"MY MOUTH SHALL DECLARE THY PRAISE": STUNNING ILLUMINATED LEAF FROM A LATE 15TH-CENTURY DUTCH BOOK OF HOURS, FEATURING FOUR BEAUTIFUL HAND-COLORED MINIATURES, SOME OF UNUSUAL SUBJECTS—THE TREE OF JESSE, MARY AT THE LOOM, THE MARRIAGE OF THE VIRGIN AND JOSEPH, AND THE ANNUNCIATION
(ILLUMINATED LEAF). Illuminated Leaf from a Book of Hours. Southern Netherlands, late 15th-century. Single vellum leaf (5-1/2 by 7 inches), illuminated in gold, black, white, gray, red, pink, green, blue, and brown inks; matted and window framed, entire piece measures 11-1/2 by 13-1/2 inches.
Beautiful illuminated leaf from a Dutch Book of Hours, featuring four splendid miniatures depicting the Annunciation, as well as rare subjects including the Tree of Jesse (the lineage of Christ), Mary at the Loom, and the Marriage of the Virgin and Joseph, attractively framed.
This beautiful illuminated leaf is from a late 15th-century Dutch Book of Hours. The recto bears three lines from the beginning of the Hours of the Virgin (Matins); one three-line filigree and floriated initial on a gilt ground and one single-line gilt initial on a filigree ground; four elaborate miniatures depicting the Tree of Jesse, Mary at the Loom, the Marriage of the Virgin and Joseph, and the Annunciation; as well as intricate floral and acanthus leaf borders on a gilt ground. This leaf is quite unusual—beautifully executed, heavily gilt, and filled with activity. It also focuses on subjects not typically seen with the text of Matins. The largest miniature on the page is the Tree of Jesse, Christ's genealogical tree, with a young Mary and the Christ child at the center. The three other miniatures work together to create a story of Mary's life, from her youth weaving at a loom, to her marriage, to her ultimate role as the Mother of God. This intensely Marian leaf offers a clue as the identity of its original owner. This Book of Hours was likely a wedding present—as many were—particularly due to the presence of the Marriage of Mary and Joseph. The images suggest that the recipient had a particular Marian devotion, more common in young women of childbearing age. The quality of this leaf indicates a purchaser with both taste and means. The quality of the hand as well as the multiple miniatures and the presence of so much gilt indicates a high price and execution at a very accomplished and creatively minded workshop. The verso has 13 lines of similar script, four line extenders, two two-line initials, three one-line initials, and an elaborate four-sided border featuring flowers, leaves, and acanthus leaves.
A few tiny chips to paint not affecting overall presentation of the leaf. A most exceptional illuminated leaf.