TEXT FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE LITANY.

(Bruges: ca. 1490). 104 x 99 mm. (5 3/4 x 3 7/8"). Verso with 14 lines in a gothic book hand.

Several one-line initials and line fillers in painted gold on blue or magenta ground, one two-line initial in green on blue ground, WITH A HALF-PAGE MINIATURE SHOWING NUMEROUS HALOED SAINTS SURROUNDED BY A FULL BORDER featuring a plethora of different flowers, berries, greenery, numerous songbirds and owls, all ON A RICHLY PAINTED GOLD GROUND. One face rather chipped (with features affected), border with a hint of darkening, otherwise a charming, bright, and colorful leaf with only trivial defects.

This appealing and unusual leaf features a particularly lovely border as well as a miniature opening the Litany, a section of the Book of Hours not typically illustrated. The central figure can be identified as St. Stephen, the proto-martyr of the Christian Church, stoned to death for blasphemy after denouncing Jewish authorities. He wears a pink robe with an unusually bright yellow overlay, the instruments of his martyrdom in one hand and an open tome in the other. The two other easily identifiable saints are Catherine, with her wheel worn around her neck, and Lawrence, who holds the gridiron upon which he was tortured over hot coals. The full border here is particularly delightful and exuberant, featuring a veritable garden of flowers and fruit, with no fewer than 12 birds perched within it. The present painting is almost never seen in anything except a Book of Hours with a very large program of miniatures.
(ST14354)