This leaf is from the brief transitional period when the new technology of printing with movable type was combined with the more labor intensive methods of hand painting. The earliest printers were trained in the manuscript tradition and incorporated the conventions of historiated initials and illustrations into their early work. At first they left those spaces blank for the illuminator to complete entirely by hand. Later they developed printing methods (using woodcuts or iron engravings) to decorate the leaves.
This superb hand-colored image shows a battle with a flag bearing a harp flying in the sky, a symbol associated with King David. The text below the image is the beginning of Psalm 6, one of the seven Penitential Psalms and a song of repentance usually attributed to King David. The text translates as:
O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger:
nor chasten me in thy displeasure.
Have mercy upon me, O Lord.
The recto of this vellum leaf continues Psalm 6 and begins Psalm 31. The verses include initials that were hand painted in red, blue and burnished gold, surrounded by elaborate iron engravings that feature additional biblical scenes. This vellum leaf is from a Book of Hours printed on vellum by Gilles Hardouin for Germain Hardouin librayre demourant entre les deux portes du Palays en l’enseigne Saincte Marguerite (bookseller living between the two gates of the Palace at the sign of Saint Marguerite) of Paris.
Clean and bright with minor toning and soiling along the edges of the leaf and a bit of show-through of ink on verso.