Adoration of the Magi - Book of Hours Leaf, c 1450-75


Original leaf from a manuscript Book of Hours. 15 lines of hand-ruled text written in Latin on animal vellum in brown ink with rubrics in red.(184 x 125mm – 7 ¼ x 4 7/8’’) 

One four-line historiated initial in blue, red & white with an internal painting on burnished gold,  two two-line initials, seven one-line illuminated initials & seven illuminated line-extenders in burnished gold on red & blue ground with delicate white penwork.

France (Anjou), Use of Angers, c. 1450-75.

The elaborate full border (recto) is a dense floral motif in red, blue, pink, green, liquid & burnished gold, with one amusing drollery with bow & arrow aimed at bird in flight, and the ghost of another dragon-like drollery is evident in the lower margin. Panel border (verso) contains a highly decorative floral design with flowers, berries, & acanthus leaves in blue, red, green, pink, & burnished gold.  

The historiated initial depicts The Adoration of the Magi. The three Magi appear with gifts in hand. Mary holds the Christ Child whose arms are outstretched as if accepting the gift of the kneeling Magus. The Star of in the East which brought the three kings is shown in the sky.

The historiated “D” begins: “Deus…” (Incline unto my aid O God….).

The two-line illuminated “A” begins Psalm 122 (King James 123) complete:  “Ad te…” (To thee have I lifted up my eyes, who dwellest in heaven…).

Angers was the cradle of the Plantagenet dynasty and one of the intellectual centers of Europe during the reign of Rene of Anjou, (1434-80). When this leaf was scribed the two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty, House of Lancaster & House of York, were engaged in the War of the Roses.

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat

  • Inventory Number: IM-12538