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Painted Prayers: The Book of Hours in Medieval and Renaissance Art Paperback – October, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: George Braziller (October 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807614572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807614570
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #892,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If this sparkling book contained only its crystalline reproductions of illuminated manuscripts, it would satisfy most lovers of these charming miniatures. But Roger S. Wieck, curator of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City, is the most entertaining of authors. His enthusiasm for what he dubs "the Medieval best-seller" is thoroughly infectious. "Books of Hours linked church and home," he writes. "The entire celestial court, God and his cosmos, could be held within the palms of one's hands." Wieck has turned his scholarly, historical material into a page-turner. Given the hypnotic beauty of the manuscripts themselves, with all their flayings, blessings, betrayals, and epiphanies, Painted Prayers should be a bestseller in its own right. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Notes Wieck (curator of medieval manuscripts at the Pierpont Morgan Library), ``The Book of Hours was the bestseller of the late middle ages.'' Heavily, often gorgeously, illustrated prayer books commissioned by the wealthy, they got their name because they contain a sequence of 37 prayers to the Mother of God intended to be recited throughout the course of the day. From the Morgan Library collections Wieck has drawn some 100 examples, reproduced in color. Much of the work is stunning, including a straightforward portrait of a meditative Christ, and a 1440 painting of a Bosch- like Mouth of Hell. The miniaturists who provided paintings for the books also decorated borders and even filled entire pages with abstract designs as well as with the tiny, precise figures of devils, angels, sinners, and saints. They also relied on their own world for inspiration for backgrounds, providing some wonderful views of medieval peasants and landscapes, castles and churches. Wieck provides a deft survey of the subject, and the illustrations, still fresh after six centuries, glowing with color and a fervent sense of faith, offer a unique glimpse of another time. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on September 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While this book contains chapters of material e.g. introduction, calendar, Gospel Lessons, Hours of the Virgin, Pentitential Psalms etc., the core of the book is the descriptions of the illustrations themselves. These description provide a variety of information - bits of biography of the artist, history of the manuscript (confirmed and confirmed), information regarding the style, the imagery etc. The "chapter" material provides samples of the texts, the development of the specific portion of the Book of Hours, etc. This provides the overall context for the materials.
The indices provide access by manuscript, artist, early owners; an appendex provides the outline of the major offices by incipit (first phrase) to place individual illustrations in the overall context of the prayer hour.
Don't be intimidated - the text is easily followed but one unfamilar with the prayer book content or with illuminated manuscripts. But you can also enjoy the book simply going through the pictures - like a stroll through a museum without a docent or tape.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Julie Dietz on August 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
This well-organized survey of the Book of Hours in Medieval and Renaissance art takes the reader through the various parts of the book of hours illustrating both the historical and artistic development from the earliest manuscript examples to incunabula. Lavishly illustrated with examples taken only from the Pierpont Morgan Library, where Wieck is a curator, the book is also a mini catalog of that collection. While the "reader" could fully enjoy this book by simply looking at the pictures, Wieck's text is full of illuminating tidbits. The book also contains some detailed descriptions of medieval liturgy and religious practices that may be of interest to some readers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Galen K. Valentine on January 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Pierpont Morgan Library's collection of manuscripts and printed works contains some truly beautiful works of art. I was privileged to see some of them at an exhibit in the Kimbell Art Museum. This book was offered as a catalog of the exhibit and I immediately bought it as a reminder of what I had seen. The illustrations in this book, though not quite as visually stunning, are nevertheless representative of the originals. Bibliographic information is rather sparse but the further reading section is nice.
Painted Prayers gives both the structure of the book itself and the reason behind its popularity during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It was the laity in general, and more specifically the female laity, that owned these works as a kind of, "direct, democratic, and potentially uninterrupted access to God, the Virgin Mary, and the saints." (p.14). It is fascinating to see the incorporation of Christian, and sometimes pagan, symbols and iconography, and even humor, in the miniatures and marginalia of the Books of Hours. The miniatures often depicted biblical, or historical, scenes in modern settings and dress. Patrons would often have their portraits, coats of arms, monograms, or intials incoprorated into the Books of Hours that they had commissioned. With the advent of printing in the 15th century Books of Hours, with their pictures, became even more successful as they could now reach out to a wider audience.
If you ever have the opportunity to see an exhibit featuring Books of Hours I recommend you see it. Failing that, Painted Prayers is a good stand in.
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Format: Paperback
While this is a beautifully photographed and carefully documented volume, it is more a showpiece of the Morgan Library's holdings in the area of Books of Hours, the most artistically significant type of Medieval Manuscript. The Morgan has always been the greatest New World collection of this type of art, and it was put together without Papal or Royal patronage. (though JP probably could financially beat out most monarchs!)This book, expertly elaborated by Roger Wieck, does great honor to two very honorable institutions, the bestseller of the Middle Ages and the greatest American repository of these treasures. Sorry, Your Lordship!
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