Late 15th-Century French Renaissance "Book of Hours" Miniature Illuminations
Appraised Value: $10,000 - $15,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: ()
Books & Manuscripts
Senior Vice President & International Department Head of Printed Books and Manuscripts
GUEST: I collect a lot of religious things and they were a gift from a priest friend. I think they're French manuscripts from illuminated pages. Probably, my guess is from the 1400s, mid-1400s. That's just my guess. And they would be tempera.
GUEST: Tempera paint. That's all I really know about them.
APPRAISER: Well, you're pretty darn close there. What you have here are little paintings. They were part of a larger book called the Book of Hours. The Book of Hours is a devotional book for laypeople. And it was kind of following a monastic form of prayer and life. And the reason you can tell that it's from a book, is if you look closely at these corners you get these slight archways.
APPRAISER: And that means there would have been a little more and a border, an elaborate border, most likely would have surrounded each of these scenes. And then they would have been interleaved within the texts and the prayers of this devotional book. The Book of Hours was the most popular book of the day. And it's name has to do with the original form, which included lists of the appropriate texts for each of the liturgical hour of the day when you would say your prayers.
APPRAISER: And what you have here are two scenes-- very important scenes. And each Book of Hours is very different. Both because they're uniquely hand-painted, and also they might contain more or less the number of illustrations. The number can range pretty dramatically. This one is the death of the Virgin. And here's the Blessed Virgin here on her deathbed surrounded by the apostles. And then this scene is Christ entering into Jerusalem the beginning of Holy Week. And what's interesting here, and we see this quite a bit, is you can tell this manuscript is from Europe, because this kind of castle in the background. They are French. Indeed, you were right. They are from the 15th century. Probably later 15th century, 1475, something like that. And they are of high quality. You do get an occasional little bit of rubbing or wear and a lot of times this is because they were devotional. They were either touched or rubbed or sometimes even kissed, because they were sacred images. They are in still good condition. And the painting is quite fine, and the details of the faces especially are good. A good artist worked on these. They are quite valuable and collectible in today's market. And at auction, I would estimate each of these at $5,000 to $7,000. Combined value being $10,000 to $15,000 auction estimate.
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