c.1480 French Book of Hours illuminated leaf


Richly illuminated leaf. Delicate rinceaux illuminations



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. One two-line illuminated initial ‘M’ in blue and black with fine white penwork.  The initial is on a ground of raised and burnished gold and is finished with an internal foliate design. Radiating into the left margin from the initial ‘M’ are illuminations of fine black tendrils bearing red & blue coloured flowers, green leaves and gold ivy leaves. The right margin has an intricate panel of illuminations running 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.1480


Content:  The text is from the Office of the Dead, Matins, First Nocturne.  The first five lines are the end of a reading from Job 10: …humana sunt tempora, ut quaeras iniquitatem meam, et peccatum meum scruteris? Et scias, quia nihil impium fecerim, cum sit nemo, qui de manu tua possit eruere.

(…are thy years as the times of men, that thou shouldst seek my iniquity, and shouldst search my sin? And shouldst know that I have done no impious thing, whereas there is no man, that can deliver out of thy hand.

The smaller script following reads: Qui Lazarum resuscitasti a monumento foetidum. Tu eis Domine dona requiem, et locum indulgentiae. Qui venturus es iudicare vivos et mortuos, et saeculum per ignem. Tu eis Domine dona requiem, et locum indulgentiae.  (Thou which didst raise Lazarus stinking from the grave: Thou O Lord give them rest, and place of pardon.  Which art to come to judge the living, and the dead, and the world by fire. Thou O Lord give them rest, and place of pardon).

The illuminated initial ‘M’ begins the third Lesson (Job 10):  Manus tuae Domine fecerunt me, et plasmaverunt me totum in circuitu: et sic repente praecipitas me?  (Thy hands O Lord have made me, and framed me wholly round about: and dost thou so suddenly cast me down headlong?)


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 extensive and 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. 100x120 mm. Presented in a museum quality mat, ready for framing.  Please note that packing and postage is invoiced separately.  Within Australia: $22.50.  Overseas: ask for quote. 


Notes:  A performance of the Nocturne  Qui Lazarum resuscitasti  by the group Mezzo is on youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV5eKa4e4hs

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:  MBH102

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