A Fine Illuminated Vellum Leaf from the Workshop of Jean Coene


A finely decorated vellum leaf from a Renaissance Book of Hours. It contains one single column of 22 lines, ruled in red, of written text in Latin. The text is a fine example of the popular Medieval and Renaissance gothic book-hand script, used extensively for French vernacular books, known as lettre bâtarde. The leaf is executed in red, white, green, yellow, pink, orange and blue tempera, and liquid gold on both sides. The verso contains one highly illuminated initial, highlighting the beginning of Psalm 69, Deus in Adiutorium Meum Intende. The initial, standing on a blue background, is further enriched by a beautiful geometrical decoration. By placing at the beginning of every Hour the invocation of the Psalm, ‘Deus, in audiutorim meum intende’ followed by the response, ‘Domine, ad adiuvandum me festina’ (respectively, “O God, come to my assistance” and “O Lord, make haste to help me”), the Catholic Church implores the assistance of God against any distractions in prayer. The text is bordered to one side with an elegantly rendered column on gold and white ground, divided in twelve rhomboid sections. Each one displays an intricate flower and foliate decoration, depicting acanthus leaves, violets, pinks and iris flowers.

Date: Northern France, circa 1510-1520
Condition: Extremely fine.


This extraordinary piece comes from the workshop of Jean Coene, also known as the Master of the Paris Entries, a prolific artist who was active in Paris for the French court under Louis XII and Francis I, and also collaborated with the workshop of the Master Jean Pichoire. Coene’s quick painting technique and careful finish of his miniatures led him to be one of the most successful artists of high-raking clientele in early sixteenth-century Paris.

The Book of Hours is a book of Christian devotion, which evolved from the psalter. It gained popularity during the Middle Ages, and typically consisted of psalms, prayers, and other devotional texts. It is the most common surviving type of manuscript, but each copy was unique – whether on account of a different selection of texts, or different decoration. As a result, books of this type offer some of the most interesting examples of medieval calligraphy and decorative practice.


Weight 10 g
Dimensions H 16 cm



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