Original leaf 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 with rubrics in red. One two-line illuminated initial in blue with an internal floral design in blue, pink and white – all on a burnished gold ground. The text, recto, is surrounded by an intricate floral border (including strawberries – symbol of perfect righteousness) in red, blue, green on a liquid gold ground. One five-line miniature painting (verso) of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Christ Child.
Origin: Paris, France circa 1500.
Size: 110 x 75mm – 4.25 x 2.9 inches, from a diminutive manuscript likely written for a lady.
The miniature painting depicts Mary dressed in blue her hands clasped with those of the Christ Child sitting on her lap. Above the landscape behind them is seen part of the Holy Cross - a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice in the Christ Child’s future.
This leaf concludes the Fourth Gospel Lesson – Mark 16: 17-20: “Signa autem…” (And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover…). The text next to the miniature begins the Obsecro Te – a popular medieval prayer: “Obsecro te domina…” (I Beseech thee, Lady Holy Mary, Mother of God, most full of piety…).
Provenance: ex-collection of Brooklyn Museum of Art, acquired in 1919. Deaccessioned and sold to support the museum collection.