Auction 97, Lot 542

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1400 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


4 x 6.2 inches
10.2 x 15.7 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.

This crisp vellum leaf is from a Book of Hours, written in France, in the early part of the 15th century. The text is very clearly written in a Gothic bookhand. There are 11 initials and 8 line fillers in red, blue, white and burnished gold leaf on both sides of the leaf. The text is from the Office of the Dead, a daily reminder for Medieval man of the brevity of life and a means to do something for a departed relative who was suffering in Purgatory. It is Psalm 24 : 11 (25 in the King James Version)


Condition: A+

Estimate: $180 - $220

Sold for: $120

Closed on 12/5/2001