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A small exhibition of illuminated medieval prayer books, called Books of Hours, culminates the fall 2003 course “The Beautiful Book: Medieval and Renaissance Book Illumination in France and Italy,” (ARTH 253) taught by Professor of Art Lilian Armstrong. The course surveys European illuminated manuscripts from the Late Antique period through the Renaissance, and addresses such topics as the making of the books, the relation of text to images and decoration, aristocratic and religious patronage of illuminators, and the illustration of the earliest printed books with woodcuts.
The Special Collections of Margaret Clapp Library and the Davis Museum and Cultural Center both possess beautiful late medieval illuminated manuscripts, including a number of remarkable Books of Hours. Students in the course study these original manuscripts in several class sessions, determining which aspects of the books to highlight in the exhibition. They then prepare interpretive labels for the pages chosen for presentation, and participate in various aspects of the exhibition installation.