Auction 97, Lot 546

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1450 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


10 x 7 inches
25.4 x 17.8 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 very large leaf written on a fine sheet of vellum with extraordinary decorations. Each side is written in brown ink with rubrics in red and numerous initials in red, blue, white and gold leaf. The margins are filled with delicate tendrils of vines, leaves and flowers. The text is part of the Suffrages of many Saints, specifically John the Evangelist. A partial translation includes: Make thy church shine, we ask, O kindly Lord, so that illuminated by the teachings of blessed John thy apostle and evangelist it may reach thy eternal gifts. The leaf is numbered lxii (62), which is very unusual.


Condition: A

There is a bit of soil & a tiny pin hole in margins and a small smudge on one side. Overall a superb example.

Estimate: $950 - $1,100


Closed on 12/5/2001