"THROUGH CHRIST OUR LORD, YOUR SON, WHO LIVETH AND REIGNETH WITH THEE": RARE AND BEAUTIFUL ILLUMINATED LEAF FROM AN EARLY 15TH-CENTURY PARISIAN BOOK OF HOURS, FEATURING A HAND-COLORED IMAGE OF KING DAVID
(ILLUMINATED LEAF). Illuminated Leaf from a Book of Hours. Paris, France, circa 1420. Single vellum leaf (4-1/4 by 6 inches), illuminated in gold, black, white, gray, red, pink, green, blue, and brown inks; matted and window framed, measures 13-1/2 by 11 inches.
Extraordinary illuminated miniature from a Parisian Book of Hours, a beautiful hand-colored image depicting King David at prayer, most unusual with no text.
This beautiful illuminated miniature is from a Book of Hours from early 15th-century Paris, France. The miniature depicts the King David at prayer. No doubt part of a costly manuscript, and probably executed by the Master of Guy de Laval or an artist who worked closely with him, this leaf survives with all of its considerably original vibrancy, delicacy, and charm. The master in question takes his name from the exquisite Book of Hours he created for the Duke de Laval, but was formerly known as the Guise Master for the book he produced (with artistic assistance) for François de Guise. The composition shares several similarities with a Book of Hours attributed to the Master of Guy de Laval that sold recently at Sotheby's. Both images depict a crowned David on his knees and in prayer (with similar posture, crown, and relationship to a foreground rock). His traditional harp is off to one side, forgotten as he gazes up at God the Father. Here, God is surrounded by red seraphim. This miniature contains a particularly lovely detail not present in the other: numerous streaks of gold emanating from God above, their brilliance reflected on David's face and on the surfaces of the trees and rocks. The present miniature is notably skillful in terms of craftsmanship and attention to detail, with a particularly adept use of color. The agility seen in the application of paint is impressive, as the delicacy in the faces and hands is memorable. It is easy to see an aesthetic here in line with the celebrated Boucicaut Master and his circle, at work during the first two decades of the 15th century. There is nothing below the miniature here because the facing page would almost certainly have begun the text for the Seven Penitential Psalms, and that page would probably have included a large capital and a full border matching the one we see. The border is rendered delicately with black sprays leading to green and gilt leaves and multicolored flowers. as well as a large three-line "D" in white filigree with enclosed blue flowers and leaves, all against a burnished gold ground. The verso features 13 lines of bold Latin Gothic script from the Prayer to One's Own Guardian Angel, said at Suffrage, and two one-line initials in gold on a blue and brown filigree ground.
Minor soiling to leaf. A rare stand-alone, text-less miniature in near-fine condition.