Catalog Archive
Auction 104, Lot 680

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1485 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


3.7 x 5.6 inches
9.4 x 14.2 cm
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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 and rare leaf from a French Book of Hours, written in French. During the Middle Ages the Latin language was used in the Roman Catholic church and all religious books were written in that language. Only in the Netherlands was there a movement, the Devotio Moderna, to make use of the vernacular. In French Books of Hours only some parts were done in the language of the people; the prayers Quinze Joyes and Sept Requestes. This leaf has the version of Rouen and is the prayer often found at the end of the book. The fine vellum is illuminated with 7 initials and 5 line-fillers in red, blue, white and burnished gold leaf. The margins of both sides are filled with colorful flowers and leaves. Provenance: From the collection of the Edward Laurence Doheny Memorial Library, St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, California.


Condition: A+

Estimate: $275 - $350

Sold for: $200

Closed on 9/10/2003