Death confronting a Nobleman - c 1518 Book of Hours Leaf


Original leaf from a printed & hand-illuminated Book of Hours.  Twenty-eight lines of ruled Latin text, printed in red & black on animal vellum. (178 x 115mm – 7 x 4 ½’’) 

Seven illuminated two-line initials in gold alternating on a red-orange or deep blue ground.

Printed by Gilles Hardouyn & hand-painted in the workshop of Germain Hardouyn - brother of the printer & a highly skilled illuminator.  Paris (Use of Rome), c. 1518.

Noted for its DECORATIVE BORDERS - the paneled surrounds are historiated (containing identifiable scenes or figures) or inhabited forms.

The miniature painting, verso, surrounding the text on the left & bottom depicts Death confronting a Nobleman:  A nobleman lies on the ground with hands raised in alarm. A tall skeleton representing death places a long spear to his chest. The skeleton stands against the night sky while the nobleman lies on a grassy field at dusk.  The painting warns the reader that death is as certain as the night sky. 

This leaf concludes the Litany of the Saints (first prescribed by Pope Gregory in 590 for a public thanksgiving following a plague that ravaged Rome).

The two-line illuminated “O” (verso) begins: “Omnipotens…” (Almighty & everlasting God, Who hast dominion over the living & the dead, & art merciful to all whom Thou foreknowest shall be Thine by faith & good works: we humbly beseech Thee; that they for whom we intend to pour forth our prayers, whether this present world still detains them in the flesh, or the world to come has already received them out of their bodies, may, through the intercession of all Thy Saints, and in Thy compassionate goodness, obtain the pardon of all their sins).

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat.

  • Inventory# IM-11592
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