book of hours

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book of hours,

form of prayer book developed in the 14th cent. from the prayers of clerics appended to the main service. The subjects of the miniature illustrations (see miniature paintingminiature painting
[Ital.,=artwork, especially manuscript initial letters, done with the red lead pigment minium; the word originally had no implication as to size].
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) were frequently derived from the appendix of the Psalter. The book of hours served as a devotional work containing various prayers and meditations appropriate to seasons, months, days of the week, and hours of the day. Many such books are masterpieces of illuminationillumination,
in art, decoration of manuscripts and books with colored, gilded pictures, often referred to as miniatures (see miniature painting); historiated and decorated initials; and ornamental border designs.
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 and were symbols of refinement and wealth in fashionable houses of the 15th cent. Jean, duc de Berry, was among the most renowned collectors of books of hours, and his Très Riches Heures (Musée Condé, Chantilly), illustrated in part by the Limbourg brothersLimbourg brothers
, fl. 1380–1416, family of Franco-Flemish manuscript illuminators. The Limbourg brothers, Pol, Jan, and Herman, were trained as goldsmiths. They succeeded Jacquemart de Hesdin in 1411 as court painters to Jean, duc de Berry.
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 (c.1415), is among the greatest achievements in this genre.