c 1450 Book of Hours Calendar Leaf for April


Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Book of Hours. 17 lines of  red ruled text on animal vellum; written in French on animal vellum (162 x 118mm - 6.5 x 4.7").

 Major feast days are in red (origin of term ‘red-letter day’). Large illuminated ''KL'' initials (abbreviation for KALENDS) are in white on gold ground. Quarter-page panel border contains an intricate floral motif of acanthus leaves & flowers in temperas & brushed gold. This border is similar to the Playfair Hours (V & A Museum #L.475-1918).            

Northern France, c. 1450.

Painted illuminations show the labor of the month (picking flowers) and (verso) the zodiacal sign for the month (as per the calendar in 1450) of Taurus. Among the Saints listed are: Pancras (3rd), Ambrose (4th – Patron Saint of bee keepers), Alexander (8th), George (23rd - Patron Saint of England), Mark the Evangelist (25th), Vitalis (28th), Peter of Milan (29th), and Eutropius (30th).

To the left of the list of saints’ days are repeating series of letters A - G called Dominical Letters since they help find Sundays (after many appropriate calculations). At the far left is an odd 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 14x11'' mat.

  • Inventory# IM-1471