"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1460 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.8 x 6.5 inches
12.2 x 16.5 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.
A very pretty leaf from a Parisian Book of Hours, written on a fine sheet of buttery, white vellum in black ink. Both sides of the leaf are decorated with initials and line fillers illuminated in red, blue, white and burnished gold leaf, as well as decorative panels painted with gold leaves on hairline stems with colorful flowers and fruits. There are also five line fillers, one of which is a flower. The text, beginning on recto at top is part of the famous Magnificat [St. Luke 1]:
[Magnificat anima mea Dominum,]
et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo,
quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae.
Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
[My soul doth magnify the Lord.]
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.