Book of Hours were prayer books designed for the laity, but modeled on the Divine Office, a cycle of daily devotions, prayers and readings, performed by members of religious orders and the clergy. Its central text is the Hours of the Virgin. There are eight hours (times for prayer ): Matins, Lauds. Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. During the Middle Ages, the leaves making up a Book of Hours were written by hand on expensive parchment and beautifully illuminated with jewel-like pigments and gold leaf. These illuminated manuscripts combined the collaborative efforts of an array of highly skilled craftspeople; requiring the joint labors of the parchmenter, professional scribes to write the text in Gothic script, artists to illuminate the pages with decorations, and masterful binders to complete the process.
A very fine vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours. The text is written in a very regular Gothic book hand. Both sides have illuminated initials decorated with red and blue penwork and the recto contains an elaborate initial in gold leaf with small flowers in the margin. In addition there are four very nice line fillers in red, blue and gold. The text is from the Hours of the Virgin: Ave maria gracia plena dominus tecu(m) [Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord be with you].
Small hole in blank margin and hinge tape remnant in upper margin.