(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.

Rubrics in red, 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, each leaf with one two-line initial painted pink or blue, four of these INHABITED BY A HUMAN FACE, and the other with decorative vines, all on a gold ground, one side of each leaf with A 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 BEASTS, HUMANS ENGAGED IN VARIOUS ACTIVITIES, AND HUMAN-BEAST HYBRIDS. Vellum a little soiled, a few leaves with small stains (one touching text but not obscuring meaning), a few instances of light rubbing or chipping to decoration and marginalia, but on the whole these condition issues minor, and the leaves very well preserved WITH ESPECIALLY DESIRABLE MARGINALIA.

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 the torsos of various people emerging from bezants and tendrils: a woman pulling on two tangled ropes above her (perhaps meant to be the ropes of church bells?), another woman holding a long pole with an orange flag and spear at the top, a trumpeter with two faces--each blowing into a long instrument held in each of his hands, a man reaching up to grab onto a decorative initial, and a nun in a habit with the body of an orange-colored beast. Also included here are various human heads (some in unusual hats and cowls), the head of a beast with exceptionally long, gold antlers, another beast with long ears expelling a decorative ivy tendril from its mouth, and a creature with the head of a stork and the legs of a mammal with a long, bushy tail. Marginalia of this caliber and in the nice condition seen here are becoming increasingly rare on the market, making these examples particularly desirable. For additional leaves from this same manuscript at different price points, please check our website.

Price: $5,500.00