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A penitent prayer, by Hermann Scheere, in a Book of offices

A penitent prayer, by Hermann Scheere, in a Book of offices

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1405

Shelfmark: Additional MS 16998

Item number: f.67r

Length: 147

Width: 227

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A book of offices (special prayers for each day) and other prayers, this book was illuminated by the painter Hermann Scheere. Scheere may have been German, but his style suggests that his artistic background was Flemish. Certain features of its decoration reveal his continental background and suggest that he decorated this book soon after arriving in England. It presents several unique or early examples of subject matter and text. Provided with a calendar, it includes prayers for feast days and ones special to certain saints. The miniature depicts a man in a flowing green robe lined with white, who kneels in prayer. The various mottoes inscribed in gold on the background have not been helpful in identifying the man. While it has been suggested that the figure represents the patron for whom the book was made, this has been rejected because the kind of confessional prayer presented on this page was often introduced by a generalised praying figure. The mottoes, then, could relate to the workshop of Hermann Scheere instead of the patron. In the upper right corner, the flaming face of the suffering Christ has a role in the penitent nature of the prayer. The reader would identify with such an image to aid penance for sins.

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