c 1470 Book of Hours Leaf - Mass of St Gregory


Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Book of Hours. 16 lines of red-ruled text, written in Latin with dark brown ink in gothic script on animal vellum. (179 x 127 mm - 7.2 x 5.1").

One illuminated three-line initial in blue & white on burnished gold ground with floral infill; seven illuminated one-line initials & four line extenders in liquid gold, on blue or sepia ground. Elaborate panel borders contain a highly decorative floral design with flowers, berries (including strawberries – symbol of perfect righteousness) & acanthus leaves in blue, red, green, pink, burnished and brushed gold.

The miniature painting depicts The Mass of St. Gregory. St. Gregory (6th century pope and a Father of the Church) is shown celebrating Mass. As per the legend, Christ himself appears on the altar, supported by an angel, to dispel the notion suggested by one of Gregory’s assistants, that Christ may not be present in the Eucharist. The faces are beautifully detailed and exquisitely painted.

Western France (Poitou?), c. 1470. 

Provenance: From a Book of Hours presented by Count Claude de Fonseque to his sister Countess Helene de Fonseque de Segueres.  Formerly in the collection of Allen Rowland – on deposit at the Beinecke Library, Yale.

The three-line ''I'' begins eight verses of Psalms. St Bernard records that the devil told him that the souls of those who said these verses every day would be saved from eternal damnation.  The Psalms included here are: 12 (KJ 13):4, 30(KJ 31):6, 38(KJ39):5, 115 (KJ116)16, 141 (KJ142):5 & 6.

Presented in an archival 14x11'' mat

  • Inventory# IM-4864