See some of the earliest books ever made on display in Montreal

Oct 11 2018, 1:30 pm

For the first time, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is presenting a selection of rare illuminations of the earliest books ever made which date back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe.

Selected from seven Quebec collections and extensive research, the exhibition Resplendent Illuminations is a unique opportunity to see over 50 works that have remained intact since their creation from 1225 to 1583.

Of the 59 total works, Books of Hours is the exhibition’s headliner that first appeared in the thirteenth century. They were the most popular prayer books made for the laity and were used to teach people about the Christian faith.

The manuscripts feature miniature paintings that illustrated the life of Christ, the saints and the Virgin Mary. The books feature a calendar of holy and religious feasts, passages from the gospels, and prayers.

While most such collections in North America were assembled after the mid-19th century, these have been on preserve in Quebec for over 200 years, a defining part of local history.


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At the time, the Books of Hours were the only accessible books around, they became known as “primers” – the first books people used to learn to read. Because of their elaborate detailing, they also became popular wedding gifts.

The exhibition is currently open to the public and will be on display until January 6, 2019.

Resplendent Illuminations

When: From now until January 6
Time: 10 am – 5 pm
Where: 1380 rue Sherbrooke Ouest
Price: Free for ages 0-30, $15 ages 31 and older

Tyler JadahTyler Jadah

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