"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1360 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
3.6 x 5 inches
9.1 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. The text is in French, which was rare at the time as Latin was more commonly used in church. There are three small initials, and the verso also has one large illuminated initial, painted in blue and red pen work with burnished gold leaf. The red text on verso reads: "La belle oroison de nre [=notre] dme [=dame]" which translates as "The beautiful prayer of our lady."
Light toning with several stains along the right edge of the sheet.