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THE DORMITION OF THE VIRGIN and THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, miniatures on both sides of a leaf from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
THE DORMITION OF THE VIRGIN and THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, miniatures on both sides of a leaf from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
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THE DORMITION OF THE VIRGIN and THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, miniatures on both sides of a leaf from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

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THE DORMITION OF THE VIRGIN and THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, miniatures on both sides of a leaf from a Book of Hours, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Veneto, probably Padua, c.1340-1350]
131 x 94mm. On the recto, the Dormition of the Virgin against a ground of liquid gold, with the body of Mary surrounded by angels and Apostles, Christ holding her soul in the form of a young girl below ten lines of text closing Vespers, all within a full-page diapered border of black, gold and red; the verso with the Assumption of the Virgin against a ground of liquid gold, with Mary in a blue mandorla borne by two angels and the apostles looking on from below, three-line initial 'C' opening Compline, three lines of text, all within a similar full-page border, the lower segment with pink, green, red and blue flowers and two Saints (borders worn, with loss of pigment and darkening of colours, loss of burnished gold in several places, the recto with some browning and wear to the figures). Double-sided frame.

A CHARMING AND RICHLY ILLUMINATED LEAF FROM AN EXCEPTIONALLY EARLY ITALIAN BOOK OF HOURS. Books of Hours from the first half of the 14th century are extremely rare and it is only recently that any Italian examples have been identified, most notably the lavishly and inventively illuminated Officiolum of the poet Francesco da Barberino of c.1308 (Christie's Rome, 5 December 2003, lot 404). Like other early Italian Hours the Officiolum was apparently painted in or around Padua by artists heavily reliant on Bolognese style. Such an origin seems likely for the present leaf with its vibrant palette and delicately modelled Giottesque figures. The profusion of illustration -- two miniatures to open a single Hour -- indicates that the parent manuscript must have been a remarkable luxury product. This leaf, like its sister folio (priv. coll. Switzerland), has great significance for Italian bibliographic and devotional history in addition to being a work of exceptional artistic quality.
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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni

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