c 1450-75 Book of Hours Calendar Leaf for April


Original leaf from a manuscript Book of Hours. 17 lines of red ruled text written in French on animal vellum. (168 x 125mm – 6 5/8  x 4 7/8’’) 

The panel borders contain a highly decorative floral design with flowers (including columbinessymbol of the Holy Spirit), berries and acanthus leaves in blue, red, green, pink, and burnished gold. Major feast days are in gold, blue or red (origin of term ‘red-letter day’). Large “KL” initials (for KALENDS) are in blue with white tracery on a burnished gold ground with floral interior.                           

France , c. 1450-75.

The miniature painting, recto, depicts the Labor of the Month – Planting.  The miniature painting, verso, depicts the Astrological symbol of Taurus (according to the fifteenth century calendar).

Among the feasts days listed are:  St. Ambrose (4th), St. Hugh – bishop of Rouen (9th), St. Valerian (14th ), St. George  (23rd ), St. Mark the Evangelist (25th), and St. Eutropius Bishop of Saintes (30th).

Left of the saints’ days are repeating letters A - G called Dominical Letters since they help find Sundays. Far left is a column of Roman numerals i - xix called Golden Numbers to indicate appearances of new moons, & counting ahead 14 days, full moons throughout the year (year + 1; divide by 19; remainder is Golden Number - if zero GN = 19). Finally: each month had 3 fixed points: Kalends (1st day) Ides (middle) & Nones (9th day before Ides). All days in between were counted backwards from these points.

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat

  • Inventory# IM-12787