Auction 97, Lot 550

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1450 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


4.2 x 6.5 inches
10.7 x 16.5 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 splendid vellum leaf written more than 500 years ago probably in a Parisian scriptorium. It is beautifully written in brown ink with numerous initials and line fillers in red, blue and gold leaf. The most striking feature is the flourishing decoration of leaves and flowers in the margins executed in gold and several colors. The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, the Lauds, the Canticle of the three Children in Daniel 3 [Dews and hoar frost, bless ye our Lord frost and cold, bless ye our Lord. Ice, and snow, bless ye our Lord nights and days, bless ye our Lord. Light, and darkness, bless ye our Lord lightnings and clouds, bless ye our Lord. Let the earth bless our Lord, let it praise, and extol him forever]. Both sides are beautifully illuminated and would be perfect displayed in a double-sided frame.


Condition: A

Couple of minor flaws in the vellum in the margin, else very fine.

Estimate: $350 - $400

Sold for: $250

Closed on 12/5/2001