c 1474-75 Breviary Leaf - Christmas Day, Luke, Venerable Bede


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’’)

Six 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 Christmas Day. The two-line illuminated “D” through the two-line illuminated “I” begins Isaiah 19: 14-17: “Dominus miscuit…” ( The Lord hath mingled in the midst thereof the spirit of giddiness…).

The second two-line illuminated “I” begins Luke 1:26-27: “In illo tempore. Missus est Gabriel…” (And at that time the Angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary).  

The two-line illuminated “E” begins a homily on Luke, Chapter 2, by the Venerable  Bede “Exordium nostre redemtionis fratres charissimi…”.  St. Bede (c. 673-735) was an English Benedictine monk and first English historian. His Historica Ecclesiastica is the single most valuable source for the history of the period.

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-12811