Printed and hand illuminated vellum leaf, c. 1520.

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A printed and hand illuminated vellum leaf

 in Latin and late medieval French.

Book of Hours, c. 1520.



This larger than normal leaf is from the intriguing transitional period when the production of Books of Hours was moving from manuscript to printing from movable type.  To mimic the appearance of manuscript works, they were sometimes printed on vellum and had hand-painted illuminated initials added to the printed page. Even the earliest Books of Hours included some French - often rubrics to prayers - but in the era of print, the vernacular steadily gained more space in Books of Hours.  Eventually, printed Books of Hours evolved into a Latin-French hybrid, as this example.


Verso:  32 lines of text in French printed in red and black in a lettre bâtarde typeface on red-ruled vellum.  In a smaller column beside the French is the parallel text in Latin printed in a rounded gothic font.  Many hand illuminated initials in liquid gold on alternating blue and red grounds.


Recto:  As Verso.


Source:  Paris, France


Date:   c.1520


Content:  The leaf is from the Hours of the Cross at Vespers.  It includes the hymn "De cruce deponitur".  The Latin text of the hymn begins with the blue initial 'D' and the French with the red 'H'.


De cruce deponitur hora vespertina.

Fortitudo latuit in mente divina,

talem mortem subiit vitæ medicina.

Heu, corona gloriæ iacuit supina.


A poetic English translation reads:


At the hour of eventide Christ from his cross was ta'en, 

In whose soul his fortitude did covertly remain. 

Such a death vouchsafed to take of life the medicine sound: 

Glory's crown alas the while lay grovelling on the ground.


Condition:  This leaf is in near fine condition. The liquid gold is bright and the coloured grounds unfaded. The high quality vellum is in excellent condition with just minor edge browning and a pale stain in the top margin which in no way detracts from the impact of this beautifully printed and illuminated leaf. 

The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.


Size:  Leaf: approx. 200x140 mm. Text and illuminated area : approx.  160x115 mm.  Archivally mounted, ready to frame.  


Item No:  PSA 035

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