Catalog Archive
Auction 99, Lot 566

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1400 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


4 x 6 inches
10.2 x 15.2 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 magnificent leaf from a French Book of Hours. A striking miniature of a funeral in a church with Roman windows fills the recto. The coffin is at center, draped in a blue shroud surrounded by mourners (dressed in black), the monks of the choir and the priest. The borders of the leaf are elaborately decorated with flowers and leaves in different colors. Below the miniature a large initial "D" is illuminated with gold leaf and red-and-blue flowers. The verso concludes with twelve lines of text, including 2 initials and 2 line fillers. The text is from Psalm 114 and 116 in the King James version.


Condition: A

Some cockling and a minor crease with remnants of hinge tape at edges.

Estimate: $1,800 - $2,000

Sold for: $1,300

Closed on 6/12/2002