Catalog Archive
Auction 147, Lot 711

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1420 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

2.4 x 3.2 inches
6.1 x 8.1 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 is a lovely, tiny leaf from a Book of Hours created in Flanders around 1420. The book was so small, it must have been the property of a lady who carried it in her purse. The delicate text has many initials in blue, red and burnished gold leaf. The text is in dark brown ink, with the rubrics in red. The text is from the Seven Penitential Psalms (101:23-29), which date as early as the 5th century and are used to express sorrow or sin. Starting with the Illuminated "I" on the recto, the text translates as:

When the people assemble together, and kings, to serve the Lord.
He answered him in the way of his strength: Declare unto me the fewness of my days.
Call me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are unto generation and generation.
In the beginning, O Lord, thou foundedst the earth: end the heavens are the works of thy hands.
They shall perish but thou remainest: and all of them shall grow old like a garment:
And as a vesture thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed.
But thou art always the selfsame, and thy years shall not fail.
The children of thy servants shall continue: and their seed shall be directed for ever.


Condition: B+

Minor soiling and toning.

Estimate: $110 - $140

Sold for: $80

Closed on 11/20/2013