Original leaf from a manuscript Book of Hours. Ruled in red for 24 lines of text, written in Latin in angular gothic book-hand script on animal vellum.(178 x 125mm – 7 x 5’’)
Rubrics in red. One three-line illuminated initial in red and white with a floral interior on a gold ground and one one-line illuminated initial in liquid gold on red or blue ground.
Unusual vibrant and elaborate borders in colorful floral and geometric motif (including strawberries – symbol of perfect righteousness) in red, green, blue and white on gold ground.
France: Rouen, (Use of Rouen) c. 1470-90.
The three-quarter miniature painting (verso) depicts The Three Living and Three Dead. This “Memento Mori” theme was popular in 15th century France. The painting shows three elegantly dressed young men on rearing and shying white and brown horses as they are met on the stony road by three corpses, in varying stages of decay; a tall gold cross on round stepped base stands between the groups. Landscaped hills and towns are in the background. The gesturing and pointing corpses warn the three: “We were once as you are now and what we are you soon will be”.
This leaf opens the Office of the Dead, Hour of Vespers. The three-line illuminated “D” opens Psalm 114 (King James 115): “Dilexi…” (I have loved, because the Lord will hear the voice of my prayer…).