"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1300 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
3.9 x 5.4 inches
9.9 x 13.7 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 vellum leaf is from an early Breviary written in northern France or Flanders. The text is written in a single column (21 lines) in a clear Gothic book hand in black and red ink. There are two large initials in red and blue ink, with a decorative border extending into the margins. Beginning with the large letter "V" is Psalm 118:135-156, which translates in part as:
Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: and teach me thy justifications.
My eyes have sent forth springs of water: because they have not kept thy law.
Thou art just, O Lord: and thy judgment is right.
Thou hast commanded justice thy testimonies: and thy truth exceedingly.
My zeal hath made me pine away: because my enemies forgot thy words.
Thy word is exceedingly refined: and thy servant hath loved it.
I am very young and despised; but I forgot not thy justifications.
Thy justice is justice for ever: and thy law is the truth.
There is toning and soiling and a number of small holes caused by the oxidation of the black ink.