Catalog Archive
Auction 102, Lot 562

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1470 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


3 x 3.7 inches
7.6 x 9.4 cm
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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 vellum leaf from a very small Book of Hours, written in Bruges, Flanders. Most books were made to order by either the scribes in a monastery or by lay scribes, who worked for booksellers. To make a book very small only the thinnest vellum was used: often made of the skin of unborn lambs. This book would have been made for a lady, as it is very tiny. The verso is decorated with a very delicate initial "C" with a small bouquet of flowers extending into the margin. The recto includes seven initials painted in red, blue, white and burnished gold leaf. The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, Vespers, which was to be read at the beginning of the evening. Following is a translation, beginning with the 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: A+

Estimate: $140 - $180

Sold for: $170

Closed on 3/5/2003