"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1450 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
2.6 x 3.7 inches
6.6 x 9.4 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.
Lovely vellum leaf from a Book of Hours created in Bruges, written in regular batarde script. This leaf has magnificent initials on the recto and the verso, in red, blue, white and burnished gold with pen work in the margins. On the recto, the large initial "C" is the beginning of Psalm 149: "Cantate Domino canticum novum laus eius in ecclesia sanctorum..." which translates into English as:
Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: let his praise be in the church of the saints.
Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: and let the children of Sion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in choir: let them sing to him with the timbrel and the psaltery.
For the Lord is well pleased with his people: and he will exalt the meek unto salvation.
The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds.
The high praise of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands:
Clean and bright with very minor toning along edges.