"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1470 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.5 x 6 inches
11.4 x 15.2 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.
This buttery vellum leaf is from a French Book of Hours, written in or near Rouen. The leaf is embellished with one large and two small initials and two line fillers in red and blue ink and burnished gold. The verso also includes a decorative panel with leaves and flowers. The text is from the Office of the Dead, the psalms and prayers for relatives and friends who were suffering in purgatory. Beginning with the large initial, the text translates as:
A hymn becomes you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall a vow be repaid in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer;
to you shall all flesh come.