Auction 149, Lot 719

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1480 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

4.1 x 6 inches
10.4 x 15.2 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.

A fine vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours, written in Angers on the Loire River. This region was well known for the many workshops for Books of Hours. Many masters who worked there became famous, including Jouvenel, Robinet Tesard and the Master of the Geneva Boccaccio. This leaf has one large initial, seven small initials and seven line fillers in red, blue and gold. The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, Lauds (beginning at the top on the recto):

[O Lady set in glory great,
Above the stars] in high degree,
That gave him suck with sacred breast,
By providence that formed thee.
By thy fair blossom thou restored,
What lamentable Eve decayed:
That wailing wights might mount the stars,
The heavens’ window thou art made.
The gate thou art of the high king,
The port of light that glisters clear,
Since life was given by a maid.
Let freed men show joyful cheer.

On the verso is part of the Canticle of Zachary:

Blessed be our Lord God of Israel: because he hath
visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
And hath erected the horn of salvation to us: in the house of David his servant.
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets: that are from the beginning.
Salvation from our enemies: and from the hand of all that hate us.


Condition: A

Very minor soiling.

Estimate: $110 - $140

Sold for: $120

Closed on 5/21/2014