Original leaf from a manuscript Book of Hours. 24 lines of text, ruled in red, written in Latin in elegant angular gothic book-hand script on animal vellum. Rubrics in red. (178 x 125mm – 7 x 5’’)
One three-line illuminated initial in red and white with a floral infill on a gold ground; One two-line illuminated initial, six one-line illuminated initials and three illuminated line-extenders in liquid gold on red or blue ground. Unusual vibrant and elaborate panel borders in colorful floral motif in red, green, blue and white on gold ground.
France: Rouen, (Use of Rouen) c. 1470-90.
The genealogical tree traces the ancestry of Jesus “A shoot…from the stump of Jesse” (Isaiah 11:1). The Prophets are Jesus’ spiritual ancestors and the Kings his earthly ones. The miniature painting depicts 12 kings and prophets. Some are praying, some have their hands raised, extended or pointing, and many are looking up at the Blessed Virgin Mary who cradles the infant Christ child in the blossom of the flower whose root extends from Jesse’s chest. Jesse is sleeping on a grassy hill, his head supported by his hand.
Miniature painting of the Tree of Jesse is highly unusual iconography for a manuscript Book of Hours and even more rare for the subject to be devoted to an entire page. Where the subject is included it is more often within the border around the Annunciation. The single instance of this subject in the entire Walters Art Gallery collection is found in the margin.
This leaf opens the Hours of the Virgin – Hour of Matins. The three-line illuminated “D” begins: “Domine…” (Thou O Lord wilt open my lips…). The two-line illuminated “V” begins Psalm 94 (King James 95) 1-3: “Venite…” (Come let us rejoice unto our Lord…).