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 one large initial, an astounding 24 small initials, and numerous line fillers in red and blue ink and burnished gold, as well as a decorative panel in the right margin on recto with leaves and flowers. The text is the Litany of Saints, beginning with the large letter on recto.
Light toning and soiling with a few minute worm holes only visible when held to light.