"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1460 (circa)
2.1 x 3 inches
5.3 x 7.6 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.
This diminutive vellum leaf is from an Italian Book of Hours written in Naples. The book was so small that it must have been the property of a lady who carried it in her purse. There is one large initial in gold with beautiful blue and red pen work extending into the margin. The text is in a regular gothic book hand in brown ink with the rubrics in red.
The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, Matins, the most important part of every Book of Hours.
Tiny worm hole in bottom margin.