The Pabenham-Clifford Hours

Hours of the Virgin

Texts and Images

The text of Matins, the first of the 8 Hours recited daily at the canonical times for prayer, opens with a large historiated initial D of the Virgin and Child with a full border. The patrons are depicted in the border alongside birds, animals and heraldic shields. Remaining text divisions are marked by ornamental initials.

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Detail of the Virgin’s garments under magnification (20x), showing coarse particles of red lead in the orange tunic.
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Detail of the Virgin’s blue mantle under magnification (20x), showing a glaze which has likely darkened and now appears brown.
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Detail of the gold background under magnification (7.5x). The FORS spectrum of the blue fleurs-de-lis (below) shows the characteristic absorption bands of azurite at 1495, 2206, 2283 and 2351 nm.
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Detail of the red robes of the figures riding a horse, under magnification (20x). The one on the left is painted with red lead while the one on the right is organic.
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Detail of the bird in the upper border under magnification (7.5x). The XRF spectrum (below) of the yellow detail on the wing shows the presence of arsenic (As) and sulphur (S), pointing to the use of an arsenic sulphide pigment, likely orpiment.

The three-dimensional modelling of the Virgin Mary’s garments, with their multiple folds, distinguishes this initial from the more linear treatment of other draperies in the manuscript and suggests that this image was painted by a different artist. The materials employed also set this initial apart. These include coarser pigment particles (hotspot 1), a darkened organic shading on the Virgin’s mantle (hotspot 2), flesh tones containing lead white but no gypsum, and the use of shell gold for the decoration painted over the gilded background (hotspot 3). The border contains some pigments not found in the miniature: an organic red, used to obtain a red hue (hotspot 4) and a yellow arsenic sulphide pigment used in the wing of a bird (hotspot 5).