FROM A SMALL PSALTER-HOURS IN LATIN, WITH IMMENSELY CHARMING MARGINALIA.

(France: first half of 14th century). 110 x 82 mm. (4 3/8 x 3 1/4"). Single column, 12 lines in a gothic book hand.

Line enders in pink and blue with gold accents, each leaf with one or more one-line initials in blue with red penwork or gold with blue penwork, one leaf with a two line initial painted blue and filled with a coat of arms, all on a gold or blue ground, one side of each leaf with A FULL OR NEAR-FULL BORDER composed of pink and blue tendrils accompanied by spikey gold decoration and gold accents, often terminating in ivy leaves, and incorporating EXTRAORDINARILY CHARMING EXAMPLES OF MARGINALIA, INCLUDING ANIMALS, HUMANS, AND HYBRIDS. Vellum a little soiled and lightly stained in places, both leaves with some noticeable rubbing (one leaf with a piece of marginalia partially rubbed, the other with fore margin decoration wiped away), but each with two excellent examples of the marginalia intact and still very well preserved.

Though diminutive in size, these leaves contain enormously appealing marginal decoration in the form of humans, animals, and hybrid creatures inventively incorporated into the lively borders in manners that range from adorable to bizarre. Especially popular in Flanders, Northern France, and England during the 13th and 14th centuries, marginalia such as these comprise some of the most memorable and entertaining images to be found in any Medieval manuscripts. Despite being found largely in religious books such as Psalters and Books of Hours, the images are often strange, humorous, or even outrageous, and they provide us with consistent delight. Being by definition outside of the central text or miniature, the margins seem to have been a place where illuminators felt more at ease to experiment, resulting in highly imaginative and unique artistic expressions. The present specimens come from a fragmentary manuscript, with many leaves either missing or rendered defective where portions of the vellum were cut away. Fortunately, this group of leaves is intact and retains much marvelous imagery, including a hybrid with the head of a human wearing chainmail armor with the long neck and hind legs of a beast, a large stork reaching for a gold bezant, a woman emerging from the border decoration with hands held in prayer, and a hybrid creature incorporated into the spiky gold border, with the head of a bird, a long beak and neck, and two hind legs. For additional leaves from this same manuscript at different price points, please check our website.
(ST16985K)