Original continuous bifolium leaves (two leaves – four pages) from a French medieval illuminated manuscript Book of Hours. 13 lines of hand-ruled text written in Latin with dark brown ink in fine lettre bâtarde script on animal vellum. One two-line illuminated initial in burnished gold on red and blue ground; the ¼ border is a colorful floral motif on liquid gold ground.
Origin: Paris, France circa 1500.
This is the center pair of leaves from a signature, thus the text is continuous from the recto of the first leaf to the verso, then to the recto of the second leaf and finally to its verso. Scarce, because that can only happen on the center bifolium. The two joined leaves impart the feeling and appearance of an open medieval book !
Size (each leaf): 110 x 75mm – 4.25 x 2.9 inches, from a diminutive manuscript likely written for a lady. Overall size is 4.25 x 5.8 inches.
The two-line illuminated “S” begins the popular medieval hymn Stabat Mater Dolorosa:
“(At the Cross her station keeping, stood the mournful Mother weeping, close to Jesus to the last. Through her heart, His sorrow sharing, all His bitter anguish bearing, now at length the sword has passed. O how sad and sore distressed was that Mother, highly blest, of the sole-begotten One. Christ above in torment hangs, she beneath beholds the pangs of her dying glorious Son. Is there one who would not weep, whelmed in miseries so deep, Christ's dear Mother to behold? Can the human heart refrain from partaking in her pain, in that Mother's pain untold? Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled, she beheld her tender Child All with bloody scourges rent: For the sins of His own nation, saw Him hang in desolation, Till His spirit forth He sent. O thou Mother! fount of love! Touch my spirit from above, make my heart with thine accord: Make me feel as thou hast felt; make my soul to glow and melt with the love of Christ my Lord. Holy Mother! pierce me through, in my heart each wound renew of my Savior crucified: Let me share with thee His pain, ho for all my sins was slain, who for me in torments died…).”
Provenance: ex-collection of Brooklyn Museum of Art, acquired in 1919. Deaccessioned and sold to support the museum collection.