Catalog Archive
Auction 98, Lot 468

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1400 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


5.5 x 7.5 inches
14 x 19.1 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.

Superb, French vellum leaf finely illuminated with several colors and highly burnished gold leaf. The margins of both sides include extremely delicate tendrils of vines, leaves and flowers and the text is embellished with numerous initials and line fillers. The text is from Psalm 6, verse 8, one of the Penitential Psalms. Like the Office of the Dead, the psalms were thought especially efficacious in reducing the time the departed had to spend in purgatory. But it is also clear that the Psalms were recited to benefit the living, as a means of avoiding these sins in the first place.


Condition: A

Minor wear and soil in margins.

Estimate: $450 - $500

Sold for: $300

Closed on 3/6/2002