Annunciation to Virgin Mary - Medieval Book of Hours Leaf


Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Book of Hours. 31 lines of red-ruled Latin text on animal vellum (220 x 140 mm - 8.8 x 5.6");  line endings in red & blue, with liquid gold.

One four-line illuminated initial in blue with white penwork on a sepia ground with gold penwork; one two-line and nine one-line illuminated initials in liquid gold on red or blue ground with delicate gold penwork. Elaborate panel border (verso) in acanthus & diverse floral motifs  (including a strawberry - symbol of perfect righteousness) in red, blue, green, white & liquid gold.   Some flaking of white pigment - particularly on the angel's robe.           

France (probably Paris), c. 1490-1500.

The leaf contains a miniature painting of The Annunciation. The Angel Gabriel, on bended knee, with red and green wings, dressed in a white robe and holding a gold scepter in left hand, appears before the Virgin Mary who is kneeling in prayer under a canopy of orange and gray drapes, with hands clasped behind an open book which rests on a prie-dieu draped with a gold cloth.  The Angel Gabriel points upward with his right hand to the Holy Spirit, in form of a white dove, who hovers above them emanating golden rays.

Surrounding the text and miniature is an elaborate floral border  with acanthus leaves in red, blue and green on a liquid gold ground.

The text opens the Hours of the Virgin - Hour of Matins: ''Domine...'' (Lord, Thou shalt open my lips. And my mouth shall sing thy praise. God, come to my assistance. Lord, hasten to help me...).  The two-line illuminated ''V'' begins Psalm 94 (King James 95) 1-10:  ''Venite...'' (Come let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our savior...).

A large and showy leaf with one of the most iconic images in a Book of Hours. Evidence of devotional use in the outer border and some flaking of white pigment - particularly on the angel's robe.  Presented in an archival 14x11'' mat.


  • Inventory Number: IM-11089