c 1475 Breviary Leaf - Isaiah, & Homily by Leo the Great


Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Breviary.  31 lines written in Latin in double columns with dark brown and red ink on animal vellum. (183 x 135mm – 7 3/8 x 5 ¼’’) 

Four two-line illuminated initials alternating in red and white or blue and white, with a floral or geometric interior - all on a burnished gold ground, and extending into the margin with a delicate rinceaux border in red, blue, green, yellow burnished gold.  

France (Use of Autun), c. 1475.

Line two continues Isaiah 60:8-11: “Qui sunt isti…” (Who are these, that fly as clouds, and as doves to their windows? For, the islands wait for me, and the ships of sea in the beginning: that I may bring thy sons from afar: their silver, and their gold with them, to the name of the lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee…). 

The two-line illuminated “G” continues Isaiah 60: 12-15: Gens enim…” (For the nation and the kingdom that will not serve thee, shall perish: and the Gentiles shall be wasted with desolation. The glory of Libanus shall come to thee, the fir tree, and the box tree, and the pine tree together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary: and I will glorify the place of my feet…).

The two-line illuminated “C” begins a homily by Pope and Saint Leo the Great  (c. 400-451) “Celebrato proximo die quo intemerata…”.

Provenance: from a Breviary written for the Use of Autun c.1474-75; property of the descendants of Sir William Forbes, 6th Baronet of Pitsligo (1739-1806) from the Library at Fettercairn House, Kincardineshire; sold at Sotheby's London Dec 2016, subsequently dispersed.

A Breviary is composed of many books (prayers, hymns, psalms...) painstakingly but carefully written by hand, and used by monks and priests to conduct their daily services.  The painted and illuminated manuscript is among the greatest artistic triumphs of the Middle Ages, demonstrating social, intellectual, religious and cultural attitudes of medieval life.

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat

  • Inventory# IM-12117