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Walters Ms. W.284, Book of Hours

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Shelf mark



Book of Hours

Text title
Book of Hours


This French Book of Hours was produced in two phases: the text and most of the secondary decoration were completed in the 1420s, while thirteen large miniatures were added around 1480 by artists trained in Rouen in the style of the Master of the Geneva Latini. The initial female owner is depicted on fol. 139v kneeling in front of St. John the Evangelist. Two coats of arms probably associated with the owner appear twice, on fol. 139r-v. The celebration of specific calendar feasts indicates the volume’s original ownership in the diocese of Coutances, a part of the archbishopric of Rouen. The introduction of Nathan into the scene of the penitent David at the beginning of the Penitential Psalms was a popular theme in illumination in Rouen around this time. A special devotion to St. John the Evangelist is shown by an unusual citation of his name in the heading of a prayer to the Virgin on fol. 128v, and his unusually elaborate depiction on fol. 139v.


Ca. 15th century CE


Rouen, France






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin. The secondary language of this manuscript is French, Middle (ca.1400-1600).

Support material


Medium-weight parchment, relatively well prepared; first front flyleaf is modern paper and second front flyleaf is possibly original parchment, or else added in second quarter of sixteenth century at the time of rebinding


Foliation: ii+140

Modern pencil foliation, upper right corners, rectos


Formula: Quires 1-2: 6 (fols. 1-12); Quires 3-18: 8 (fols. 13-140)

Catchwords: Centered on versos lower margin beginning on fol. 20v



14.9 cm wide by 22.5 cm high

Written surface

7.1 cm wide by 10.1 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 16
  3. Layout does not apply to calendar; written surface: 7.4 cm wide by 10.1 cm high; four columns of 17 lines

fols. 1r - 140v:
  1. Title: Book of Hours
  2. Contents: Use of Coutances; texts in Latin and French
  3. Decoration note: Thirteen miniatures less than full-page with figural scenes in lower borders; twenty-four calendar illuminations with labors and zodiac symbols for each month (17 lines); decorated initials throughout (1-4 lines); rectangular borders filled with flowers, fruits, and acanthus at sides of text divisions; borders filling area beside illuminations in calendar and around smaller miniatures at text divisions; line fillers throughout; rubrics in tan-rose; text in black ink
fols. 1r - 12v:
  1. Title: Calendar
  2. Rubric: Janvier a XXXI jour
  3. Contents: Calendar in French, about one half filled; Egyptian days specified; use of Coutances, diocese in archbishopric of Rouen; major feasts in blue and regular feasts in red and rose; feasts of note include: Geneviève (Jan. 3), Antony (Jan. 17), Julianus (Jan. 27), Veronica (Feb. 12), Honorina (Feb. 28), Edward (Mar. 16), Patricius (Mar. 17), Valeric (Apr. 1), Vigor (Apr. 23), Amator (May 2), Servatius (May 13), Honoratius (May 16), Ebremund (June 9), John Evangelist (June 26), Thomas of Canterbury (July 7), 'La dedicace de coust[a]n[ces]' (July 12), Vigor (July 14), Hilarinus (July 16), Clarus (July 18), Edmund (July 19), Martha (July 29), Dominic (Aug. 5), Romanus (Aug. 9), Ragnobert (Sep. 3), Gorgonius (Sep. 9), Lambert (Sep. 17), Laudus (Sep. 21), 'Les reliques de coust[a]n[ces]' (Sep. 30), Michael (Oct. 16), Mellonius (Oct. 22), Romanus (Oct. 23), Clarus (Nov. 4), Rumpharius (Nov. 18), 'O sapiencia' (Dec. 16), Gratianus (Dec. 18), Ursinus (Dec. 30)
fols. 13r - 20v:
  1. Title: Devotional Sequence
  2. Rubric: Sequencia sancti evuangelii secundum lucam
  3. Incipit: In illo tempore
  4. Contents: Fols. 13r-17r: Gospel Sequences, Luke 1.26-38, Matthew 2.1-12, Mark 16.14-20, John 1.1-14; fols. 17r-18r: Gospel Sequence of Passion according to John 19.1-35; fols. 18r-20v: Prayers to Christ and Virgin
fols. 21r - 60v:
  1. Title: Hours of the Virgin
  2. Rubric: Principium
  3. Incipit: In honore dei et beate marie
  4. Contents: Use of Coutances; canonical hours headed in Latin and French
  5. Decoration note: Eight miniatures less than full-page, on fols. 21r, 29v, 38r, 42r, 45v, 48v, 52r, and 57r
fols. 61r - 63v:
  1. Title: Hours of the Cross
  2. Rubric: Matines de la crois
  3. Incipit: Domine labia mea aperies
  4. Decoration note: Miniature less than full-page, fol. 61r
fols. 64r - 68v:
  1. Title: Hours of the Holy Spirit
  2. Rubric: Matines du saint esprit
  3. Incipit: Domine labia mea aperies
  4. Decoration note: Miniature less than full-page, fol. 64r
fols. 69r - 84v:
  1. Title: Seven Penitential Psalms, litany, and collects
  2. Rubric: Les sept pseaumes
  3. Incipit: Domine ne in furore tuo arguas me
  4. Contents: Fols. 69r-78v: Seven Penitential Psalms; fols. 78v-82r: Litany, twenty-five martyrs including George,Cornelius, Dionysius, Clarus, Valentine, twenty-one confessors including Audoenus, Laudus, Bernard, Leonard, Rumpharius, Benedict, Amandus, Remigius, Eligius, Aegydius, seventeen virgins including Mary Magdalene, Geneviève, Radegundis, Juliana; fols. 82r-84r: Petitions, invocations; fols. 84r-v: five collects
  5. Hand note: Full-page miniature fol. 69r
fols. 85r - 125v:
  1. Title: Office of the Dead and Suffrages
  2. Rubric: Ad vespres antiene
  3. Incipit: Dilexi, quoniam exaudiet Dominus
  4. Contents: Fols. 85r-118v: Office of the Dead for use of Coutances; Fols. 118v-125v: Suffrages with French headings: to Sts. Michael, John Baptist, Peter and Paul, John Evangelist, James the Greater, All Apostles, Lawrence, Christopher, Sebastian, Martin, Nicolas, Maurus, Aegydius, Mary Magdalene, Catherine, Susanna, Margaret, All Saints
  5. Decoration note: Miniature less than full-page, fol. 85r
fols. 126r - 139r:
  1. Title: Devotional sequences
  2. Rubric: Devoste oraison de nostre dame
  3. Incipit: Obsecro te domina sancta maria mater dei
  4. Contents: Fols. 126r-130v: Two prayers to the Virgin, the second heading also addressed to St. John Evangelist; fols. 130v-132v: Verse prayer to Christ; fols. 132v-134v: Prayer to Virgin; fols. 134v-138v: Fifteen Joys of the Virgin; 138v-139r: Prayer to the Cross
fols. 139v - 140r:
  1. Title: Suffrage to St. John the Evangelist
  2. Rubric: Commemoration a monseigneur saint iehan le vierge
  3. Incipit: Ecce ego iohannes vidi ostium apertum in celo
  4. Decoration note: Miniature less than full-page, fol. 139v


fol. 21r:

  1. W.284, fol. 21r
  2. Title: Annunciation
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 29v:

  1. W.284, fol. 29v
  2. Title: Visitation
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 38r:

  1. W.284, fol. 38r
  2. Title: Nativity
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 42r:

  1. W.284, fol. 42r
  2. Title: Annunciation to Shepherds and Shepherdess
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 45v:

  1. W.284, fol. 45v
  2. Title: Adoration of the Magi
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 48v:

  1. W.284, fol. 48v
  2. Title: Presentation in the Temple
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 52r:

  1. W.284, fol. 52r
  2. Title: Flight into Egypt, Massacre of the Innocents, and Miracle of the Cornfield
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 57r:

  1. W.284, fol. 57r
  2. Title: Coronation of the Virgin
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 61r:

  1. W.284, fol. 61r
  2. Title: Crucifixion
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 64r:

  1. W.284, fol. 64r
  2. Title: Pentecost
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 69r:

  1. W.284, fol. 69r
  2. Title: Nathan Admonishing David
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 85r:

  1. W.284, fol. 85r
  2. Title: Four monks seated behind corpse; St. Michael and Devil battling for man's soul
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page

fol. 139v:

  1. W.284, fol. 139v
  2. Title: St. John Evangelist and reverent female patron
  3. Form: Miniature less than full-page


The binding is not original.

Rebound in France in the second quarter of the sixteenth century; brown calf; sewn on five slit straps; corners and spine repaired in the nineteenth century


Created for use of Coutances in the 1420s, with text completed in that initial stage, and illumination completed around 1480 at Rouen by the Master of the Geneva Latini and his workshop; female owner's portrait on fol. 139v; two coats of arms on fol. 139r, one of Moy de la Croix family of Beauvais (left) and the other of Norman family of Bazan de Flamanville in region of Caen (right)

Rebound in France ca. 1540

Léon Gruel, Paris, late nineteenth or early twentieth century; his bookplate engraved "L G" and numbered "1218;" number also found on sale slip now in WAM file

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Gruel before 1931


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


De Ricci, Seymour, and W. J. Wilson. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. Vol. 1. New York: H. W. Wilson Company, 1935; p. 791, cat. no. 218

Bowles, Edmund A. "A Checklist of Musical Instruments in Fifteenth Century Illuminated Manuscripts at the Walters Art Gallery." Music Library Association 32 (1976): 719-726; pp. 721-724

Owens, M. B. "Musical Subjects in the Illumination of Books of Hours from Fifteenth-Century France and Flanders." Ph.D. diss, University of Chicago, 1987; p. 457, figs. 46-48 (fols. 42r, 57r, 69r)

Wieck, Roger S. Time Sanctified. The Book of Hours in Medieval Art and Life. New York: George Braziller, 1988; pp. 128 and 199, cat. no. 60, fig. 117 (fol. 85r)

Owens, Margareth Boyer. "The Image of King David in Prayer in Fifteenth-Century Books of Hours." Imago Musicae, International Yearbook of Musical Iconography 6 (1989): 23-38; p. 28, fig. 3

Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 2. France, 1420-1540. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Walters Art Gallery, 1989; pp. 294-300, cat. no. 162


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Han, Yuna

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Conservator: Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Han, Yuna; Tabritha, Ariel; Wiegand, Kimber


The Walters Art Museum


Licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Access Rights, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode. It is requested that copies of any published articles based on the information in this data set be sent to the curator of manuscripts, The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD 21201.