Friday, February 12, 2016

Picture Day Friday: Thumbnail-Sized Illuminated Prayer Book

Only 35mm x 20mm, the size of a stamp, this is a Parisian prayer book from c.1520. Can you imagine this: It has writing and detailed drawings in it, some of which were drawn with brushes with a single hair. Exquisite!

The book was originally made for an English owner—it is inscribed by Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey. However, there are 16th century ownership marks in French. Sir Hans Sloane acquired it in the 18th century and it passed into the hands of the British Museum upon his death in 1753. The British Library now owns it and lodges it under the shelf-mark Sloane 116.

The binding has gold metal-work and red velvet, with clasps and the parchment folios have gilt edges. There are eight full-page miniatures, in various colors and as well as in gold. All text pages are framed in gold and the rubrics are in gold as well. This was a very expensive book in its day.

[Image copyrighted by the British Library.]