"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1430 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
2.6 x 3.5 inches
6.6 x 8.9 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 is a lovely, tiny leaf from a Book of Hours created in Flanders around 1430. The book was so small, it must have been the property of a lady who carried it in her purse. The are a number of initials in blue, red and burnished gold leaf, and the left and top margins on recto are filled with vines and leaves. The text is in dark brown ink. The text is from Psalm 123, and starting with the Illuminated "N" on the recto, the text translates as:
If it had not been that the Lord was with us, let Israel now say:
If it had not been that the Lord was with us, When men rose up against us
perhaps they had swallowed us up alive. When their fury was enkindled against us,
perhaps the waters had swallowed us up.
Our soul hath passed through a torrent: perhaps our soul had passed through a water insupportable.
Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us to be a prey to their teeth.
Our soul hath been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the followers. The snare is broken, and we are delivered.
Light toning and soiling.