Johannete Ravenelle's Book of Hours

Manuscript on parchment, XII + 193 leaves, 15 x 11 cm. France, ca 1400 AD. Purchased for the University Library in 1953.
The manuscript has shelfmark: C 517e

A book of hours, in Latin "liber horarum", was a personal prayer book used in the Roman Catholic Church. It provided a calender and a memory aid for the prayers to be said. Many books of hours were richly and elaborately decorated.

This manuscript, C 517e, is a beautifully illuminated book of hours made for a French lady, Johannete Ravenelle, around the year 1400. The book is embellished with richly adorned miniatures and initials in gouache and goldleaf. The miniatures are surrounded by a narrow frame of gold and measure about 6 x 5 cm. Tendrils of vines and ivy wrap themselves around the frame.

The illustration of the birth of Jesus is typical of traditional illustrations from the Middle Ages. The Virgin Mary in a blue robe is resting on a bed. Beside her is baby Jesus in swaddling clothes in his crib and to the right is the ageing Joseph watching over his family. An ox and a donkey stand at either side of the crib.

Further reading

  • Lindqvist Sandgren, Eva, The book of hours of Johannete Ravenelle and the Parisian book illumination around 1400, Uppsala 2002.


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