side on a wide throne, are only accompanied by angels in smaller altarpieces, although these were in polyptych form, had saints on side-panels, now separated. God the Father sits beside Christ, with the Holy Spirit hovering between them, Mary kneeling in front of them. Christ and God the Father are differentiated by age, to some extent by costume, God the Father wearing a beehive-shaped crown, reminiscent of a Papal tiara. By the 15th century some more individual interpretations are found. From the High Renaissance onwards the subject is combined with an Assumption, by having a group of the Apostles on the ground below the heavenly scene; as the central panel of altarpieces became larger, the only panel used, with predella and side-panels ceasing to be used, the Coronation was one of the subjects suited to a tall composition if it had saints or apostles on the ground below.
The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin is a subject of devotion throughout Christianity. Beyond art, the Coronation is a central motif in Marian Processions around the world, such as the Grand Marian Procession in Los Angeles, revived by the Queen of Angels Foundation, founded by Mark Anchor Albert; the "crown" of Mary has been mentioned since the 6th century, as "corona virginum". The crown has several meanings in secular depictions; the ancient laurel crown in the Olympic Games signified victory, a crown in gold and precious stones indicate power and wealth. In Christian iconography, the crown develops religious meanings. In an early mosaic in Ravenna, virgins present a crown to the child and Mary as a gesture of humility; the Three kings present their crowns to the newly born Jesus as a symbol of secular power submitting to Christ. Marian crowns include elements of victory and glory during the Baroque period. A crowned
Old master print
An old master print is a work of art produced by a printing process within the Western tradition. The term remains current in the art trade, there is no easy alternative in English to distinguish the works of "fine art" produced in printmaking from the vast range of decorative and popular prints that grew alongside the artistic print from the 15th century onwards. Fifteenth-century prints are sufficiently rare that they are classed as old master prints if they are of crude or workmanlike artistic quality. A date of about 1830 is taken as marking the end of the period whose prints are covered by this term; the main techniques used, in order of their introduction, are woodcut, etching and aquatint, although there are others. Different techniques are combined in a single print. With rare exceptions printed on textiles, such as silk, or on vellum, old master prints are printed on paper; this article is concerned with the artistic and social aspects of the subject. Many great European artists, such as Albrecht Dürer and Francisco Goya, were dedicated printmakers.
In their own day, their international reputations came from their prints, which were spread far more than their paintings. Influences between artists were mainly transmitted beyond a single city by prints, for the same reason. Prints therefore are brought up in detailed analyses of individual paintings in art history. Today, thanks to colour photo reproductions, public galleries, their paintings are much better known, whilst their prints are only exhibited, for conservation reasons, but some museum print rooms allow visitors to see their collection, sometimes only by appointment, large museums now present great numbers of prints online in high-resolution enlargeable images. The oldest technique is woodcut, or woodblock printing, invented as a method for printing on cloth in China, separately in Egypt in the Byzantine period; this had reached Europe via the Byzantine or Islamic worlds before 1300, as a method of printing patterns on textiles. Paper arrived in Europe from China via Islamic Spain later, was being manufactured in Italy by the end of the thirteenth century, in Burgundy and Germany by the end of the fourteenth.
Religious images and playing cards are documented as being produced on paper printed, by a German in Bologna in 1395. However, the most impressive printed European images to survive from before 1400 are printed on cloth, for use as hangings on walls or furniture, including altars and lecterns; some were used as a pattern to embroider over. Some religious images were used as bandages; the earliest print images are of a high artistic standard, were designed by artists with a background in painting. Whether these artists cut the blocks themselves, or only inked the design on the block for another to carve, is not known. During the fifteenth century the number of prints produced increased as paper became available and cheaper, the average artistic level fell, so that by the second half of the century the typical woodcut is a crude image; the great majority of surviving 15th-century prints are religious, although these were the ones more to survive. Their makers were sometimes called "Jesus maker" or "saint-maker" in documents.
As with manuscript books, monastic institutions sometimes produced, sold, prints. No artists can be identified with specific woodcuts until towards the end of the century; the little evidence we have suggests that woodcut prints became common and cheap during the fifteenth century, were affordable by skilled workers in towns. For example, what may be the earliest surviving Italian print, the "Madonna of the Fire", was hanging by a nail to a wall in a small school in Forlì in 1428; the school caught fire, the crowd who gathered to watch saw the print carried up into the air by the fire, before falling down into the crowd. This was regarded as a miraculous escape and the print was carried to Forlì Cathedral, where it remains, since 1636 in a special chapel, displayed once a year. Like the majority of prints before 1460, only a single impression of this print has survived. Woodcut blocks are printed with light pressure, are capable of printing several thousand impressions, at this period some prints may well have been produced in that quantity.
Many prints were hand-coloured in watercolour. Italy, Germany and the Netherlands were the main areas of production; however prints are portable, were transported across Europe. A Venetian document of 1441 complains about cheap imports of playing cards damaging the local industry. Block-books were a popular form of book, where a page with both pictures and text was cut as a single woodcut, they were much cheaper than manuscript books, were produced in the Netherlands. As a relief technique woodcut can be printed together with movable type, after this invention arrived in Europe about 1450 printers came to include woodcuts in their books; some book owners pasted prints
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works created from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant religious buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists include three-dimensional structures and sculpture. Modern vernacular usage has extended the term "stained glass" to include domestic lead light and objects d'art created from foil glasswork exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany; as a material stained glass is glass, coloured by adding metallic salts during its manufacture. The coloured glass is crafted into stained glass windows in which small pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures, held together by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame. Painted details and yellow stain are used to enhance the design; the term stained glass is applied to windows in which the colours have been painted onto the glass and fused to the glass in a kiln.
Stained glass, as an art and a craft, requires the artistic skill to conceive an appropriate and workable design, the engineering skills to assemble the piece. A window must fit snugly into the space for which it is made, must resist wind and rain, especially in the larger windows, must support its own weight. Many large windows have withstood the test of time and remained intact since the Late Middle Ages. In Western Europe they constitute the major form of pictorial art to have survived. In this context, the purpose of a stained glass window is not to allow those within a building to see the world outside or primarily to admit light but rather to control it. For this reason stained glass windows have been described as "illuminated wall decorations"; the design of a window may be figurative. Windows within a building may be thematic, for example: within a church – episodes from the life of Christ. Stained glass is still popular today, but referred to as art glass, it is prevalent in luxury homes, commercial buildings, places of worship.
Artists and companies are contracted to create beautiful art glass ranging from domes, backsplashes, etc. During the late medieval period, glass factories were set up where there was a ready supply of silica, the essential material for glass manufacture. Silica requires a high temperature to melt, something not all glass factories were able to achieve; such materials as potash and lead can be added to lower the melting temperature. Other substances, such as lime, are added to rebuild the weakened network and make the glass more stable. Glass is coloured by adding metallic oxide powders or finely divided metals while it is in a molten state. Copper oxides produce green or bluish green, cobalt makes deep blue, gold produces wine red and violet glass. Much modern red glass is produced using copper, less expensive than gold and gives a brighter, more vermilion shade of red. Glass coloured while in the clay pot in the furnace is known as pot metal glass, as opposed to flashed glass. Using a blow-pipe, a "gather" of molten glass is taken from the pot heating in the furnace.
The gather is formed to a bubble of air blown into it. Using metal tools, molds of wood that have been soaking in water, gravity, the gather is manipulated to form a long, cylindrical shape; as it cools, it is reheated. During the process, the bottom of the cylinder is removed. Once brought to the desired size it is left to cool. One side of the cylinder is opened, it is put into another oven to heat and flatten it, placed in an annealer to cool at a controlled rate, making the material more stable. "Hand-blown" cylinder and crown glass were the types used in ancient stained-glass windows. Stained glass windows were in churches and chapels as well as many more well respected buildings; this hand-blown glass is created by blowing a bubble of air into a gather of molten glass and spinning it, either by hand or on a table that revolves like a potter's wheel. The centrifugal force causes the molten bubble to flatten, it can be cut into small sheets. Glass formed this way can be either coloured and used for stained-glass windows, or uncoloured as seen in small paned windows in 16th- and 17th-century houses.
Concentric, curving waves are characteristic of the process. The center of each piece of glass, known as the "bull's-eye", is subject to less acceleration during spinning, so it remains thicker than the rest of the sheet, it has the distinctive lump of glass left by the "pontil" rod, which holds the glass as it is spun out. This lumpy, refractive quality means the bulls-eyes are less transparent, but they have still been used for windows, both domestic and ecclesiastical. Crown glass is still made today, but not on a large scale. Rolled glass is produced by pouring molten glass onto a metal or graphite table and rolling it into a sheet using a large metal cylinder, similar to rolling out a pie crust; the rolling can be done by machine. Glass can be "double rolled", which means it is passed through two cylinders at once to yield glass of a specified thickness (typically about 1/8" or
Joachim and Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate
Joachim and Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate is a 1504 woodcut by the German artist Albrecht Dürer that depicts the standard scene of the parents of the Virgin Mary and Anne meeting at the Golden Gate of Jerusalem, upon learning that she will bear a child. The story of the Meeting at the Golden Gate is not in the New Testament, but is in the Protoevangelium of James and other apocryphal accounts, it featured in other popular accounts. The print shows an embracing couple beneath an ornamental archway, surrounded by neighbours and fools; the work is one of 16 woodcuts in Dürer's Life of the Virgin series, which he executed between 1501 and 1511. Joachim and Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate is the only work in the series to include a date. Throughout the series, the Virgin is displayed as an intermediary between the divine and the earth, yet shown with a range of human frailties; the full series of prints was first published in 1511. Printed on the reverse of each was a Latin text written by a member of his intellectual circle in Nuremberg, the Benedictine Abbot Benedictus Chelidonius.
Benedictus Chelidonius' work describes the story of the married couple Joachim and Anne, though they were devoted to each other, were unhappy as they were childless, which they took as a sign that they must have been rejected by God. An angel informs Anne of her conception, while at the same time asking her to meet her husband at the city gate in Jerusalem. On meeting, the couple entwine in joy. According to Chelidonius: "Overjoyed Anne threw herself into the arms of her husband. For they knew from the heavenly messenger that the child would be a Queen, powerful on heaven and on earth". In traditional depictions of the occasion, the pair don't kiss. Dürer here follows an early Renaissance convention involving the illusion of looking through an open window, he framed many of his works in this way, including Joachim and Anne Meeting at the Golden Gate, outlined by a Renaissance arch. The artist's mix of classical and sixteenth-century Nuremberg motifs, as well as the northern European setting, were utilised to bring the images closer to the audience.
According to the critic Laurie Meunier Graves, "these prints manage to illuminate the sacred while at the same time providing scenes of homely, Renaissance life. They are a beautiful blend of the secular. In addition, woodcuts are an art form that gives plenty of latitude to the imagination and leaves room for fancy." As with the other works in the series, it is distinguished by virtuoso use of line and skilled cutting. The church had developed the doctrine that the Virgin Mary was, born without original sin. In the Middle Ages the doctrine remained controversial, opposed by St Thomas Aquinas and his Dominican Order, but supported by the Franciscan Order, it was not formally established as doctrine in the First Vatican Council. This scene represented the conception of Mary, was an early scene in the many cycles of the Life of the Virgin, the counterpart of the Annunciation showing the conception of Jesus. To some medieval viewers, the kiss was a literal representation of the moment of Mary's conception, while for others it was a symbolic representation.
The main figures may be accompanied Anne with women and Joachim with shepherds. The Archangel Gabriel, always shown in Annunciations, may appear here also. Sometimes other saints are included; the 14th and 15th centuries were the heyday of depictions. More allegorical depictions of the Immaculate Conception, featuring an adult Mary, replaced this scene in representing the doctrine. Hall, Hall's Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, 1996, John Murray, ISBN 0719541476 Kurth, Dr. Willi. "The complete woodcuts of Albrecht Durer". New York: Arden Book Co, 1935. Nurnberg, Verlag Hans Carl. "Dürer in Dublin: Engravings and woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer". Chester Beatty Libraery, 1983. Strauss, Walter L. "Albrecht Durer Woodcuts and Woodblocks". The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 124, No. 955, October, 1982. Pp. 638–639. Albrecht Durer in the "History of Art"
Book of hours
The book of hours is a Christian devotional book popular in the Middle Ages. It is the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript. Like every manuscript, each manuscript book of hours is unique in one way or another, but most contain a similar collection of texts and psalms with appropriate decorations, for Christian devotion. Illumination or decoration is minimal in many examples restricted to decorated capital letters at the start of psalms and other prayers, but books made for wealthy patrons may be lavish, with full-page miniatures. Books of hours were written in Latin, although there are many or written in vernacular European languages Dutch; the English term primer is now reserved for those books written in English. Tens of thousands of books of hours have survived to the present day, in libraries and private collections throughout the world; the typical book of hours is an abbreviated form of the breviary which contained the Divine Office recited in monasteries. It was developed for lay people who wished to incorporate elements of monasticism into their devotional life.
Reciting the hours centered upon the reading of a number of psalms and other prayers. A typical example contains the Calendar of Church feasts, extracts from the Four Gospels, the Mass readings for major feasts, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the fifteen Psalms of Degrees, the seven Penitential Psalms, a Litany of Saints, an Office for the Dead and the Hours of the Cross. Most 15th-century books of hours have these basic contents; the Marian prayers Obsecro te and O Intemerata were added, as were devotions for use at Mass, meditations on the Passion of Christ, among other optional texts. The book of hours has its ultimate origin in the Psalter, which monks and nuns were required to recite. By the 12th century this had developed into the breviary, with weekly cycles of psalms, hymns and readings which changed with the liturgical season. A selection of texts was produced in much shorter volumes and came to be called a book of hours. Many books of hours were made for women. There is some evidence that they were sometimes given as a wedding present from a husband to his bride.
They were passed down through the family, as recorded in wills. Although the most illuminated books of hours were enormously expensive, a small book with little or no illumination was affordable much more and so during the 15th century; the earliest surviving English example was written for a laywoman living in or near Oxford in about 1240. It is smaller than a modern paperback but illuminated with major initials, but no full-page miniatures. By the 15th century, there are examples of servants owning their own Books of Hours. In a court case from 1500, a pauper woman is accused of stealing a domestic servant's prayerbook; the books included prayers composed for their owners, but more the texts are adapted to their tastes or sex, including the inclusion of their names in prayers. Some include images depicting their owners, some their coats of arms. These, together with the choice of saints commemorated in the calendar and suffrages, are the main clues for the identity of the first owner. Eamon Duffy explains.
He claims that the "personal character of these books was signaled by the inclusion of prayers specially composed or adapted for their owners." Furthermore, he states that "as many as half the surviving manuscript Books of Hours have annotations, marginalia or additions of some sort. Such additions might amount to no more than the insertion of some regional or personal patron saint in the standardized calendar, but they include devotional material added by the owner." Owners could write in specific dates important to them, notes on the months where things happened that they wished to remember, the images found within these books would be personalized to the owners- such as localized saints and local festivities. By at least the 15th century, the Netherlands and Paris workshops were producing books of hours for stock or distribution, rather than waiting for individual commissions; these were sometimes with spaces left for the addition of personalized elements such as local feasts or heraldry.
The style and layout for traditional books of hours became standardized around the middle of the thirteenth century. The new style can be seen in the books produced by the Oxford illuminator William de Brailes who ran a commercial workshop, his books included various aspects of the Church's breviary and other liturgical aspects for use by the laity. "He incorporated a perpetual calendar, prayers to the Virgin Mary, the Stations of the Cross, prayers to the Holy Spirit, Penitential psalms, prayers for the dead, suffrages to the Saints. The book’s goal was to help his devout patroness to structure her daily spiritual life in accordance with the eight canonical hours, Matins to Compline, observed by all devout members of the Church; the text, augmented by rubrication, gilding and beautiful illuminations, sought to inspire meditation on the mysteries of faith, the sacrifice made by Christ for man, the horrors of hell, to highlight devotion to the Virgin Mary whose popularity was at a zenith during the 13th century."
This arrangement was maintained over the years as many aristocrats commissioned the production of their own books. By the end of the 15th century, the advent of printing made books more affordable and much of the emerging middle