Book of Hours Leaf c 1518 - The Nativity


Original leaf from a printed & beautifully hand-illuminated Book of Hours.  Twenty-eight lines of ruled Latin text, printed in red & black on animal vellum.(178 x 115mm – 7 x 4 ½’’) 

Initials illuminated by hand in gold, on grounds of blue or sepia with delicate gold penwork. The paneled surrounds are historiated or inhabited. Printed by Gilles Hardouyn & hand-painted with rich sumptuous colors in the workshop of Germain Hardouyn - brother of the printer & a highly skilled illuminator.  Paris (Use of Rome), c. 1518.

The full page illumination depicts the Nativity.

The scene is set in a stable with hole in roof, large gaping hole in back wall and a dirt floor strewn with rocks and grass. The haloed Virgin Mary, wearing deep blue robes, kneels before the radiant Christ child with her hands clasped in prayer. The ox and donkey kneel next to her gazing upon the Christ child. A haloed Joseph, wearing red robes, is seen through the door  on the right; through the crumbling wall in the back is the story of the Annunciation to the shepherds – one shepherd looking up to the sky with sheep in the background, the other arriving at the humble stable and looking inside.

The Three-line illuminated “D” opens the Hours of the Virgin – Hour of Prime:  “Deus…” (Incline unto my aid O God. O Lord make haste to help me…). 

Presented in an archival 14x11'' mat

  • Inventory Number: IM-11467
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