A Book of Hours leaf - heraldry for Helene de Fonseque


Original leaf from a medieval manuscript Book of Hours. 16 lines of red-ruled text, written in Latin with dark brown ink in gothic script on animal vellum.(179 x 127mm – 7 x 5 1/8’’) 

One illuminated three-line initial in blue & white on burnished gold ground with floral infill. Elaborate panel borders contain a highly decorative floral design with flowers, berries (including strawberries – symbol of perfect righteousness) & acanthus leaves in blue, red, green, pink, burnished and brushed gold.

Western France (Poitou?), c. 1470.  Provenance: From a Book of Hours presented by Count Claude de Fonsèque to his sister Countess Hélène de Fonsèque de Seguères.  Formerly in the collection of Allen Rowland – on deposit at the Beinecke Library, Yale.

The coat-of-arms centered in the lower border was added to the leaf for Countess Hélène de Fonsèque de Seguères, probably in 1502, the year she received the book as a gift.  The upper left and lower right “quarters” show the design (silver and red fusilly) of the husband of the Countess de Fonsèque, Phillippe de Barbézières.  The upper right and lower left “quarters” represent the Countess’ heritage, that of the houses of Fonseca (five gold stars on red ground), de Seguères (a crowned lion on red ground), Clermont (two crossed keys with a gold crown on red ground and an unidentified coat.

The three-line “O” begins one of the most popular prayers of the Middle-Ages, the Obsecro Te: (I beseech the, Lady Holy Mary, Mother of God…in which thy spirit rejoiced at that hour when the Son of God was announced to thee by the Archangel Gabriel…)

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat

  • Inventory Number: IM-12717