Auction 149, Lot 720

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1480 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

5.6 x 7.7 inches
14.2 x 19.6 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. There are three large initials decorated with pen work. The text on the recto is a 6th century hymn used in the Roman Breviary at the Office of Prime, known as "Star of Light Now Having Risen." Beginning with the large initial "I" the text translates as:
Now in the sun's new dawning ray,
lowly of heart, our God we pray
that He from harm may keep us free
in all the deeds this day shall see.

On verso, beginning with the large initial "B," is Psalm 118 (119):
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they who search his testimonies: that seek him with their whole heart.
For they that work iniquity, have not walked in his ways.
Thou hast commanded thy commandments to be kept most diligently.
O! that my ways may be directed to keep thy justifications.
Then shall I not be confounded, when I shall look into all thy commandments.
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned the judgments of thy justice.
I will keep thy justifications: O! do not thou utterly forsake me.


Condition: B+

Very light soiling.

Estimate: $140 - $170

Sold for: $100

Closed on 5/21/2014