Illuminated Miniatures of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist on a Leaf from a c.1500 Book of Hours. ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT LEAF.
Illuminated Miniatures of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist on a Leaf from a c.1500 Book of Hours
Illuminated Miniatures of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist on a Leaf from a c.1500 Book of Hours
Illuminated Miniatures of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist on a Leaf from a c.1500 Book of Hours
Illuminated Miniatures of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist on a Leaf from a c.1500 Book of Hours

Illuminated Miniatures of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist on a Leaf from a c.1500 Book of Hours

"Reveal Thyself, we pray, O God omnipotent, so that Thy household may walk the path to salvation, and, by following the exhortation of the blessed John, precursor of Christ, may reach him of whom he with certainly foretold, through the Lord."

MANUSCRIPT LEAF (FRANCE, C.1500) DEPICTING BOTH ST JOHN THE BAPTIST AND ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST.

From the Suffrages to Saints section of a circa fifteenth-century French Book of Hours, these consecutive appeals to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist capture a moment of personal devotion to two foremost figures in Western European medieval artistry.

The two miniatures depict their respective saints in natural settings with halos, and both figures are edged in gold. John the Baptist, bearded, is seen in his cilice and draped in a burgundy robe—holding his traditional attribute of a lamb and flag. On the reverse, John the Evangelist stands with a chalice from which emerges winged dragon. A substantial three-quarter border of liquid gold on each side of the folio contains multitudes of foliage among acanthus leaves; with the recto displaying a winged drollery sticking out its tongue. Both miniatures are framed by realistic gold borders of their own.

In a distinctive late gothic hand, this manuscript excerpt is penned with particular care as evidenced by multiple broken strokes—such as the tops of each letter in “hominumque”.

Deriving its liturgical phraseology from Mathew 11:11, the prayer to John the Baptist begins, “Inter natos mulierum non surrexit maior iohannes baptista,” and continues, in full, to the verso's eighth line. At this point, the prayer to John the Evangelist is readily identified by the vivid blue inscription (“De sancta Iohannes Evangelista”)—alternating colours from the deep rubric of the preceding incipit for John the Baptist (“De sancto Iohannes Baptista”) on the recto. The suffrages to the saints John are preceded by what is likely an Oratio ad proprium angelum custodem (Prayer to one’s guardian angel), included in the complete transcription below.

Size of leaf: 105 x 160 mm (6.3 x 4.1 inches)

Size of John the Baptist miniature: 36 x 41 mm (1.4 x 1.6 inches)

Size of John the Evangelist miniature: 36 x 37 mm (1.4 x 1.5 inches)

France, c.1500. Some rubbing toward the fore-edge of the borders, likely from thumbing. Short closed vertical tear on bottom margin center. All text is clear and legible; illumination on miniatures and capitals is bright and radiant. Housed in a custom presentation folder. Overall, a well-preserved depiction of two major Christian namesakes.

Transcription (Semi-Diplomatic):

Deus qui mirro ordine angelorum ministeria hominumq[ue] dispensas. concede propicius: ut qui tibi ministrantibus in celo semp[er] assistitur ab hijs in terra vita n[ost]ra muniatur. Per [christu]m d[omi]n[u]m n[ost]r[u]m. A[men]:

De sancto iohanne bap[tis]ta

INter natos mulierum no[n] surrexit maior ioha[n]ne bap[tis]ta.

V[ersiculum]. Fuit homo missus a deo.
R[espondum]. Cui nome[n] erat ioh[ann]es

{f. 1v} Presta quesumus omnipotens deus: vt familia tua per viam salutis incedat et beati iohannis precursorris [christ]i hortamenta sectando ad eum quem predixit secura perueniat. Per d[omi]n[u]m.

De s[an]c[t]o ioh[ann]e euangelista:

IOha[n]nes apostolus et eua[n]gelista virgo electus es[t] a domino atq[ue] inter ceteros magis dilectus.

V[ersiculus]. Valde honorandus est beatus ioha[n]nes.
R[esponsorium] Qui supra pectus do {end of leaf; probable ending of the Response: “dominus in cena recubuit.”}

[O God, who has arranged in marvellous order ministries of angels and of men, mercifully grant that, as those who do Thee service in heaven, so, by Thy grace, they may too defend our life on earth. Through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

On St. John the Baptiste:

Among those born of woman none has arisen greater than John the Baptist.

Versicle: He was a man sent by God.
Response: Whose name was John.

Reveal Thyself, we pray, O God omnipotent, so that Thy household may walk the path to salvation, and, by following the exhortation of the blessed John, precursor of Christ, may reach him of whom he with certainly foretold, through the Lord.

On Saint John the Evangelist:

John the Apostle and the Evangelist, a virgin, was chosen by the Lord and more beloved by others.

Versicle: Loudly praised is the blessed John to be.
Response: He who {at the Last Supper laid} on the breast of the Lord]
.

Price: $3,700 .

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