Delicate rinceaux illuminations, Hours leaf c.1480


A fine panel of delicate rinceaux illuminations beside the text.



Recto:  14 lines of text in Latin written in two sizes on vellum in black ink in a high quality gothic bookhand.  Rubrics in red. An intricate panel of illuminations runs the length of the text in a style known as rinceaux. 


Verso:  As Recto, with an equally fine panel of illuminations.


Source:  Northern France, probably Paris


Date:   c.14801480


Content:  The text is from the Office of the Dead, Matins, Third Nocturne. It is a section of the the ninth lesson (Job 10).  Beginning on the second line it reads: Dimitte me ergo, ut plangam paululum dolorem meum, antequam vadam, et non revertar ad terram tenebrosam, et opertam mortis caligine, terram miseriae, et tenebrarum, ubi umbra mortis, et nullus ordo, sed sempiternus horror inhabitat.  (Suffer me therefore, that I may a little lament my sorrow, before I go, and return not unto the dark land, and that is covered with the mist of death, a land of misery, and darkness, where the shadow of death, and no order, but everlasting horror inhabiteth.)

The smaller text following is the celebrated “Libera me” (Deliver me): Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna, in die illa tremenda.  Quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.  Dum veneris iudicare saeculum per ignem.  Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day, When the heavens and the earth shall be moved, When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.)


Condition:  The leaf is in very good/fine condition, on clean vellum with just the expected edge browning which is masked off by the mat.  The very pretty illuminations retain their original bright colours and lustrous burnished gold.  The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.


Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 185x130 mm. Text and illuminated area : approx.  100x100 mm.  Please note that postage is invoiced separately: Australia $20.  Overseas: ask for quote.  


Notes:  Líbera me is a responsory that is sung in the Office of the Dead and at the absolution of the dead, a service of prayers for the dead said beside the coffin immediately after the Requiem Mass and before burial. Libera me is begun by a cantor, who sings the versicles alone, and the responses are sung by the choir. The text is written in the first person singular, a dramatic substitution in which the choir speaks for the dead person.  In addition to the Gregorian chant in the Roman Gradual, many composers have written settings for the text, including Tomás Luis de Victoria, Anton Bruckner (two settings), Giuseppe Verdi, Gabriel Fauré, Maurice Duruflé, Igor Stravinsky, Benjamin Britten, Krzysztof Penderecki, Antonio Salieri.

The Office of the Dead (its old name was Office for the Dead) was in the back of every Book of Hours the way death itself was always at the back of the medieval mind.   It was the cause of considerable anguish for medieval men and women to think of the potentially long periods of time their relatives would spend in the painful fires of purgatory. Along with the funding of funerary Masses, praying the Office was considered the most efficacious means of reducing this fiery price of obtaining paradise. These aids were essential, because only the living could help the dead. The Office of the Dead includes a moving series of readings from the Old Testament Book of Job. The trials endured by Job become an allegory for one's time on earth, or one’s relatives in purgatory.


Item Number:  MBH 096

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