"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1300 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.1 x 5.6 inches
10.4 x 14.2 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 vellum leaf is from an early Breviary written in northern France or Flanders. The text is written in a single column (21 lines) in a clear gothic book hand in black and red ink. Each side has two large initials and a lovely left border in red and blue pen work. The text is from the gospel according to St. John, chapter 20. Beginning on the verso at top, the text reads (with many abbreviations):
Maria stabat ad monumentum foris, plorans.
Dum ergo fleret, inclinavit se et prospexit in monumentum.
Et vidit duos angelos in albis sedentes,
unum ad caput et unum ad pedes,
ubi positum fuerat corpus Iesu
This translates into English as:
But Mary stood outside the tomb crying.
As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb
And saw two angels in white,
Seated where Jesus' body had been,
One at the head and the other at the foot.
Light soiling with a number of tiny holes and cracks caused by the oxidation of the black pigment.