TEXT FROM THE OPENING OF NONE.

(Central or Northern France, probably Bourges, early 16th century). 191 x 133 mm. (7 1/2 x 5 1/4"). Single column, 23 lines of text on one side, five lines below the miniature on the other, in a fine, large bâtarde hand.

Rubrics in red, several initials, line fillers, and a paragraph mark in brushed gold on a red or blue ground, two two-line initials with floral decoration in colors on a brushed gold ground, one four-line initial in gray and maroon with white tracery on a brushed gold ground, its center with a spray of red berries, and A LARGE MINIATURE OF THE PRESENTATION IN THE TEMPLE (measuring 112 x 91 mm.), with the Virgin kneeling before an altar and handing the Christ Child to the priest's waiting arms, Joseph and a young woman with the basket of sacrificial doves standing behind the Virgin at the head of a large crowd, the text and miniature enclosed by a simple gilt frame. Small faint brown stain to lower margin, two trivial patches of loss to paint of the priest's cloak, a touch of wrinkling to side margins, remnants of mounting to verso (not affecting text), otherwise A VERY FINE LEAF, clean and fresh, with ample margins and unusually rich colors.

This handsome leaf from a Book of Hours with large dimensions features an expressive miniature that beautifully conveys the drama of this moment in the life of the Virgin. Mary, dressed in somber gray covered by her customary blue cloak, kneels at the center of the scene, holding her son out in a gesture that is both offering and supplication to the priest (who may or may not be Simeon, with Luke 2:25-35 seeming to come down in favor of this). Her face displays the concern that would be expected in one who has just been told, in Simeon's prophecy, that a sword would pierce her soul--that is, that she will suffer along with her son as he does God's redemptive work. Simeon, in contrast, wears the gratified expression of one whose prayers to see the salvation of Israel have been fulfilled, as expressed in his canticle, the "Nunc dimittis" ("Now I can depart in peace"). A pretty, fashionably dressed young woman stands on the left holding a basket with two turtledoves brought as an offering (for those people not in a position to provide a lamb). Her green dress and crimson cloak mirror Simeon's vestments and the canopy above him, and, like the priest, she is wearing a striking hat. Everything is carefully detailed from the facial expressions to the folds of clothing to the decorative designs on the altar and dark gray walls. The scene is artfully composed and balanced, with a trio of somber blue and gray figures at center and vibrant red and green on either side, anxiety offset by faith and hope.
(ST12557)