(France: second half of 13th century). 90 x 65 mm. (3 1/2 x 2 1/2"). Single column, 12 lines in a pleasing gothic book hand.

Rubrics in red, each leaf with multiple one-line gilt initials on blue or gold ground and line endings with gold squares surrounded by pink and blue bars highlighted with white pigment, many leaves with at least one two-line initial similarly decorated, EIGHT LEAVES WITH A FIVE- TO SIX-LINE INHABITED INITIAL, the initial painted blue or pink and filled with burnished gold, on contrasting dark pink or blue ground, each with spikey ascender or descender terminating in a curl with gold bezant. Vellum a bit toned and soiled, gilt a little rubbed (somewhat more noticeable on the gilt infill of large initials), occasional small stains or smudges and other isolated minor blemishes, faces in some inhabited initials rather rubbed, and a couple extenders slightly trimmed, but on the whole the leaves still very pretty, the paint quite bright, and the charm still there.

The present leaves probably come from a Psalter-Hours, a personal prayer book that eventually gave way to the Book of Hours, the manuscript companion that would become the vehicle of choice for personal devotions during the late Middle Ages. Although measuring only 90 mm. tall, these leaves contain a surprising amount of illumination, including eight examples with large inhabited initials that take up more than a quarter of the written space on the page. One particularly nice example shows Christ in Majesty holding a sphere, while the others depict various figures kneeling in prayer in front of pedestalled surfaces. These figures, as well as the decoration, bear a significant resemblance to Walters MS W. 40--described as a Book of Hours executed in the third quarter of the 13th or early 14th century by the Bari Atelier--with multiple initials depicting people in prayer as here, as well as with a similar depiction of Christ in Majesty. It seems impossible to say for certain that the Bari Atelier was responsible for our leaves as well, but the similarities do help to substantiate an approximate date and locale, and to provide an intriguing possibility for further research.

75-125 each for leaves with small illuminated initials ; $600-1500 each for leaves with large inhabited initials (depending on condition)

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PJP Catalog: RCVF20.001