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Visual Translations – The Materiality and Mediality of Black Books of Hours

Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.493 (Black Book of Hours), Annunciation,  fols. 29v–30r, Bruges, ca. 1480, 170 x 122 mm.

Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M.493 (Black Book of Hours), Annunciation, fols. 29v–30r, Bruges, ca. 1480, 170 x 122 mm.
Image Credit: Pierpont Morgan Library

Marie Hartmann, RA 2: "Travelling Matters"
Associated Research Project (prae-doc)

Seven manuscripts known as the 'black books of hours' were created in the late fifteenth century for members of the Burgundian court. Their deeply dyed parchment inscribed with silver or golden ink make these examples an innovative variation of the then widely-used illuminated books of hours.

The objective of this research project is to examine how the special material and medial features of the black codices influenced their production, handling and reception. This question will be discussed with regard to both individual components of the manuscripts and their double function as religious and luxury items. Coupled with intermedial references to other objects of similar aesthetic practices from the same production environment, these insights will contribute to a more comprehensive cultural-historical classification of the corpus. Hence, this PhD project aims to address current debates on late-medieval reading and writing practices, the religious function of a script materiality, and the visual translations of established colour patterns into an inversed palette.