Catalog Archive
Auction 98, Lot 467

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1400 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


4.5 x 6.3 inches
11.4 x 16 cm
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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 fine vellum leaf from a French Book of Hours. The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, the central part of every Book. This leaf contains the end of the Matins, ending with a song of Thanksgiving, attributed to Sts. Ambrose and Augustine. The prayer was also sung by explorers who landed on a new coast, after a dangerous voyage. The decoration of this leaf is finely executed with blue and red penwork in the margins and many initials in blue, red and burnished gold leaf.


Condition: A+

Estimate: $180 - $200

Sold for: $170

Closed on 3/6/2002