French Book of Hours leaf, c. 1465.
The Seven Penitential Psalms.
With a charming “hybrid” in the illuminated panel.
Recto: Text in Latin written on fine vellum in black ink a precise Gothic bookhand. Ruled in red. Five one-line illuminated initials in blue and salmon with fine white penwork on a ground of burnished gold outlined in black. The initials are infilled with coloured flowers. An intricate full length panel of illuminations of blue, red and liquid gold acanthus leaves and flowers is inhabited by a hybrid creature or “grotesque” consisting of a bird with a dragon’s body and tail and with feathers standing up along its back. While grotesques in medieval manuscripts are often subversively humorous or repugnant, this one is oddly charming.
Verso: As Recto, with one two-line and three one-line illuminated initials, two line fillers and a similar panel of illuminations, but with different flowers and no grotesque.
Origin: Northern France, probably Paris.
Content: The text on Recto begins at Verse 24 of Psalm 101 (KJV102), one of the Seven Penitential Psalms.
Respondit ei in via virtutis suae: paucitatem dierum meorum nuntia michi:
Ne revoces me in dimidio dierum meorum, in generationem et generationem anni tui.
Initio tu, Domine, terram fundasti, et opera manuum tuarum sunt caeli.
Ipsi peribunt, tu autem permanes; et omnes sicut vestimentum veterascent. Et sicut opertorium mutabis eos, et mutabunt[ur].
(I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.
Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.)
Condition: The leaf is in excellent condition with fine, clean vellum and outstanding illuminations. It is unconditionally guaranteed genuine. Archivally mounted, ready for framing.
Notes: The Seven Penitential Psalms or Psalms of Confession are the psalms 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129 & 142 (Vulgate numbering), or psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130 & 143 (KJV numbering). Authorship is traditionally ascribed to King David who composed them to atone for his grievous sins which included adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. They have long been associated with penitential devotions and commended as defence against the seven deadly sins, each psalm being associated with one of them. St. Augustine is said to have had them placed before him to read while he was on his deathbed.
Size: Leaf: approx. 130x100 mm. Text and illuminated area : approx. 70x75 mm.
Item: No: MBH130