Auction 155, Lot 729

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1530 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

2.5 x 4.5 inches
6.4 x 11.4 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 tiny vellum leaf is from a late French Book of Hours, almost certainly ordered by a Lady, as it would have fit perfectly in her purse! The whole text is surrounded by a golden border, with one large and many small initials in gold and black, which is rare. There are also a number of exceptional line fillers depicted as branches and knotted ropes. The text is in a very neat hand in a classic letter type using both black and red ink. The pages are numbered, which only was done in later Books of Hours. The text is from the Office of the Dead, the psalms and prayers for relatives and friends who were suffering in purgatory, Psalm 7. Beginning with the large initial "D" on recto, the text translates as:

O Lord my God, in thee have I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me.
Lest at any time he seize upon my soul like a lion, while there is no one to redeem me, nor to save.
O Lord my God, if I have done this thing, if there be iniquity in my hands:
If I have rendered to them that repaid me evils, let me deservedly fall empty before my enemies.
Let the enemy pursue my soul, and take it, and tread down my life on the earth, and bring down my glory to the dust.


Condition: A+

A few minute worm holes only visible when held to light.

Estimate: $220 - $250

Sold for: $160

Closed on 11/18/2015