A CHARMING ILLUMINATED VELLUM MANUSCRIPT CALENDAR LEAF WITH ZODIACAL AND LABOR OF THE MONTH MINIATURES, FROM A FRENCH BOOK OF HOURS.
TEXT FOR THE MONTH OF OCTOBER, IN FRENCH.(France, late, 15th century). 162 x 114 mm (6 3/8 x 4 1/2"). Single column, 16 lines of text in a fine gothic book hand.
Text of saints' days in alternating red or blue (special saints in gold), headings and numerals in burnished gold, five one-line initials in burnished gold on a red and blue ground, the usual "KL" at top left of recto in the form of gray and white acanthus leaves on a background of brushed gold, verso with quarter panel border featuring blue and gold acanthus leaves and sprays of blue or pink flowers on leafy stems, RECTO WITH A THREE-QUARTER BORDER of red and blue acanthus and various flowers on a brushed gold ground, THE LOWER PORTION WITH A MINIATURE OF A SCORPION (representing Scorpio, the Zodiac sign of the month), AND THE SECTION AT THE FORE EDGE WITH A MINIATURE SHOWING THE LABOR OF THE MONTH (sowing). A bit of browning right at fore edge on both sides, minor wrinkling to inner margin, otherwise IN FINE, BRIGHT CONDITION, with only the most trivial loss of pigment.
This very pleasing calendar leaf is extremely animated and altogether charming. The decoration is full of detail and brightness: the name of month, the numbers, and the major saints' days are all in gold, and all occurrences of "A" in the descending sequence of Dominical Letters appear enlarged and gilded. The style of painting is na´ve, but the leaf is nevertheless engaging and intriguing. The artist here has made excellent use of gold in the labor of the month miniature, where it appears as the bright rain of seeds being scattered into freshly ploughed furrows as well as the leaves taking on their autumnal coloring on the trees in the background. We notice this in particular because the gold on this leaf is even a bit more glittering than on the others. The worker here is warmly dressed for the cool fall weather, and the contrast of the brown plowed earth to the green field behind it is appealing. (ST11786f)