Catalog Archive
Auction 125, Lot 886

"[Book of Hours Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1375 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

3.5 x 4.8 inches
8.9 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.

Vellum leaf from an early French Book of Hours with decoration typical of the scriptoria of northern France in the second half of the 14th century. There are a number of large initials in red, blue, white and burnished gold. The marginal decoration on the verso includes a small dragon biting its own foot. The text is from the Hours of the Holy Spirit. A partial translation of the prayer is: Thou, O Lord, wilt open my lips and my mouth shall declare thy praise. Incline unto my aid, O God. O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father as it was. Come, O Holy Ghost, replenish the hearts of thy faithful: and kindle in them the fire of thy love.


Condition: B

Some damp stains and smudging of the ink.

Estimate: $400 - $450


Closed on 9/24/2008