"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1450 (circa)
Publication: Book of Hours
5.5 x 7.7 inches
14 x 19.6 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 superb vellum leaf with both sides finely decorated with flowers and leaves in gold leaf and bright colors and many initials and line-fillers in red, blue and gold. The text is from the Office of the Dead, Matins.
Partial translation beginning on the recto with the first large initial :
The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing.
He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment:
He hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name's sake.
For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.
Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly is it.
And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.
To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul.
In thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed.
Neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on thee shall be confounded.
Let all them be confounded that act unjust things without cause. Shew, O Lord, thy ways to me, and teach me thy paths.