Catalog Archive
Auction 106, Lot 609

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1470 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours

Color: Hand Color

4.2 x 6.4 inches
10.7 x 16.3 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 wonderfully decorated vellum leaf from Renaissance France, probably in the region of Tours. The text is written in a fine brown ink with initials and line fillers in splendid gold and red. Each side is embellished with a panel of acanthus leaves and flowers. The text is a famous song about the Virgin Mary, as the Star of the Sea - Stella Maris. Many churches and sailors' homes in sea ports are named after her.
A translation beginning with the 4th line from the bottom of the recto is: All hail, star of the sea, God’s mother clear and bright. The happy gate of bliss, And still in virgin’s plight. Receiving that all hail, Which Gabriel’s mouth did give, Establish us in peace, Changing the name of Eve. The guilty’s bands unbind, Blind men their sight assure: Ill things from us expel, All good for us procure. A mother show thyself, He take our plaints by thee, That being for us born, Vouchsafe thy son to be. O rarest virgin pure…


Condition: A

Remnants of hinge tape at top.

Estimate: $350 - $400

Sold for: $250

Closed on 3/3/2004