AN ILLUMINATED VELLUM MANUSCRIPT LEAF WITH A SMALL MINIATURE OF THE MADONNA AND CHILD, FROM A BOOK OF HOURS IN LATIN.
TEXT FROM THE OPENING OF "OBSECRO TE."(Paris, ca. 1460). 121 x 89 mm (4 3/4 x 3 1/2"). Single column, 15 lines of text on verso and 12 on recto, in a fine, regular gothic book hand.
Attractively matted. Recto with a line filler in colors and gold, verso with a two-line blue initial decorated with delicate white tracery and enclosing two charming blue and scarlet flowers on a curling tendril, the whole on a burnished gold ground, recto of the leaf with an animated quarter panel border of flowers and other vegetation and many burnished gold ivy leaves on hairline stems, the verso with a three-quarter panel border of similar design, though more lavish (and with a vertical bar border of red, blue, and burnished gold between the text and the border in the fore margin); verso also WITH A SMALL AND EXTREMELY CHARMING MINIATURE (measuring approximately 25 x 32 mm.) OF THE MADONNA AND CHILD. Except for naturally occurring minor wrinkling, IN ESPECIALLY FINE CONDITION.
In this remarkably well-preserved leaf, the Virgin, dressed according to tradition in pink and blue, sits with a playful and energetic Christ Child on her lap. The Blessed Mother is seated on a green tessellated floor which recedes convincingly in space, with blue panelled doors opening behind her to reveal a red and gold patterned tapestry. The face of the Christ Child is convincingly infantile here, but his slender body prefigures his manhood, a Medieval artistic convention suggesting that Our Lord possessed all the wisdom of an adult from the time of his birth. His golden-haired mother sits on the ground, a pose which conveyed her exemplary humility to the late Medieval mind. The "Obsecro Te" is a prayer to the Virgin, begging for her aid. Frequently used in Books of Hours, the prayer may be accompanied, as here, by a scene of the Virgin cuddling her child or by a Pieta. (ST11459-19)