Ivy Vines with gilded leaves. French Book of Hours leaf.

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lvy has long been associated with Christian belief.  Ivy climbs towards the sky, symbolising the believer's striving towards God. It forms a union with whatever it may be clinging to, making the two almost inseparable and thus symbolising fidelity and faithfulness.  The evergreen ivy was also viewed as a symbol of the eternal life of the soul after the death of the body.

Early Books of Hours were decorated and illuminated with ivy vines and leaves before illuminators were seduced by the elaborate contortions of acanthus leaves in the 15th century.

Verso:  14 lines of text in Latin written on vellum in an assured gothic script. Ruled in red.  One illuminated two-line initial ‘A’ in salmon with fine white penwork and outlined in black.  The initial is on a burnished gold ground. An intricate coloured internal foliate design extends into the margins with blue and black ivy vines bearing coloured and burnished gold leaves.  Six one-line illuminated initials in burnished gold on coloured grounds and four line fillers.

Recto:  As Verso with one two-line illuminated initial ‘V’ with ivy extensions, four one-line initials and two line fillers.

Origin:   Northern France, probably Reims.

Date:  c.1430.

Content:  The two-line illuminated ‘A’ on Verso begins the first psalm (125) for None in the Hours of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

In convertando Dominus captivitatem Sion, facti sumus sicut consolati.Tunc repletum est gaudio os nostrum, et lingua nostra exsultatione.  Tunc dicent inter gentes:Magnificavit Dominus facere cum eis.

When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.

The text on Recto is one of the most widely used hymns in the Church, the ninth century Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Creator Spirit).

Veni Creator spiritus,

mentes tuorum visita,

imple superna gratia

quae tu creasti, pectora.

Come Holy Ghost, Creator blest,

and in our souls take up Thy rest:

Come with Thy grace and heavenly aid

to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

Musical settings:  Over the centuries, Veni Creator has inspired works by Charpentier, Pachalbel, Bach, Saint-Saëns, Berlioz, Stockhausen and many more.

Condition:  This leaf is in excellent condition.  The very lightly toned vellum is free of blemishes.  There is a small hole in the inner lower margin, masked off by the mat.  The beautifully executed illuminations retain their original bright colours and lustrous gold. Archivally mounted.  The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.

Size:  Leaf: c.170x125 mm.  Please note that shipping is invoiced separately.

Notes:  Books of Hours were prayer books designed for the laity who wished to emulate the cycle of daily devotions followed by the clergy but without taking actual vows.  The contents grew out of the psalter but included a mixed variety of other types of material - hymns, lessons, biblical readings, calendars etc. 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.

Item No: MBH159

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