Auction 97, Lot 549

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1450 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


2.7 x 3.7 inches
6.9 x 9.4 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 small leaf from a Book of Hours, written on vellum in Flanders or The Netherlands in the mid 15th century. The verso is beautifully decorated in the Delft style with elaborate penwork in the margin. There are many initials in red or blue and one with gold leaf. Recto is illuminated with red and blue initials. The Latin text is from the Hours of the Virgin, the core of every Book of Hours. A rough translation of the text is: And his mercy from generation unto generations to them that fear him. He hath showed might in his arm he hath dispersed the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath deposed the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble.


Condition: A+

Estimate: $200 - $250

Sold for: $130

Closed on 12/5/2001