USE OF SAINTES. TEXT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE DEAD
AN ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT LEAF ON VELLUM WITH A MINIATURE OF A FUNERAL, FROM A BOOK OF HOURS IN LATIN
Price: 4,500.00 USD
France [probably Paris]: ca. 1420. 210 x 146 mm. (8 1/4 x 5 3/4"). Single column, recto with five lines of text, verso with 16 lines, all in a very pleasing, very regular gothic book hand. Attractively matted. Rubrics in red, verso with seven one-line initials as well as three line fillers, all in colors and burnished gold, recto with a prominent six-line "D" in blue and white, the initial placed on a pink square with white tracery and with enclosed scrolling flowered stems on a burnished gold ground, the letter with wide gold bar extensions containing blue, red, and green flowers enclosing three sides of the text and miniature, the same side WITH A FULL BORDER of curling vines densely foliated with blue, red, and burnished gold leaves as well as pink and green flowers and fruit, and FEATURING A SOLEMN MINIATURE OF A FUNERAL SERVICE (measuring approximately 62 mm. square), the foreground of the scene dominated by the bier draped with a blue and gold pall and flanked by two gold candlesticks, behind it a bishop and two priests at a wooden lectern, a third priest on the left holding a censer, and on the right three mourners robed and hooded in black. A little light soil to the margins, significant fading and erosion to the blue and black paint, minor smudging, other insignificant defects, but still a pleasing leaf, the paint and gold in the magnificent border almost entirely intact. The sobriety of a miniature designed to inspire contemplation of one's mortality is balanced here by a vibrant border, its lavish use of lustrous burnished gold relieving the gloom of the scene. The black-robed mourners have no faces inside their black hoods, which gives them a very unsettling appearance, as if they were ghostly presences from the other side. The red lining of the cloak worn by the priest holding the censer provides the only touch of rich color in the scene. The gold-embroidered pall and heavy golden candlesticks imply a deceased of some stature--someone like the original owner of this book--reminding us that earthly riches are no defense against the angel of death.