c 1480 Flemish Book of Hours Leaf - The Pieta


Original leaf with a beautiful miniature painting of the Pieta from an illuminated medieval manuscript Book of Hours. Red-ruled for 18 lines of Latin text, written with dark brown ink in gothic liturgical book-hand on animal vellum. (173 x 130mm – 6 ¾ x 5 1/8’’) 

Flanders (probably Bruges), c. 1480.

Extensively embellished with a  three-line initial in burnished gold on red and blue ground with delicate white penwork and a trompe l’oeil border with colorful flowers on a bright yellow ground.

Seven-line miniature painting of The Pietà: The Virgin Mary, wearing blue robes, is seated with her back to the Cross, right arm supporting the body of Christ, left hand on his abdomen. She looks down at the face of Christ whose head is upright, body draped across his mother’s lap with all five wounds evident.  In the background are hills and crosses.

The illuminated “O” begins the Obsecro Te – a favorite Medieval Prayer: “Obsecro te…” (I beseech thee, Lady Holy Mary, Mother of God, most full of piety, daughter of the Most High King, Mother most glorious, Mother of orphans, consolation of the desolate, way of the straying, health and hope of those hoping in thee, virgin before giving birth, virgin during birth, and virgin after giving birth…).

Provenance:  Probably painted in Bruges, circa 1480’s, on the basis of comparison with borders in related manuscripts, especially Paris, Biblioteque Nationale, MS fr. 192, made for Louis of Bruges, and London British Library, Royal MS 15 E III, dated 1482, both discussed and illustrated in Durrieu, La Miniature flamande, pls. LXIII, LXIV.

Reference: A sister leaf (Opening the Hours of the Virgin at Nones) is pictured and described by Dr. Sandra Hindman in Ferrini. "Important Western Medieval Manuscripts",  1987, Catalog Nr.101.

Striking leaf with a desirable subject, in excellent condition with strong bold colors and gold.

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat

  • Inventory# IM-12157