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The Betrayal of Christ, in a Book of Hours

The Betrayal of Christ, in a Book of Hours

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1260

Shelfmark: Egerton MS 1151

Item number: f.95v

Length: 16

Width: 10.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Early books of hours have types of pictures and decoration which tend not to appear in ones made later on, after the programme of subject matter for pictures and decoration became established. This book of hours includes unusual pictures and texts, such as the Hours of the Holy Spirit and of the Passion, which were exceptional in a prayerbook of the mid-13th century. Some of the texts were recommended in contemporary treatises for the devotions of anchoresses, suggesting that it was made originally for such a religious woman. Its calendar of saints' feasts include many that were associated with the West Midlands. The page begins 'Les hures del nun Jesu,' also known as the Office of the Passion, each of which might have been said in the midst of or after each of the Hours of the Virgin, the 'backbone' of the daily round of prayer for the laity. The first letter of matins, recited before dawn, is historiated (given an interior picture) with the Betrayal of Christ, which begins the story of the suffering leading up to the Crucifixion. In this finely painted, tiny picture, Judas kisses Jesus, who holds a staff and book and is surrounded by soldiers in secular dress holding clubs and axes. To the left Peter cuts the ear of a crouching soldier with a large sword.

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