• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7548

    Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books

    12 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 36


    Price Realised  


    [Italy, Emilia Romagna, c.1460s]
    270 x 205mm. i + 291 + i leaves, foliated in pencil on the first recto of each quire, 16, 29(of 10, lacking x), 3-1910, 209(of 10, lacking i), 21-2510, 269(of 10, lacking iv), 27-2910, 308, catchwords throughout, often in red, two columns of 29 lines in brown and dark brown ink written in a fine gothic bookhand in two sizes between four verticals ruled in plummet and 30 horizontals ruled in ink, justification: 170 x 130mm, music on three-line and four-line red staves (ff.102v, 106-111v, 121v-122, 124v-135, 138v-140), rubrics and major feasts in calendar in red, one-line initials alternately blue or red, one-line Signs of the Cross in gold, two-line initials (1,900 of them, according to a previous owner) alternately gold on a ground of red, green, and blue with white and/or yellow decoration, or in two shades of blue with white highlights on a gold ground, five-line foliate initials in colours and gold (ff.141v, 239, etc), ABOUT SEVENTY PARTIAL BORDERS, SOME INCORPORATING HUMAN FIGURES, BIRDS AND OTHER ANIMALS and semi-naturalistic foliage and flowers in colours and gold amid brown ink penwork scrolls, THREE FULL BORDERS INCORPORATING PUTTI, BIRDS, HUMAN FIGURES, ETC, THIRTY-FIVE HISTORIATED INITIALS, typically six-line, ONE SMALL MINIATURE at the start of the Canon, and ONE FULL-PAGE CANON MINIATURE (some offsetting of decoration from f.141v onto f.142, the canon more worn and dirtied than the rest of the manuscript, final few leaves creased, not affecting decoration). 18th- or 19th-century red velvet over pasteboards, each cover with five chased metal centre- and corner-pieces (edges, spine, and joints worn). Velvet-lined leather-covered box, lettered in gilt on the lid 'MISSALE ROMANUM M.SS. M.CCCC.' (extremely worn).

    1. MADE PROBABLY FOR PINO III ORDELAFFI (1436-1480), the preeminent member of the ruling family of Forlì and neighbouring areas mentioned by Dante in the Inferno. Pino was distinguished for his patronage of the arts and his violence: he is suspected of killing his brother, mother, first wife, and second wife, before himself being killed by his third wife. The evidence for his patronage is twofold. First, the calendar indicates Forlì or its immediate neighbourhood, because the only local saint is St Mercurialis (30 April, in red), a rarely encountered 4th-century bishop-confessor of the town, to whom the town's main church is dedicated. Second, the coat of arms and crest in the first full border (f.7) is overpainted, but from the reverse of the leaf it can be seen clearly that the original arms were barry vert and or, a demi-lion rampant in chief, with an eagle with splayed wings as a crest: these arms and crest are those of the Ordelaffi (as illustrated, for example, on the front cover of Giuseppe Pecci, Gli Ordelaffi (Faenza, 1974). Pino was baptised in San Mercuralis (his godparents were Lionello d'Este and Francesco Sforza), and a magnificent tomb to his first wife (considered by many to be a sign of his guilt at having murdered her) is in the church.

    2. There are only two added feasts in the calendar: St Anselm (18 March), a principal patron of Mantua, and the feast of the finding of the relics of Longinus (2 December), which occurred at Mantua in 1304. These additions are in a 15th- or 16th-century hand suggesting that the manuscript had reached Mantua by the sixteenth century at the latest.

    3. The added coat of arms (argent, a rampant unicorn gules) is perhaps 18th-century, and was borne by various families including the Benino family of Florence, and the Picenadi of Milan and Cremona.

    4. Inscribed in the 18th or 19th century 'R 168' (f.1, bottom left corner). Probably 19th-century are the remains of a blue-edged printed label (front pastedown, top left corner), and a clipping from an English book-seller's catalogue (using British not American spelling), in which this was item 239.

    5. Henry William Poor (1844-1915), a successful dealer in securities (whose name survives today in Standard & Poor's, the financial research company), and book-collector with his gilt red leather book-label; he lost his fortune in the Bankers' Panic of 1907, and was forced to liquidate his assets: sold at Anderson's, New York, 17 November 1908, lot 802 (still preserving a loose slip of paper inscribed '802').

    6. With a pencil description in German (front pastedown), perhaps by the book-seller Karl W. Hiersemann (1854-1928) of Leipzig, from whom the Hispanic Society acquired at least 83 other manuscripts between 1905 and 1914.

    7. HSA 1147.

    Calendar, with major feasts in red ff.1-6v; Temporale from Advent to Easter, the Exultet, prefaces, blessings, and other sung pieces accompanied by music; the litany with Anthony first among the monks and hermits, and Monica first among the virgins, ff.7-135v; f.136 blank, f.136v with a full-page miniature; Canon of the Mass, ff.137-141v; Temporale from the Resurrection to the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, ff.141v-189; f.189v blank; Sanctorale from St Andrew to St Catherine, ff.190-238v; Common of Saints, and a long series of votive masses, including numerous ones for the dead, ending with one attributed to Pope Clement VI at Avignon, carrying forty days' indulgence, ff.239-286v; blessings, ff.287-288v; masses, contemporary but apparently added, for St Anthony Abbot and the Transfiguration, ff.288v-290; later added mass for St Monica, in cursive script, f.290; later added hymns 'Lauda sion salvatorem' and 'Dies ire dies illa', in humanistic script, ff.290v-291v; later added mass for St William, in cursive script, f.291v.

    The illumination is in a style typical of Emilia Romagna: in particular the borders with tight brown ink scrollwork with gold discs, and the palette (including purple, orange-red, and green modelled with yellow), is like that found in manuscripts such as the Book of Hours at the Getty Museum illuminated by Taddeo Crivelli and Guglielmo Giraldi c.1465 (see La miniature a Ferrara (1988), no. 27), and the robust and emotive style of the full-page Crucifixion miniature has much in common with that in the Missal of the same date illuminated by Giraldi, now at Vivegnano (ibid., pl. on p. 147).

    f. 136v Full-page miniature of The Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John, set in a grove of pine-trees, the full border incorporating two prophets and two Roman soldiers, including Longinus
    f.137 Small miniature of the Elevation of the Host

    The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows:
    f.7 King David in Prayer, accompanied by a full border incorporating putti playing musical instruments, a monkey, a deer, birds, half-length figures of the Four Evangelists, and four putti supporting a wreath containing a coat of arms on a gold ground
    f.7 A figure preaching
    f.16v The Stoning of St Stephen; the border incorporating a nobleman in profile
    f.18 The Massacre of the Innocents; the border incorporating four dead Innocents
    f.21v The Adoration of the Magi
    f.141v The Resurrection
    f.153v The Ascension
    f.157 Pentecost
    f.164 St Paul, blessing (Trinity Sunday)
    f.165v Chalice and Host on an altar (Corpus Christi)
    f.190 St Andrew
    f.197 The Presentation in the Temple
    f.201v The Annunciation
    f.203 Sts Philip and James
    f.204 The Invention of the Cross by St Helena
    f.209 St John the Baptist
    f.212 Sts Peter and Paul
    f.214 The Visitation
    f.217v St James
    f.218v St Peter, the border incorporating a male saint's head
    f.221v St Laurence giving money to a beggar
    f.223 The Assumption of the Virgin, the border incorporating two apostles
    f.225 St Bartholomew
    f.227 The Nativity of the Virgin Mary
    f.228v The Exaltation of the Cross
    f.231v The dedication of a church
    f.235v All Saints
    f.239 An apostle, with full border incorporating a horn-blowing putto, rabbits, a bird, and a wreath enclosing an emblem consisting of a pair of winged hands holding a red heart? between two brown pieces of rope?
    f.240v Two apostles
    f.243v A bishop-martyr
    f.246v A non-bishop martyr
    f.253A bishop-confessor
    f.257v A non-bishop confessor
    f.259Three virgins
    f.279v A skull

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Special Notice

    No VAT on hammer price or buyer's premium.