In this video, we view examples of extraordinarily beautiful ‘books of hours’ from the Rosenberg Collection.
The book of hours was a Christian devotional book, popular in the Middle Ages, and the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript. It typically contained collections of texts, prayers and psalms, often with appropriate decorations, for Christian devotion.
Illumination or decoration could often be minimal in such manuscripts, restricted to decorated capital letters at the start of psalms and other prayers. However, as seen in the video, given their function as a kind of ‘status symbol’, books made for wealthy patrons could equally be extremely lavish.
Over the course of 30 years, Elaine and Alexandre Rosenberg assembled one of the finest collections of illuminated manuscripts and early printed books in the world. For this reason, academics and scholars could regularly be found in the library of the couple’s Upper East Side townhouse in Manhattan.
In fact, the Rosenbergs collected with a great devotion to the pursuit. According to their daughters, Elisabeth Clark and Marianne Rosenberg, they “perhaps even found a soulmate” in their books, and continued collecting until Alexandre’s death in 1987. Following his passing, although she never added to it, Elaine took great care in preserving the Collection until her own demise, aged 98, in 2020.
View the original video here.
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