Opulently Decorated Book of Hours Manuscript


A richly decorated parchment leaf from a Renaissance Parisian Book of Hours. The leaf contains a single column of text, consisting of 18 lines, written in a high grade gothic bookhand script. The opening characters on certain lines have been accentuated, written in either blue or pink ink on a gold background, and enclosed around foliate sprigs. Interspersed throughout the text are various line fillers, comprising foliate patterns surrounded by gold. A beautiful three-quarter border covers the front and back of the leaf, and includes a spray of gold ivy leaves terminating in coloured flower-heads and acanthus sprays. The artist has also included strawberries – the symbol of perfect righteousness, and red roses – the symbol of martyrdom and columbine, which also bears resemblance to the red rose of Lancaster.

Date: c. 1410 – 1420
Provenance: Property of a North London gentleman; Ex Bloomsbury sale, 6th Dec 2017; Ex Sotheby’s London 5th Dec 1995, lot 43.
Condition: Excellent condition


The Book of Hours is a literary work of Christian devotion, which gained popularity during the Middle Ages. Indeed, from the 14th to 16th century, Book of Hours’ were the most commonly manufactured medieval literature. In addition to their stimulating content, comprising psalms, prayers, and devotional texts, these books are among the most interesting examples of medieval calligraphy and decorative practice. Such manuscripts were made and decorated by hand, and provide an in-depth look at life in medieval Europe.  They comprise eight sections of devotional texts (Office of Readings), which were intended to be said at certain points of the day, known as the Hours of the Virgin. This particular leaf includes part of Psalm 108 (A Song of David), as well as the hymn for the third hour, known as “Terce”, which was said at around 9 o’ clock in the morning.

To discover more about Medieval manuscripts please visit our relevant blog post: Illuminated Manuscripts & Vellum Pages.


Weight 5 g
Dimensions W 15.7 x H 21 cm




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