Catalog Archive
Auction 153, Lot 746

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1570 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

4.4 x 6.5 inches
11.2 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, gold and white and adorned with a flower. The text is from Job 19; beginning with the large initial "P" on the recto the text translates as:

Since my flesh has been consumed, my bone adheres to my skin, and only my lips have been left around my teeth.
Have mercy on me, have compassion on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord has touched me.
Why do you pursue me just as God does, and satiate yourselves with my flesh?
Who will grant to me that my words may be written down? Who will grant to me that they may be inscribed in a book,
with an iron pen and a plate of lead, or else be carved in stone?
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and on the last day I will rise out of the earth.


Condition: A

Minor marginal soiling.

Estimate: $160 - $200


Closed on 5/20/2015