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Walters Ms. W.87, Incomplete Book of Hours

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Shelf mark



Incomplete Book of Hours

Text title
Book of Hours


This Book of Hours was made ca. 1310-20, likely in Ghent. It was badly rebound with a sixteenth-century Flemish binding by Léon Gruel in Paris at the end of the nineteenth or early twentieth century, and the initials of Gruel and Engelmann are printed on the bookplate on the front pastedown. The manuscript lacks its calendar, and the text is incomplete and misbound. In the fourteenth century a prayer for Communion, written in French, was added at the end of the book. Initials in gold, blue and pink mark the divisions of the text. The manuscript is richly illuminated with drolleries; painted on the borders of each folio, they would have amused the reader with their playful animals, hybrids, and human figures.


Ca. 1310-20 CE


Flanders (Ghent?)






The primary language in this manuscript is Latin. The secondary language of this manuscript is French, Old (842-ca.1400).

Support material


Thin to medium-weight parchment, well prepared on both sides; trimmed at the top, bottom, and fore-edge, as evinced by drolleries and catchwords which are sometimes cropped; modern parchment flyleaves


Foliation: i+112+i

Modern pencil foliation upper-right corners, rectos


Formula: Undetermined; mainly individual leaves, hook-guarded or tipped out of order; tight binding restricts the view

Catchwords: Catchwords cropped at the bottom, written at lower right on fols. 19v, 48v, 67v, 72v, 93v, and 105v



6.7 cm wide by 10.2 cm high

Written surface

4.7 cm wide by 5.0 cm high

  1. Columns: 1
  2. Ruled lines: 10
  3. Ruled in lead

fols. 1r - 112r:
  1. Title: Book of Hours
  2. Incipit: Domine Dominus Noster
  3. Contents: Incomplete; calendar is missing; all sections misbound
  4. Hand note: Text in well-formed textura formata, with major medial pauses marked by punctus elevatus, and final pauses by punctus or unmarked
  5. Decoration note: Illuminated initials in gold on blue or pink ground (2 lines) for major divisions; secondary divisions (1 line); either lower or top margins of each folio depicts drolleries with fanciful animals, hybrids, humans; overtly religious imagery is rare (for example the Holy Face on fol. 64v); initials on fols. 62r, 67v, 76v, and 79r contain heads; line fillers with geometric motifs or beast head in blue and pink on gold ground; rubrics in red; text in dark brown ink
fols. 1r - 80v:
  1. Title: Hours of the Virgin
  2. Contents: Use unidentifiable; text incomplete and misbound; content reconstructed by Judith Oliver as follows: fols. 2-4, 1, 28, and 71: Matins; fols. 38-40: Lauds; fol. 5: Prime (?); fols. 8, 7, 10, and 29r-v: Terce, , ending with rubric for Sext; fols. 25, and 33: None; fols. 52, 58, 53-56: Vespers; fols. 75-79, 80r-v: Compline
  3. Hand note: Drolleries throughout; initials in gold, pink and blue for divisions of the text
fols. 87r - 112r:
  1. Title: Office of the Dead
  2. Contents: Fols. 81r-83r: Psalm 6; fols. 83v, 86r-v: Psalm 12; fols. 84r-v: Psalm 66; fols. 85r-v: Psalm 149; fols. 87r-88v: Lesson 1; fols. 88v-90r: Lesson 2; fols. 90r-98r: Lesson 3; fols. 98r-v: Lesson 4; gap after fol. 98v; fols. 99r-v: end of Lesson 5; fols. 99v-112r: Lesson 6
  3. Decoration note: Drolleries throughout; initials in gold, pink and blue for divisions of the text
fols. 112v - 112v:
  1. Title: Communion Prayer
  2. Contents: Early addition: communion prayer, French translation of "Dominus non sum dignus"
  3. Hand note: Textura formata


fol. 64v:

  1. W.87, fol. 64v
  2. Title: Image of the Holy Face
  3. Form: Marginalia
  4. Text: Hours of the Virgin

fol. 65r:

  1. W.87, fol. 65r
  2. Title: Pelican wounding chest to feed young with her blood
  3. Form: Marginalia
  4. Text: Hours of the Virgin


The binding is not original.

Sixteenth-century brown calf binding; rebacked in the nineteenth-twentieth century by Léon Gruel; front and back boards are stamped with framing fillets; two vertical bands at the center are inhabited by six animals within vine spirals; on front and back boards an inscription around the central panels writes "DEUS DET / NOBIS SUA[M] PACE[M] ET / POST MORTE[M] / VITA[M] ETERNA[M] AMEN," spine rounded and backed; yellow formerly on the edges has been scraped; a comparable binding layout with inscription and panels with pairs of animals is signed by the Flemish binder Iohannes Bosscaert on a book printed in 1526 (Weale 1894, no. 416)


Created ca. 1310-20, likely in Ghent

Léon Gruel, Paris, nineteenth-twentieth century; his bookplate engraved G E (Gruel and Engelmann) front pastedown inscribed "no. 1019"

Henry Walters, Baltimore, purchased from Gruel between 1895 and 1931; ex libris on front flyleaf recto


Walters Art Museum, 1931, by Henry Walters' bequest


Weale, William H. J. Bookbindings and Rubbings of Bindings in the National Art Library South Kensington Museum. Vol. 2. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1894; pp. 194-5, cat. no. 416 **see for binding comparison

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. 783, cat. no. 161.

Randall, Lilian M. C. Images in the Margins of Gothic Manuscripts. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1966; p. 38, figs. 107, 436.

Randall, Lilian M. C. Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Walters Art Gallery. Vol. 3, Belgium, 1250-1530. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press in association with the Walters Art Gallery, 1997; pp. 72-74, cat. no. 224.

Manion, Margaret M. The Felton Illuminated Manuscripts in the National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne, Australia: Macmillan Art Publishing and the National Gallery of Victoria, 2005; p. 375 (n. 22).

Dillon, Emma. "Representing Obscene Sound." In Medieval Obscenities, edited by Nicola McDonald, 55-84. Woodbridge, Suffolk: York Medieval Press, 2006; p. 75.

Wirth, Jean, and Isabelle Engammare. Les marges à drôleries des manuscrits gothiques, 1250-1350. Geneva: Librairie Droz, 2008; 234.


Principal cataloger: Randall, Lilian M.C.

Cataloger: Valle, Chiara

Editor: Herbert, Lynley

Copy editor: Dibble, Charles

Conservators: Owen, Linda; Quandt, Abigail

Contributors: Emery, Doug; Noel, William; Schuele, Allyson; Tabritha, Ariel; Toth, Michael B.; 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.