The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is presenting, for the first time, remarkable Books of Hours conserved in seven Quebec collections. The result of extensive research, the exhibition Resplendent Illuminations is a unique opportunity to admire some fifty works primarily from illuminated manuscripts – in this priceless legacy of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe.
Books of Hours were works of private devotion that first appeared in the thirteenth century. They were the most popular prayer books made for the laity and were used as primers for learning to read. Often given as wedding gifts, they were “bestsellers” until the sixteenth century. Over time, they evolved in a variety of ways both textually and iconographically, adapting to the regional differences in devotions, languages and artistic styles of European Christianity.
The 59 artefacts presented at this exhibit for the first time belong to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, McGill University, the arts library of the Université du Québec à Montréal, the Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice, the Archives of the Jesuits in Canada, to Concordia University and the Musée de l’Amérique francophone in Quebec City.