"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1360 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
3.5 x 5 inches
8.9 x 12.7 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 tiny vellum leaf is from an early French Book of Hours. Each side has several small initials, and the verso also has one large illuminated initial, painted in blue and red pen work with burnished gold leaf. The text is from Psalm 1, beginning with the large initial "S" on the recto:
But his will is with the law of the Lord, and he will meditate on his law, day and night.
And he will be like a tree that has been planted beside running waters, which will provide its fruit in its time,
and its leaf will not fall away, and all things whatsoever that he does will prosper.
Not so the impious, not so. For they are like the dust that the wind casts along the face of the earth.
Therefore, the impious will not prevail again in judgment, nor sinners in the council of the just.
For the Lord knows the way of the just. And the path of the impious will pass away.
Light toning with several small stains.