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Leaf from a Book of Hours: Men Playing Tennis
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Leaf from a Book of Hours: Men Playing Tennis

Description Provenance Credit
Description This small Book of Hours, made for use in the diocese of Cambrai ca. 1300-10, is especially interesting for its profusion of humorous drolleries. Humans, animals, and hybrids are featured in the margins of each page of the book. Small scenes record a variety of activities, such as cooking, playing games, climbing, fishing, making music, and dancing. Two of these scenes may depict the earliest known images of tennis being played. These drolleries amused the faithful during their prayers, while showing scenes that work as metaphors for the soul fighting the vices. The original female owner seems to have been established in the diocese of Cambrai, judging from clues in the text in the Office of the Dead. A number of signatures on the leaves at the beginning and end of the manuscript provide the book with a rich provenance. A priest in the sixteenth century wrote a message in code on fol. 1v asking that the book be returned to him if lost. Members of the ducal house of Savoy owned this book in the seventeenth century, as evinced by the gilt armorial shield of Charles Emmanuel II (1634-75), duke of Savoy, stamped on the covers.
Provenance Acquired by Phillippe Boudard, Savoy, France, 1543 [1]. Jehan Cedati, Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Grenoble, France, 16th century [2]. A member of the ducal house of Savoy, 17th century [3]. Léon Gruel, Paris, late 19th-early 20th century [4]; purchased by Henry Walters, Baltimore, early 20th century (?); by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 1931. [1] Inscription on fols. 1v and 3r: Johannes boudardus canonicus regularis sancti Petri Tarentasiensis Iohan(?) philippe boudard. Name is repeated on fols. 197-202r and signed and dated on fol. 201r [2] Inscription with his request to return the book if lost written in code assigning the numbers 1 to 5 to the vowels a to u on fols. 1v-2r: "Ces presentes heures sont a messir Jehan Cedati prestre de noustre Dame de Grenoble et qui les trouvea leu rende" [3] Cross of Savoy in shield on fol. 198r; armorial shield of Charles Emmanuel II, duke of Savoy, 1634-75, on binding [4] No. 1300 on front pastedown
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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1st quarter 14th century (Gothic)
ink and paint on parchment
(Manuscripts & Rare Books)
Accession Number
Folio H: 4 1/4 × W: 2 15/16 in. (10.8 × 7.4 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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