Catalog Archive
Auction 102, Lot 557

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1450 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


5.2 x 7.2 inches
13.2 x 18.3 cm

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 beautiful vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours. The recto margin is finely decorated with a vine tendril emanating from the splendid initial "C", which is infilled with flowers and burnished gold leaf. The other initials, on both sides, are decorated in delicate red and blue penwork with some gold leaf. At the bottom of the verso are the words "Ad completoriu[m]," which is the first word of the next page and a sign for the binder (it is called a catchword). The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, Vespers. Following is a translation, beginning with the large initial "C": O Lord God, we beseech thee, grant us thy servants, to enjoy perpetual health of mind, and body: and by the glorious intercession of the Blessed Mary ever virgin, to be delivered from this present sorrow, and to enjoy gladness everlasting.


Condition: B

A few spots of light foxing, else very good.

Estimate: $550 - $650

Sold for: $350

Closed on 3/5/2003