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ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, initial 'S' cut from a choirbook, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

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ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, initial 'S' cut from a choirbook, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM

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ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, initial 'S' cut from a choirbook, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [Bologna or Rimini, beginning of the 14th century] 190 x 172mm. Christ, in a red robe and pink mantle, and the Virgin, in blue and lilac, sit side-by-side on the orange and pink initial-stave against a background of highly burnished gold, below them the heads and haloes of the Apostles, in the margin a bearded figure emerging from the largest of the foliate terminals of pink, green, lilac and blue, on the verso three lines of text in brown-black ink in a round gothic bookhand between three lines of music of square notation on a four-line red stave (hands of marginal figure cropped and small pigment losses to the top of his head and sleeves). This is an exceptionally delicate and highly finished initial painted by Neri da Rimini (fl. 1300-?1322), one of the leading illuminators of the first quarter of the 14th century, who was documented at work in Rimini in 1306 and who signed several of the choirbooks he decorated. The subtle and sophisticated mingling of bright and pastel shades -- as the orange highlighting of the mantles of lilac and pink -- is characteristic of the experimental and innovative treatment of colour in his finest work. While the decorative vocabulary used in the present initial is very close to that of a folio in the Fondazione Cini in Venice, attributed by Toesca to Neri but now sometimes thought to be by a collaborator (G. Mariani Canova, Miniatura dell'Italia settentrionale nella Fondazione Giorgio Cini, 1978, no 36), the greater fluidity of the drapery folds and convincing articulation of the figures of the present initial relate it directly to Neri himself. We are grateful to Robert Gibbs for confirming this attribution and for his suggestion that the initial should be dated to the same period as the Gradual of 1303 from S. Silvestro, Larciano (Pistoia): S. Nicolini, Neri da Rimini, Il Trecento riminese tra pittura e scrittura, exhib. 1995.
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