Book of Hours Leaf


Book of Hours Leaf

French, early 16th century

University of Oregon Library, Ms 4


Diebold, William. The Illustrated Book in the Age of Printing: Books and Manuscripts from Oregon Collections. Portland, OR: Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, 1993, p. 12 - Quoted with permission

Given the text's popularity in the late Middle Ages, it is not surprising that Books of Hours were printed in great numbers after Gutenberg's invention. These printed Books of Hours resemble their manuscript counterparts in many ways, including the program of decoration. There is an exceptionally close iconographic correspondence between number 13b, a manuscript, and the left-hand page in number 31, a printed book [these references apply to the exhibit for which this text was originally a catalog entry]. The two images of the Tree of Jesse, a rendering of the genealogy of Christ, are so similar that they must be related (albeit perhaps not directly). But what is that relationship? Although we tend to think of manuscripts serving as models for printed books, in this case we cannot be certain if the manuscript leaf or the printed book was made first. The woodcut might copy the manuscript, but the miniature could equally well have been copied from the printed book, which would have been widely distributed.