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[Book of Hours Leaf with Floral Border]

circa 1400-1500
Manuscript Collection, Vanderbilt University Special Collections

This decorative manuscript was written on vellum, and upon closer inspection you’ll notice the hair follicles from the animal whose stretched skin was used to make the material. Often, artists would use decoration and art to cover up mistakes in their work or to simply add value to the text itself. The ink would be scratched directly into the vellum, and so the colors had to be preserved very carefully. This piece was likely written by a monk for a Catholic Church congregation in the 14th century. The end result shows the beautiful handwriting and care put into the text itself, but also that the aesthetic of the entire page, including the floral embellishments, was considered as well.