Catalog Archive
Auction 142, Lot 740

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1530 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

2.5 x 4.5 inches
6.4 x 11.4 cm
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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 tiny vellum leaf is from a late French Book of Hours, almost certainly ordered by a Lady, as it would have fit perfectly in her purse! The whole text is surrounded by a golden border, with one large and three small initials in gold and black, which is rare. The text is in a very neat hand in a classic letter type using both black and red ink. The pages are numbered, which only was done in later Books of Hours. The text is from the Office of the Dead, the psalms and prayers for relatives and friends who were suffering in purgatory, the 9th lesson, Job 10:18-22. The text translates as:

Why didst thou bring me forth out of the womb? Would God I had been
consumed, that my eye might not see. I had been as if I were not, transported
from the womb to the grave. Shall not the fewness of my days be
ended shortly? Suffer me therefore that I may a little lament my sorrow,
before I go, and return not unto the land that is dark and covered with the
mist of death, a land of misery, and darkness, where the shadow of death,
and no order, but everlasting horror inhabiteth.
R: Deliver me, O Lord, from the ways of hell, which hast broken the brazen
gates, and hast visited hell, and hast given light to them, that they might
behold thee, which were in the pains of darkness.
V: Crying, and saying, thou art come, O our Redeemer.
R: Which were in the pains of darkness.
V: Eternal rest.
R: Which were in the pains of darkness.


Condition: A+

Estimate: $200 - $240


Closed on 11/28/2012