c 1474-75 Breviary Leaf - Feast of the Nativity


Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Breviary.  31 lines written in Latin in double columns with dark brown and red ink on animal vellum.(183 x 135mm – 7 3/8 x 5 ¼’’)

Eight two-line illuminated initials alternating in red and white or blue and white, with a floral or geometric interior - all on a burnished gold ground, many extending into the margin with a delicate rinceaux border in red, blue, green, yellow burnished gold. 

France (Use of Autun), c. 1474-75.

This leaf continues prayers for the Feast of the Nativity. The two-line illuminated “A” begins Luke 3:1-2: “Anno quinto…” (Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee,…Under the  high priests Annas and Calphas; the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zachary, in the desert).

The two-line illuminated “R”  begins a homily on Luke by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1226-74)  “Redemptioris precursor quo tempore verbum…”. 

Provenance:  from a Breviary written for the Use of Autun c. 1474-75; property of the descendants of Sir William Forbes, 6th Baronet of Pitsligo (1739-1806) from the Library at Fettercairn House, Kindardineshire; sold at Sotheby’s London Dec 2016, subsequently dispersed.

A Breviary is composed of many books (prayers, hymns, psalms...) painstakingly but carefully written by hand, and used by monks and priests to conduct their daily services.  The painted and illuminated manuscript is among the greatest artistic triumphs of the Middle Ages, demonstrating social, intellectual, religious and cultural attitudes of medieval life.

Shipped unmatted

  • Inventory# IM-12813