"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1450 (circa)
Publication: Book of Hours
2.3 x 3.3 inches
5.8 x 8.4 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 diminutive and lovely leaf from an Italian Book of Hours, written on vellum in Bologna. The verso is decorated with a large initial D in many colors and gold leaf and a red initial M with purple penwork in the margin. The text is written in a fine Renaissance letter type and is from the Hours of the Virgin, Prime.
Translation beginning on the recto:
.….dispose our way, acts, and wills, and those of all thy servants in the prosperity of thy salvation: and return unto our benefactors eternal good things: and grant eternal rest to all faithful departed. Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory.
Be mindful, author of our salvation,
That thou sometime didst take on thee
Of a pure virgin being born,
The form of our humanity.
Slight abrasion of gold leaf.