Richly Illuminated Psalter-Hours from French Flanders, ca. 1280, Made for a Nun


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Early Psalter-Hours Made for a Nun. Single folio on vellum. French Flanders, possibly Rhineland, ca. 1280: 179 mm x 137 mm (justification, 150 mm x 95 mm). Single column, 20 lines. Ruled in plummet. Unfoliated. Decoration: three handsome historiated initials on bright gold grounds. The first initial depicts Christ gesturing to a bearded male figure and illustrates Psalm 23, “Domini est terra et plenitudo.” The second is of a secular female figure illustrating the prayer, “Sancta maria virgo virginum.” The third, also depicting a woman, accompanies the prayer, “Sancta maria piarum piissima.” The letter S of this last historiated initial forms a winged dragon. Alternating blue and gold versal initials with contrasting penwork abound, and elaborate gold or penwork line-fillers, one featuring a fire-breathing dragon, appear throughout. Text: This folio comes from a well-known and well-documented manuscript, about 40 leaves of which have been traced. It seems to have been broken before 1983. One collect on an extant leaf states “famulam tuam abbatissam” (“your servant, the abbess”) indicating ownership by a nun. As more fragments appear, the convent will probably be recognized. Our fragment features Psalm 23 and ancillary texts from Matins in the Hours of the Virgin. On the manuscript, see Peter Kidd’s remarks at and Condition: light soiling and the initials creased with losses of gold as shown; one element trimmed. A handsome leaf from a lavish and very early manuscript known to have been made for a woman.

PRICE: $3600

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