"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.
Subject: Medieval Manuscript
Period: 1400 (circa)
Publication: Book of Hours
5 x 7.2 inches
12.7 x 18.3 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.
A lovely leaf from a Book of Hours, handwritten in France. It is part of the Hours of the Cross, sung early in the morning at Matins. The text is written in a black gothic book-hand and decorated in blue, red and gold. Around the text is a border in gold and the margin at both sides is decorated with leaves in red, blue, green and gold.
Some of the marginal decoration has worn off from the turning of pages through the centuries.