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Jesus Before Annas, in the Salvin Hours

Jesus Before Annas, in the Salvin Hours

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1275

Shelfmark: Additional MS 48985

Item number: f.7r

Length: 32

Width: 20.6

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Named for its 17th- to early 20th-century owners, the Salvin Hours is one of the largest and most richly decorated English books of hours. Its decoration, created by two artists, resembles contemporary wall paintings in the Oxford area, suggesting that it was made in a workshop there. Its original owner probably was a high-status person living in Lincoln because it also resembles 13th-century books of hours associated with that city. It lacks a calendar, which would have helped to locate its original place of use because it would have listed saints' feasts special to a particular place. The Hours of the Virgin was borrowed from the prayerbook used by monks to become the core of the Book of Hours.The devout lay person recited the prayers and hymns of lauds at daybreak. The Salvin Hours introduces the hour with the first letter showing Christ before the priest Annas. Caricatures of the priests and Annas sensationalise their contrast with Jesus. Hideous, richly dressed Annas holds a huge sword symbolising Old Testament Law while the dully clad, barefoot Jesus holds a book (the gospels?) with covered hand, to evoke the image of a true priest. Such pictures occur in surviving 13th-century books of hours, before the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290. In the border, a monkey plays a harp.

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