Exceptionally small illuminated m/s leaf, Italy.

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The extremely small size of this leaf can be explained thus: Medieval piety involved substantial elements of public display, and the small but emergent urban bourgeoisie, mostly merchants or administrators in the growing royal bureaucracies were intent on imitating their superiors.  So it is not surprising that the Book of Hours became something of a chic devotional accessory, especially for women, an incongruity that occasionally attracted disapproving comment. Eustache Deschamps, the great French poet of the late 14th century, put his satire into verse when he imagined the thoughts of a bourgeois wife who yearns for a Book of Hours that  "is as graceful and gorgeous as me... So the people will gasp when I use it,That's the prettiest prayer-book in town’.”


Recto:  12 lines of text in Latin written on vellum in brown ink in a rounded Rotunda script. Rubrics in blue.  One two-line illuminated initial ’H’ in blues, pink and greens on a ground of burnished gold, with extensions into the margin of foliate scrolls in light & dark pink, greens, blues and finished with burnished gold bezants.

Verso:  Four lines of text.

Origin:   Italy.

Date:  c.1500

Content:  The text is from The Hours of the Cross at Compline.  The illuminated initial ‘H’ begins the hymn:

Hora completorii datur sepulturae

Corpus Christi nobile, spes vitae futurae

Conditur aromate: complentur scripturae:

Iugi fit memoriae mors haec mihi curae.

When as compline was come was layed in his tomb,

Christ his body precious the hope of life to come.

Embalmed it was: scriptures thus accomplished we see:

Still this death to have in mind my care O let it be.

Condition:  This leaf is in very good/excellent condition.  The very slight ink loss doesn’t affect legibility and the illuminations retain their bright colours and glowing burnished gold. Archivally mounted.  The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.

Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 80x60 mm.  Text and illuminations approx. 45x40 mm. Please note that shipping is invoiced separately.

Notes:  The Hours of the Cross marked the specific times of the day associated with the stages in Christ's Passion.

Item No: MBH167

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