Auction 107, Lot 612

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1450 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

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.

Fabulous vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours, heavily illuminated in burnished gold leaf. Each line (30 in total) begins with a superb initial painted in red, blue, white and gold leaf and nearly every line includes a decorative line filler as well. The margins are filled with a delicate panel of vines, flowers, leaves and fruit. The text is from the Litany of many Saints. The text begins with Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison [Lord, Christ, have mercy], followed by a list of saints, starting with the Virgin, followed by archangels, angels, John the Baptist, the apostles, male martyrs, confessors, female virgin martyrs and widows. These ranked categories reflect the hierarchy not only of heaven but also of medieval society. The Litany continues with a series of petitions.


Condition: A

Minor smudges on recto.

Estimate: $350 - $400

Sold for: $275

Closed on 6/9/2004