"HE THAT BELIEVETH AND IS BAPTIZED, SHALL BE SAVED": EXCEPTIONAL LARGE ILLUMINATED LEAF FROM A BELGIAN BOOK OF HOURS, CIRCA 1460, FEATURING A LOVELY MINIATURE OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST AND THE LION
(ILLUMINATED LEAF). Illuminated Leaf from a Book of Hours. Possibly Bruges, Belgium, circa 1460. Single vellum leaf (6-1/4 by 8-3/4 inches), illuminated in gold, black, white, gray, red, pink, green, orange, blue, and brown inks. Window matted and framed, entire piece measures 13 by 10 inches. $6700.
Lovely oversize illuminated leaf from a Belgian Book of Hours, circa 1460, featuring a small miniature of Saint Mark the Evangelist and the Lion; 19 lines of text from the Gospel Lessons; one two-line initial; and a handsome border.
This beautiful illuminated leaf is from a Book of Hours, likely from Bruges, Belgium, circa 1460. The recto comprises 19 lines from the beginning of the Gospel Lessons (St. Mark); a small, elaborate miniature of Saint Mark the Evangelist with the Lion; a two-line initial, and a handsome border. By the mid 14th century, the Gospel Lessons had become a standard feature in Books of Hours. They were most often accompanied by portraits of the Evangelists and their attributes. The Lessons—consisting of four short readings from each of the Gospels—would have often been the first section a medieval reader encountered as the Lessons immediately followed the introductory Calendar. Here, Mark is shown seated in some type of study or scriptorium in the act of writing. He is accompanied by his attribute, the lion. Although the basic imagery of this scene rarely varies, scholars like Roger Wieck have long noted how "the practices and equipment of medieval scribes are reflected in these miniatures" ("Time Sanctified," 55). The illustrator of this Book of Hours carefully depicts a writing surface with two inkwells attached to the saint's chair with metal clamps. Mark wields a stylus and works on a long scroll that flows over the writing service, heading for the floor. A red initial is just barely visible near the scroll's top edge. The miniature is deftly painted and highly detailed, revealing much about the life of medieval scribe through its composition. Saint Mark's surrounding in the miniature is vibrant and well-drawn, from the red tile floor to the multi-colored columns to the decorative tapestry. Also present on the recto is a two-line burnished gold "I" outlined in purple and blue. Rules along the left side lead to upper and lower borders of flowers, berries, acanthus leaves, and sprays. The verso is unadorned with 11 lines of text (completing the Gospel Lesson).
Slightest rubbing and soiling to leaf. Near-fine condition.