Auction 149, Lot 721

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1570 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

4.4 x 6.5 inches
11.2 x 16.5 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 wonderful vellum leaf from a Book of Hours written in Paris in the latter part of the 16th century. This is one of the last Books of Hours, as their value was declared null by Pius V in 1568. The scribe used dark brown ink and wrote in fine, Roman script, possibly trying to imitate printed type. The leaf is decorated with two large initials in red, blue, gold and white and adorned with a flower, as well as one small initial in green and gold. The text is from Job 13; beginning with the large initial "R" on the recto the text translates as:

[Call me, and I will answer you, or else I will speak, and you can] answer me.
How many iniquities and sins do I have? Reveal my crimes and offenses to me.
Why do you conceal your face and consider me to be your enemy?
Against a leaf, which is carried away by the wind, you reveal your power, and you pursue dry straw.


Condition: A

Minor marginal soiling.

Estimate: $160 - $190

Sold for: $190

Closed on 5/21/2014