Auction 97, Lot 539

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1400 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


2.6 x 3.6 inches
6.6 x 9.1 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 wonderful leaf fully illuminated on the verso in bright red, blue and lots of gold leaf. It is from a very small Book of Hours made in the early 15th century, probably for a woman due to its diminutive size. The text is written in littera textualis, in dark brown ink, with some initials in red and blue. The rubrics are also in red. The large gold initial is from: Dne (domine) labia mea aperies. Et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam. Deus in adiutorium meum intende. (Lord, thou shalt open my lips. And my mouth shall sing thy praise. God, come to my assistance).


Condition: A

A bit of mild crinkling.

Estimate: $300 - $350

Sold for: $275

Closed on 12/5/2001