Catalog Archive
Auction 197, Lot 734


"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1300 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

4.1 x 5.5 inches
10.4 x 14 cm
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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. The text includes part of Psalm 91. Beginning with the large "B" on recto, the text translates as:

It is good to confess to the Lord and to sing psalms to your name, O Most High:
to announce your mercy in the morning, and your truth throughout the night,
upon the ten strings, upon the psaltery, with a canticle, upon stringed instruments.
For you, O Lord, have delighted me with your doings, and I will exult in the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts have been made exceedingly deep.
A foolish man will not know these things, and a senseless one will not understand:
when sinners will have risen up like grass, and when all those who work iniquity will have appeared, that they shall pass away, age after age.
But you, O Lord, are the Most High for all eternity.


Condition: B

There is light toning and soiling, as well as numerous small holes caused by the oxidation of the black ink.

Estimate: $160 - $190

Sold for: $65

Closed on 4/24/2024