Catalog Archive
Auction 102, Lot 563

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1480 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


4.9 x 6.7 inches
12.4 x 17 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 remarkable leaf from a Book of Hours written in Dutch. Most medieval books were written in Latin, the language of the Church. Geert Groote, the father of the Devotio Moderna, the Broederschap des Gemenen Levens, as his movement was called in Dutch, was a great advocate of the vernacular in religious books. This leaf has the beginning of the Hours of the Virgin (Hier begint die vrouwe ghetide…). The decorations on the recto are remarkable as well and painted in a very unusual style with acanthus leaves, flowers and three birds including a peacock. The large initial "H" has a striking design illuminated with burnished gold leaf. The verso is undecorated.


Condition: A

Light soil along one edge.

Estimate: $600 - $700

Sold for: $450

Closed on 3/5/2003