In medieval times the illumination of hand-written books reached its peak. Artists used egg tempera to decorate initials and to paint illustrations. Only the wealthiest could afford such books.
A book of hours is a handwritten book used by laymen in the Middle Ages to look up which prayer to say at what time.
The first were created in the 13th century. In some cases artists were hired to illuminate them. The illustrations were used to provide structure to the book, to teach the reader but also to beautify the book.
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