c 1460 Book of Hours Leaf - David in Prayer, Flanders


Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Book of Hours. Red-ruled for 17 lines of text, written in Latin with dark brown ink in lettre bâtarde script on animal vellum. (97 x 73mm – 3 7/8 x 2 7/8’’)

One two-line illuminated initial and nine one-line illuminated initials in gold, on blue and red ground, with delicate white tracery. Flanders (Bruges), c. 1460.

The seven-line miniature painting  (verso) depicts David in Prayer – in the style of Willem Vrelant. David, a great, noble king – was also as great a sinner & the perfect model penitent. He is  dressed in rich robes and kneels in prayer with his hat on the ground in front of him. David directs his appeal for forgiveness to God in heaven - golden rays emanating downward through the open window.

This leaf continues the Penitential Psalms. The one-line illuminated  “I” (recto) continues Psalm 31 (King James 32) 8-11: “Intellectum…” (I will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in this way, in which thou shalt go: I will fix my eyes upon thee…Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just, and glory, all ye right of heart. 

The  two-line illuminated “D” (next to the miniature painting, verso) begins Psalm 37 (KJ 38) “Domine…” (Rebuke me not, O Lord, in thy indignation; nor chastise me in thy wrath.  For thy arrows are fastened in me: and thy hand hath been strong upon me).

This is a tiny gem of a leaf with remarkable detail and crisp execution - undoubtedly commissioned for a lady. 

Willem Vrelant was one of the most prolific, influential, and commercially successful illuminators working in Bruges during the third quarter of the 1400s. He moved from his home in Utrecht to Bruges sometime before 1454. A receipt for payment confirms that Vrelant illuminated a lavish historical manuscript for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy in 1468.

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat

  • Inventory# IM-13047