Auction 103, Lot 585

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1450 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


5.5 x 7.3 inches
14 x 18.5 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.

This vellum leaf is from a Book of Hours written in Normandy, around 1450. It was once owned by Seigneur Richard du Mesnildot, Provost Royal of Coutances, in 1489. The recto is finely illuminated with a two-line initial "H" with a bunch of flowers in the margin, executed in red, blue, white and sparkling gold leaf. The text is part of the Office of the Dead, Matins beginning with the phrase: Homo natus de mulier brevi vivens te[m] pore repletur multis miseriis (Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble)…


Condition: B

Minor spotting in margins.

Estimate: $160 - $200

Sold for: $190

Closed on 6/11/2003