University of Illinois at Chicago
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Iconographic Schemes of the Center and the Margins of a Fifteenth Century Rouen Book of Hours

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posted on 2014-04-15, 00:00 authored by Jessica L. Warchall
This thesis examines the relationship between the central, religious images and the marginal, secularized images contained in fifteenth century books of hours from Northern France. The central object in this study is a book of hours, use of Rouen, currently in the collection of the Newberry Library, Chicago (Newberry MS 43). Previously unattributed to a particular workshop, I place the manuscript within the workshop of the Échevinage Master, which was producing the majority of the books of hours in Rouen during the latter half of the fifteenth century. The central thesis suggests that two iconographic schemes can exist within one book of hours, each distinct yet reliant on each other for continued existence. The primarily secular illuminations located in the manuscript margins maintain a popular audience and direct it to the pious center of the page. Additionally, open trade between France and England and increasing piety after the Hundred Years War enabled workshops to produce standardized iconography in books of hours. Not only did the central religious images hold a standard iconography, but in Rouen books of hours circa 1470, a standardized marginal iconography appeared as well, unlike the marginal schemes of earlier centuries. These near mass-produced books of hours became available to a less wealthy population, a population of the same class as the illuminator, thus indicating that both the artist and audience were aware of the same marginal sources, such as exempla heard in sermons, mystery plays, bestiaries, and other sources of popular culture. The development of both religious and popular iconographic schemes within later fifteenth century manuscripts suggests that while pious devotion was increasing, popular culture was very much a part of daily medieval life and served to enhance religious devotion.



Grossman, Heather


Art History

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University of Illinois at Chicago

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  • Masters

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  • en

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