"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1420 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
2.6 x 3.3 inches
6.6 x 8.4 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 is a lovely, tiny leaf from a Book of Hours created in Flanders around 1420. The book was so small, it must have been the property of a lady who carried it in her purse. The delicate text has many initials in blue, red and burnished gold leaf. The text is in dark brown ink. The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, Matins, psalm 8. Starting with the Illuminated "I" on the recto, the text translates as:
[Out of the mouth of infants] and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.
For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded.
What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?
Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour:
and hast set him over the works of thy hands.
Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields.
The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea.
O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!
A clean and bright example with a few minor spots.