Auction 97, Lot 540

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1400 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


6 x 8.6 inches
15.2 x 21.8 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 superb leaf from a Book of Hours made in France at the beginning of the 15th century. Both sides are richly embellished with flowers and leaves in full color and burnished gold leaf. There are ten initials in red, blue, white and gold and 5 line fillers in the same colors. The text is from the Office of the Dead, the Lauds. Many songs in the office are very sad, but this leaf contains the glorious Psalm 148. Following is a partial translation: Blessed art thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven and praised, and glorified, and extolled forever. Amen. Thou daughter art blessed of our Lord for that by thee we have partaken of the fruit of life. Praise ye our Lord from the heavens, praise ye him in the high places. Praise ye him, all his angels, praise ye him, all his hosts.


Condition: A+

Light toning in margins, overall very fine. Remnants of hinge tape in upper margins.

Estimate: $600 - $700

Sold for: $400

Closed on 12/5/2001