St Bartholomew, initial miniature ‘I’ on a cutting from an illuminated passionary (Tuscany, second half 12th century). Estimate: £50,000-80,000
ONLINE SALEScript and Illumination: Leaves from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, 24 Nov – 3 DecBrowse sale
This 12th-century miniature represents the pinnacle of Tuscan Romanesque art in manuscript form — the figure of St Bartholomew portrayed with a presence that seems to extend beyond the page itself. Monumental in size, the depiction is evocative of designs that appear on large Tuscan panels, the standing saint presented with the solemn attitude of a Byzantine icon.
The Grammont Abbey bible
Two bifolia and a leaf with two historiated initials from the Grammont Abbey Bible (Flanders, c.1200). Estimate: £30,000-50,000
Not only are the large and luxuriously-illuminated leaves of the Grammont/ Geraardsbergen Bible a rare and particularly splendid example of Flemish manuscript illumination at the end of the 12th century — rich in gold and with a great subtlety of line — they offer a physical reflection of the great European monastic resurgence of the 11th and 12th centuries.
During this period many monasteries were founded (and existing religious houses endowed with greater wealth) at the behest of royalty, the nobility and other wealthy laymen. In the manuscript workshops of these monasteries there was a renewed focus on the production of beautifully illustrated religious texts such as the above. Created to celebrate God’s glory in this era of spiritual reform, the deluxe Bible they once formed part of would have taken pride of place on the altar at Geraardsbergen’s Abbey.
Raymond of Penyafort
Raymond of Penyafort (1175-1275), Quia Tractare Intendimus, with tables of consanguinity and affinity (Paris, mid-13th century. Estimate: £30,000-50,000
These delightful 13th-century illuminations from the Vie de Saint Denis atelier offer a visual interpretation of an ecclesiastical legal text. Placed at the centre of this double page, two miniatures — the tables of consanguinity and affinity — accompany Dominican friar Raymond of Penyafort’s text on kinship and marriage, reinforcing the canon law that forbids marriage to certain blood relatives and governs remarriage to a deceased spouse’s relatives.
An Italian Gradual
Illuminated initial 'D' on a leaf from an Italian Gradual (Florence, last quarter 14th century). Estimate: £700-1,000
This is a very beautiful musical leaf from a Florentine choirbook, painted at the end of the 14th century — perhaps one of the great series produced for the Camoldolese monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
After the Napoleonic invasion in 1796, choirbooks from the series were dismembered and dispersed, along with countless other manuscripts from Italian monastic libraries, but their leaves continue to resurface. Here, the bold oranges, blues and greens of the palette recall the work of the celebrated illuminator Don Silvestro.
The Crucifixion, miniature on a leaf from the Chester Beatty Book of Hours, Paris, 1408. Estimate: £25,000-35,000
This fantastic leaf was painted by the Mazarine Master, one of the founding figures of Parisian manuscript illumination, and is taken from one of the only medieval Books of Hours for which we have a secure date: 1408, according to an inscription in the original manuscript — the year the bridges were washed away in Paris.
The page, along with a number from the same manuscript, was previously in the collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968), the Irish-American industrialist and art collector, whose collection of manuscripts and books is now held in the Dublin library he founded.
The Breviary of Lionello d'Este
A bifolium with three historiated initials from the breviary of Lionello d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. Estimate: £7,000-10,000
This exceptional bifolium, or double leaf, comes from a similarly lavish breviary — a liturgical book containing prayers, hymns, psalms and readings. The breviary was thought to have been made in the mid-15th century for Lionello d’Este, Marquis of Ferrara and Duke of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and would have been used in the d’Estes’ private chapel. By the 19th century, however, the manuscript had reached Monmouthshire, Wales, and had come into the estate of the Barons Llangattock, from whom it derives its more recognisable title of ‘the Llangattock Breviary. After the family sold their Breviary, its leaves were separated and dispersed.
A Delft Book of Hours
King David, the Virgin and Child, a nun and three angels, four leaves from a Delft Book of Hours (Delft, c.1470). Estimate: £3,500-5,000
These four leaves come from the workshop of the Masters of the Delft Half-Length Figures, and display the delightful penwork and blue-red ‘block’ borders that characterise the Delft style. Painted around 1470, the leaves are enlivened by angelic and religious figures populating the borders, their scrolls bearing pious mottoes in Dutch.
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