Vostre Book of Hours printed leaf, c. 1505

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The “Obsecro Te” and “O Intemerata” prayers to the Virgin 


Verso: 23 lines of text in Latin printed on vellum in a Gothic Littera Batarde typeface.  Two hand illuminated initials in liquid gold on red and blue grounds. Very fine metal cut borders include a “grotesque”, a bird, acanthus leaves and a fanciful column borne on the heads of boys.   See images below 


Recto:   As Recto, but text only and different marginal metal cuts. See images below


Source:  Paris, France


Date:   c.1505


Content:  The leaf is from the Prayers section in a Book of Hours.  The two prayers (see Notes below) are to the Virgin and Saint John the Evangelist.


Condition:  This leaf is in very good condition, apart from rubbing to the two illuminated initials.  This may have been caused by the habit of devout readers kissing the page on particularly important prayers or images.  The vellum is in fine condition with minor edge browning which is masked off by the mat.  The text and metal cuts are sharply printed. The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.


Notes:  This leaf is from the intriguing transitional period when Books of Hours began to be printed from movable type.  To mimic the appearance of manuscript works, they were often printed on vellum, decorated with metal-cut illustrations and had hand-painted illuminated initials added to the printed page. 

Simon Vostre (1486-1518) printed and published in Paris at the sign of St. John the Evangelist on the Rue Neuve Notre Dame, the “new street” leading to the great cathedral begun in 1164 by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris. The Rue Neuve served as the centre of the commercial book trade from its beginnings through to the appearance of print in the late 15th century.

For his printed Books of Hours, Vostre, together with Philip Pigouchet, designed a series of metal cuts to decorate the borders of the pages.  Among them were histories of the saints, biblical figures, even caricatures directed against Churchmen, after the manner of the old sculptors, who thought that sin was rendered more horrible in the garb of a monk. Nestled in the borders amongst acanthus leaves were, amongst many images,  fantastic animals, musicians, birds, “grotesques” (half men, half beasts), and saints piously praying.

Notes:  "There are two special prayers to the Virgin that appear in nearly all Books of Hours.  They are known by their incipits (opening words): "Obsecro te" (I beseech you) and "O intemerata" (O immaculate Virgin).  Written in the first person singular, the prayers address the Virgin directly in especially plaintive, urgent tones.  They are among the most moving of all prayers in the Books of Hours and encapsulate the essence of late medieval spirituality, especially as it relates to the cult of the Virgin…"   Roger S. Wieck, Painted Prayers.


Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 170x110 mm. Text and illuminated area : approx.  150x90 mm.  Mat size: approx. 330x255 mm.  Presented in a museum quality mat, ready to frame.  Certificate of Authenticity. Contact us for further images of this leaf.

Packing & registered, insured post within Australia: $22.50.  Overseas destinations: ask for quote. 


Stock No: PSA 023


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