"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscripts
Period: 1450 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
3.8 x 5.3 inches
9.7 x 13.5 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, small leaf from a Book of Hours created in France. The delicate text has 9 small initials in red, blue and burnished gold leaf. The text is in dark brown ink and includes part of Psalm 21, which translates as:
For tribulation is very near: for there is none to help me.
Many calves have surrounded me: fat bulls have besieged me.
They have opened their mouths against me, as a lion ravening and roaring.
I am poured out like water; and all my bones are scattered.
My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws: and thou hast brought me down into the dust of death.
Light soiling at bottom right where the page was turned.