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French Book of Hours, or prayer book, late 15th century15th Century

Popular from the late 13th to mid-16th century, a Book of Hours is a decorated book of prayers. No two are exactly alike, but most contain a set of prayers called the ‘Hours of the Virgin’ — the basis for the term Book of Hours. Many were beautifully illustrated with painted miniatures, decorated initials and floral borders. They could include comic figures — known as ‘grotesques’ or ‘drolleries’ — which combine elements from human and animal forms. The illustration illuminated with gold leaf depicts David and Goliath from the penitential psalms. Grotesques on the page include a curious ‘snail man’ doffing his cap to the reader.