TEXT FROM THE HOURS OF THE CROSS (MATINS).

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

Rubrics in red, two two-line initials painted pink on blue ground with flowers, verso WITH A HALF-PAGE MINIATURE SHOWING CHRIST WITH THREE DISCIPLES SURROUNDED BY A FULL BORDER featuring a plethora of different flowers, berries, greenery, songbirds, two owls, and a snail, all ON A RICHLY PAINTED GOLD GROUND, recto with a border on one side, featuring intertwining flowers and a bird on a pink ground. Border with a few small areas of rubbing or fading, Christ's face as well as one of the disciple's slightly chipped (but the features intact), a few minor blemishes on the verso, but overall a fine leaf, colorful, bright, and very pleasing to the eye.

This leaf--full of somber content but delightful aesthetic qualities--features a particularly exuberant border with tangles of flowers, fruit, acanthus leaves, several birds, and even a small snail. The central miniature depicts the Agony in the Garden, a scene from the life of Christ said to have occurred just after the Last Supper. In the foreground sit three sleeping apostles--Peter, James, and John--and slightly higher in the picture plane is a kneeling Christ, praying before the image of a chalice. The colors chosen by the artist are quite vibrant and feature an unusually bright yellow for the robes of one of the apostles and lilac for the robes of Christ. This leaf has some additional interest on the verso, with another bright border in the outer margin, painted an intense pink and filled with more flowers and a small bird. These kinds of borders, approaching an illusionistic style, were a specialty of Flemish artists of this period. The present leaf, with its teeming, richly gold border, is a particularly fine example of the excellent work coming out of this region at the end of the 15th century.
(ST14355)