Catalog Archive
Auction 103, Lot 583

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1440 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


2.6 x 3.6 inches
6.6 x 9.1 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 very tiny leaf from a Book of Hours, written on vellum in Bruges [Flanders]. The text is in regular Gothic bookhand with a beautiful initial "O" in red, blue, white and gold leaf. Next to the text is a staff in the same colors with leaves sprouting from top and bottom. The text contains one of the best-known prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary [Oratio devota…..] This prayer is among the most moving of all prayers in the Book and encapsulates the essence of late medieval spirituality.


Condition: A

Estimate: $250 - $300

Sold for: $180

Closed on 6/11/2003