Auction 135, Lot 758

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1570 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

4.4 x 6.4 inches
11.2 x 16.3 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 vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours is a fine example of the Northern Renaissance style. The scribe used dark brown ink and wrote in a fine rounded roman hand. Each verse begins with a decorative initial, alternating in red and blue with the letter painted in gold. There are 8 line fillers in different colors and shapes and the text is framed in a gold line. The text is from the Seven Penitential Psalms, Psalm 50 [KJV Psalm 51]. These psalms were recited to ask for forgiveness for the dead. Like the Office of the Dead, the psalms were thought especially efficacious in reducing the time the departed had to spend in purgatory. For the living, they were recited as a means of avoiding deadly or mortal sins in the first place.


Condition: A+

Estimate: $140 - $200

Sold for: $100

Closed on 2/16/2011