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Abstract

This essay analyzes a group of prefatory pictures and texts in the English Butler Hours (Baltimore, Walters Art Museum MS W. 105), a richly illuminated, now fragmentary manuscript originally made c. 1340-50 for the Butler family of Wem and Oversley, Shropshire. Focusing first on the Tree of Vices, this essay elucidates that picture's apparent breadth of pictorial reference and offers the first transcriptions and translations of some of the Anglo-Norman French moralizing couplets that enrich its visual program. The essay then widens its focus, examining the visual-verbal "operations" of the Tree of Vices, its semantic relationships with other pictures and texts in the preface, including miniatures of the Crucifixion, Holy Face, Tree of Life, and Butler family at Mass, as well as the remnants of the Office of the Holy Face. This group of pictures and texts are shown to function as an intricately interconnected, deftly personalized devotional tool and vehicle for penitent self-scrutiny.

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