Auction 104, Lot 674

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1450 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


3.8 x 5.6 inches
9.7 x 14.2 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 beautiful leaf from a Book of Hours written in France in the 1400’s. It is part of the Hours of the Virgin, None, Psalm 125 and part of 126. The text is written in a batarde bookhand, in black and red. The 12 initials are decorated with gold leaf and along the margin on the recto is a staff with bunches of flowers at the top and bottom. On the verso is a full panel of many flowers and leaves in different colors. Psalm [125]: When our Lord turned the captivity of Zion: we were made as men comforted. Then was our mouth replenished with joy: and our tongue with joyfulness. Then shall they say among the gentiles hath done great things for them. Our Lord hath done great things for us: we are made joyful. Turn our captivity, O Lord: as a brook in the south. They that sow in tears: shall reap in joyfulness. Going they went, and wept: casting their seeds. But coming they shall come with joy carrying their sheaves. Glory [be to the Father]. Psalm [126]: Unless our Lord build the house: they have labored in vain, that built it. Unless our Lord shall keep the city: he watcheth in vain, that keepeth it. It is in vain… [for you to rise before light: rise ye, after ye have sat, who eat the bread of sorrow].


Condition: A

Minor soil in margins.

Estimate: $250 - $300

Sold for: $160

Closed on 9/10/2003