"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1450 (circa)
Publication: Book of Hours
5.5 x 7.5 inches
14 x 19.1 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 French Book of Hours. The text is written in a regular gothic bookhand in brown/black with red rubrics. Both sides are finely illuminated with a total of 11 initials and 4 line-fillers in red, blue, white and lots of gold leaf. The margins are filled with flowers in bright colors and tendrils with gold leaves.
The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, Sext, Psalms: 122, 123 and 124.
Partial translation of beginning on the recto:
Our soul hath passed through a torrent: perhaps our soul had passed through a water insupportable.
Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us to be a prey to their teeth.
Our soul hath been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the followers. The snare is broken, and we are delivered.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwelleth
in Jerusalem. Mountains are round about it: so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth now and for ever.
For the Lord will not leave the rod of sinners upon the lot of the just: that the just may not stretch forth their hands to iniquity.
Do good, O Lord, to those that are good, and to the upright of heart.
But such as turn aside into bonds, the Lord shall lead out with the workers of iniquity: peace upon Israel.