"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1470 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
4.6 x 6 inches
11.7 x 15.2 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 buttery vellum leaf is from a French Book of Hours, written in or near Rouen. The text is written in Latin in regular book hand in brown ink. The leaf is embellished with two large initials in red and blue ink and burnished gold and a decorative panel in the left margin with leaves and flowers. The text is from the Office of the Dead, the psalms and prayers for relatives and friends who were suffering in purgatory. This passage is from Job 10, verses 8-12, and the text reads (beginning at the large initial "M" on recto):
8 Your hands have made me and formed me all around, and, in this way, do you suddenly throw me away?
9 Remember, I ask you, that you have fashioned me like clay, and you will reduce me to dust.
10 Have you not extracted me like milk and curdled me like cheese?
11 You have clothed me with skin and flesh. You have put me together with bones and nerves.
12 You have assigned to me life and mercy, and your visitation has preserved my spirit.
A bright example with soiling in bottom margin.