Catalog Archive
Auction 101, Lot 539

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Incunabula

Period: 1490 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


5 x 8 inches
12.7 x 20.3 cm

The word incunabula derives from the Latin cuna (cradle), and is used to denote books printed during the infancy of printing in the latter half of the 15th century. The earliest printers were trained in the manuscript tradition and incorporated the conventions of historiated initials and illustrations into their early work. At first they left those spaces blank for the illuminator to complete entirely by hand. Later they developed printing methods (using woodcuts or iron engravings) to decorate the leaves.

This vellum leaf is an early example of the incunabula period. The text is printed and all the decorations and initials are finely hand-painted. There are more than thirty initials and line fillers and the margins are beautifully painted with panels of acanthus leaves and flowers in red, mauve, blue, green and gold. The text is from the hours of the Virgin, None (Psalms 125, 126 and 127), which was to be sung and prayed every afternoon.


Condition: A

Rector is fine, verso has some slight smudging and wear on the gold leaf.

Estimate: $220 - $275

Sold for: $160

Closed on 12/4/2002