Description Music and dancing were important social rituals during the medieval era and provided opportunities for men and women to mingle. Here, a man plays a stringed instrument, probably a vielle (an early form of the fiddle), while a woman across the page (folio 20v) looks up at him and dances. She smiles, throwing her hip out in a flirtatious way, and the musician smiles back. Their courtship unfolds across the two pages, leaving a poor monk awkwardly in the middle of this secular serenade. This small but richly illuminated Book of Hours was made ca. 1300-10 for the Use of Liège. The manuscript was created for a woman, likely a Beguine living in Huy, and inscriptions indicate it continued to be used in that region by another family into the seventeenth century. The number and variety of illuminations in the manuscript are remarkable given its small size, for it contains fourteen extant full-page miniatures, twenty-four calendar images, eleven extant large historiated initials, 188 small historiated initials, and countless marginal drolleries. Although an early rebinding resulted in the loss or rearrangement of several folios, this manuscript remains a fine example of the richness and intimacy of a Book of Hours from this period.
Leaf from Book of Hours: Matins Lesson 5, Initial V with Haloed Monk with Rod and a Man Playing a Vielle in the Margin
- Checkmate! Medieval People at Play. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2010.
Provenance Acquired by the Figinne family, Huy, Belgium, likey before 1400 . Acquired by Léon Gruel and Robert Engelmann Collection, Paris, late 19th or early 20th century ; purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore, after 1905; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931.  fols. 1v and 2r list Figinne family members with death dates spanning 1410-1604  GE bookplate inscribed "No. 390" formerly on the front flyleaf
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, after 1905
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