"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1480 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
5.6 x 7.9 inches
14.2 x 20.1 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 creamy vellum leaf is from an Italian book of hours, written in black, red and blue ink. One large initial on the verso is also decorated with pen work. The text is from Psalms 135 and 136. Beginning with the red initial "Q" in the middle of the leaf on the recto, the text reads:
Quia iudicabit Dominus populum suum et in servis suis deprecabitur
Simulacra gentium argentum et aurum opera manuum hominum
Os habent et non loquentur oculos habent et non videbunt
Aures habent et non audient neque enim est spiritus in ore eorum
Similes illis fiant qui faciunt ea et omnes qui sperant in eis
Domus Israel benedicite Domino domus Aaron benedicite Domino
Domus Levi benedicite Domino qui timetis Dominum benedicite Domino
Benedictus Dominus ex Sion qui habitat in Hierusalem
This translates into English as:
For the Lord will judge his people, and will be entreated in favour of his servants.
The idols of the Gentiles are silver and gold, the works of men's hands.
They have a mouth, but they speak not: they have eyes, but they see not.
They have ears, but they hear not: neither is there any breath in their mouths.
Let them that make them be like to them: and every one that trusteth in them.
Bless the Lord, O house of Israel: bless the Lord, O house of Aaron.
Bless the Lord, O house of Levi: you that fear the Lord, bless the Lord.
Blessed be the Lord out of Sion, who dwelleth in Jerusalem.
Marginal soiling with one minor abrasion in text at bottom of verso.