"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1570 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.5 x 6.5 inches
11.4 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 one large initial in red, blue and white and adorned with leaves and a flower, as well as numerous small initials and line fillers in red, blue, green and gold. The text is from Psalm 66, and beginning with the large initial "D" on the verso, the text translates as:
May God have mercy on us, and bless us:
May he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.
That we may know thy way upon earth: thy salvation in all nations.
Let people confess to thee, O God: let all people give praise to thee.
Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for thou judgest the people with justice, and directest the nations upon earth.
Clean and bright.