Catalog Archive
Auction 99, Lot 574

"[Illuminated Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscripts

Period: 1400 (circa)

Publication: Book of Hours


2.8 x 3.8 inches
7.1 x 9.7 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 tiny vellum leaf from a lady's Book of Hours. The most striking feature of this leaf is the Delft style penwork in blue ink. The initial "B" (from Benedictio) at the opening of the page is decorated with burnished gold. The writing is in littera textualis, in dark brown ink, with 6 initials and 5 Maltese crosses in red and blue. The rubric (or chapter heading) is also in red.


Condition: B

Light stain at binding side, just affecting marginal decoration.

Estimate: $160 - $200

Sold for: $120

Closed on 6/12/2002