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The Descent from the Cross
Leaf from a manuscript Book of Hours in Latin




The Descent from the Cross
Leaf from a manuscript Book of Hours in Latin


About 1375


Tempera, gold leaf and ink on parchment


12.9 x 8.8 cm


F. Cleveland Morgan Bequest, inv. 1962.1356


Western Art

This leaf, like that of the Woman Reading in a Studiolo, also on display here, comes from the same Italian Book of Hours. Its restoration by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts revealed another miniature on the verso, with a rubric indicating the liturgical hour of Vespers.

The rediscovered miniature of the Descent from the Cross is of superb quality: the luminous palette, the areas of vivid colour — such as the blue mantles of the female figures — and the liberal use of burnished gold give an almost Byzantine splendour to this tragic scene.

The Harrowing of Hell, on the recto, is not a common subject for a Book of Hours. According to the legend, between his burial and his resurrection, Christ descended into Limbo to release Adam and Eve, and then the patriarchs.

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