Catalog Archive
Auction 98, Lot 474

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1450 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


5.5 x 7.25 inches
14 x 18.4 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.

This lovely vellum leaf was written in Normandy, around 1450, and was once owned by Seigneur Richard du Mesnildot, Provost Royal of Coutances, in 1489. The text is from the Hours of the Virgin, Prime - the third 'hour' of the day. Both sides are written in brown-black ink in a Gothic bookhand with red rubrics. The verso contains two large illuminated initials in red, blue, white and burnished gold leaf, both of which extend into the margin with delicate tendrils of leaves and flowers.


Condition: A

Some minor spotting in margins.

Estimate: $180 - $220

Sold for: $140

Closed on 3/6/2002