Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sir Thomas More in Basel

"... Professor Duffy's beguiling interpretation of Holbein's famous drawing of Sir Thomas More and his family in 1527, now in the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung in Basel. All ten people present in the picture are shown holding books. This is often interpreted as being symbolic of a humanistic household, but Duffy suggests, credibly, that the family are at prayer and all are holding copies of exactly the same book, doubtless identical printed Books of Hours, so that all are praying together from the same text at once." (Christopher de Hamel, "The One and Only Book," New York Review of Books, Feb. 15, 2007, review of Eamon Duffy, Marking the Hours: English People and their Prayers, 1240-1570)

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