(Northern France, perhaps Rouen: ca. 1450). 178 x 133 mm. (7 x 5 1/4"). Single column, 16 lines of text in a very pleasing gothic book hand.

Attractively matted. Rubrics in red, leaves with varying numbers of one-line initials in burnished gold on blue or pink backgrounds and with line fillers in the same colors and gold, EACH LEAF WITH AT LEAST ONE TWO-LINE FOLIATED INITIAL in blue and pink on a ground of burnished gold, AND WITH A SWIRLING QUARTER PANEL BORDER of hairline stems terminating in colorful flowers and berries and many burnished gold ivy leaves (one leaf with a panel border on both sides). IN EXTRAORDINARILY FINE CONDITION, the gold glistening like new.

These leaves come from a manuscript thought to be done by, or in the style of, the so-called Fastolf Master, who studied in Paris under the Bedford Master and then worked mostly in Rouen during the second quarter of the 15th century. The artist takes his name from the illustrations of Christine de Pisan's "Epistre Othéa," done for Sir John Fastolf (d. 1459), the English mercenary captain during the 100 Years War, who, in spite of his appearance as a buffoon in Shakespeare's historical plays under the name of Falstaff, clearly had a fine, discriminating taste in books. Given the remarkable condition of these leaves, it's clear that he (and subsequent owners) treated the manuscript from which they came as a precious object to be protected rather than to be used.
(ST11719)