Catalog Archive
Auction 123, Lot 806

"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1370 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

3.3 x 4.8 inches
8.4 x 12.2 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.

Beautifully decorated vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours, written in a regular book hand in or near Rouen. The decoration is typical of the scriptoria of northern France in the second half of the 14th century with large initials in red, blue, white and burnished gold and the decoration extending into the margin with triangular leaves in the same colors. The leaf is illuminated on both sides with numerous initials. The recto is decorated with a spectacular initial 'D' beginning the name of God, and leading outward along the margin with meticulously painted ivy.


Condition: B+

Faint marginal damp stains and a few spots, not affecting the text.

Estimate: $450 - $550

Sold for: $300

Closed on 2/20/2008