MISSAL, use of Udine, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Vienna, c.1430-35]
MISSAL, use of Udine, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Vienna, c.1430-35]
MISSAL, use of Udine, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Vienna, c.1430-35]
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MISSAL, use of Udine, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Vienna, c.1430-35]
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MISSAL, use of Udine, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Vienna, c.1430-35]

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MISSAL, use of Udine, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM, [Vienna, c.1430-35]

335 X 270mm. iii + 345 + vii: 16, 2-810, 99 (iii a singleton), 10-1510, 168, 17-1810, 198, 20-3110, 328, 3310, 349 (ix a singleton), 359 (i a singleton), 368 (lacking an added leaf at beginning and lacking an inserted leaf with illumination before the Canon of the Mass), gathering numbers and signatures throughout, ruled space 217 x 136mm. TWENTY-ONE ILLUMINATED INITIALS AND EIGHT HISTORIATED INITIALS (immaculate condition except for the added leaves at front and back with vertical creasing). CONTEMPORARY GERMANIC BINDING of pink tawed-skin over wooden boards with modified BLUE TAWED-SKIN CHEMISE (scuffed and marked and with later tawed pigskin straps, lacking clasps and catches).

A NEW DISCOVERY: A PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN WORK BY THE MASTER OF THE PRAYERBOOK OF ALBRECHT V, DUKE OF AUSTRIA. AN EXAMPLE OF THE HIGHEST QUALITY OF CENTRAL EUROPEAN COURT ART AND AN INTRIGUING SIDELIGHT INTO A CONTEMPORARY POWER STRUGGLE.

PROVENANCE:
(1) The Calendar makes plain the intended destination of the manuscript in the Patriarchate of Aquileia. It includes among the major feasts written in red those of St Hermagoras, first bishop and patron of Aquileia (12 July), Sts Cantius, Cantianus and Cantianilla (31 May) and the Dedication of ‘alma ecclesia’ of Aquileia (13 July); in other instances it specifies that feasts are duplex ‘in aquilegia’. The liturgical use of the Missal, which can be identified from the Sundays after Pentecost, was for Udine – the capital and favourite residence of the Patriarch from the 13th century until the city and Patria fell to the Venetians in 1420.

Notwithstanding the loss of his lands and control, PATRIARCH LOUIS OF TECK (Ludwig, Herzog von Teck), who had been appointed with the support of the emperor in 1412, retained the title until his death in 1439. He persistently, but unsuccessfully, tried to regain his territory and dominion from the Venetians, both by arms and by petitioning the emperor and the pope: J. E. Law, Venice and the Veneto in the early Renaissance, 2000, VI, pp.138-143, VII pp.2-8 and 12-21. The fact that the manuscript was clearly produced in Vienna for a Patriarch and by an illuminator who worked for members of the imperial family and court makes it likely that the Missal was commissioned for or by Louis during his exile, a period when he undertook diplomatic commissions for Albrecht V, Duke of Austria, the principal patron of the illuminator. Perhaps the most likely time for this commission was around 1434 to 1435 when Louis successfully appealed to the Council of Basel over the usurpation of his rights in Friuli and Istria. In September 1434 a monitorium was issued against the Republic of Venice demanding that the Patria be surrendered under pain of extradition. Venice resisted and counter-claimed but in December 1435 the Council fully endorsed Louis of Teck’s case and excommunicated the Republic. He must have felt that a return to the Patriarchate was within his grasp. This Missal appears to be an extravagant, and misplaced, embodiment of his optimism and intent.

(2) JO?EF KALASANC, BARON ERBERG (1771-1843), botanist, cultural historian and collector: his library stamp on the opening leaf. Erberg was born in Ljubljana and in 1815 after a career at the Austrian court he returned to his family’s manor and park at Dol pri Ljubljana. There he concentrated on developing the garden – known as the Versailles of Carniola – library and collections. He particularly collected natural and cultural objects associated with Carniola, now within Slovenia. The position of his library stamp on the present opening leaf, suggests that the first of the added leaves was already missing by the time the manuscript reached his collection.

CONTENT:
Masses for the Days of the Week, opening in feria III, ff.i-iii; Calendar ff.1-6; Masses from the Temporal ff.7-170v; instructions to the celebrant in a later 15th-century hand f.171v; Canon of the Mass ff.172-181v; Masses from the Sanctoral ff.182-261v; Common of Saints ff.262-313v; Votive masses of the Virgin, Masses of the Dead, for the Anniversary of the Dead, Brothers and Sisters, a Man, Several Men, a Woman, Several Women, Burial in a Cemetary ff.313v-329v; Masses for Palm Sunday, for the Virgin between Easter and Ascension, for All Saints, Wounds of Christ, Sundays after Pentecost, Virgin ff.330-345; additional Votive Masses ff.345-352; added prayer f.352v.

The additions at the front and back of the volume, also in a 15th-century hand were also made for use in Aquileia for a prayer on f.251 names Hermagorus, Fortunatus, Cantius, Cantiano and Cantianilla.

The leaf, f.171, now carrying added prayers and instructions to the celebrant in a 15th-century hand, appears to have been left blank by the original scribe with the intention that it should carry the Canonical miniature of the Crucifixion: this was never supplied. Instead a leaf with a miniature on the verso, was inserted before f.171. Only the stub of this now survives.

ILLUMINATION:
The exquisite decoration and illustration of this manuscript – uniformly of the greatest refinement and delicacy – can be securely identified as the work of the illuminator known as the Master of the Prayerbook of Albrecht V (or Albrechtsminiator). Active at the Habsburg court in Vienna from the mid-1420s until at least 1448 – the date of his work in a prayerbook for Friedrich IV, King of the Romans – the illuminator gets his name from one of the manuscripts he made for Albrecht V, Duke of Austria (1397-1437) (Vienna, ONB, Cod.2722): V. Pirker-Aurenhammer, Das Gebetbuch für Herzog Albrecht V, 2002.

The style of this anonymous illuminator – elegant, immediately appealing, decorative rather than naturalistic – can be characterised as mingling the most engaging and decorative features of Bohemian illumination – as seen in the Antwerp Bible and Gerona Martyrology – with the more attenuated figure-style and spatial qualities of Austrian panel-painting: K.-G. Pfändtner, ‘The Influence and Spread of the Bohemian Decoration System to 15th-century Manuscript Production in Vienna and Nuremberg’, Manuscripta, 50/2,(2006), p.310. The Master’s formation has been traced to the workshop of the Viennese artist Meister Nikolaus but the possibility that he trained in Prague before moving to Vienna has also been proposed. He was certainly active in Vienna by the mid-1420s, the date of a Missal given to St Stephen by the Cathedral Provost Wilhelm von Turs von Aspern (Vienna, Erzbischofl. Dom- & Diözesanmuseum Cod. s.n.): K. Hranitzky et al, Mitteleuropaïsche Schulen V Ca 1410-1450: Wien und Niederösterreich, 2012, cat. nos 1, 2, & 10-13, and pp.58-63.

But it is the manuscripts that the Master painted for Albrecht that show him at the polished peak of his abilities and that demonstrate why he became that ruler's favoured illuminator. And the palette, forms and compositions in Albrecht's Prayerbook – 'one of the most important treasures of the Habsburg book collections' – can be precisely matched in this Missal. Just two scenes treat the same subjects but both share the same arresting presentations of the resurrected Christ and His Flagellation.

The supreme quality of the borders and illuminated initials of the present Missal equal the Master's finest work: the combination of his decorative sense and technical accomplishment, including in the varied treatment of burnished gold, cause the foliate initials to have an impact that equals the figurative scenes. This is a manuscript of remarkable beauty and immaculate condition.

The exceptional qualities of the Master of the Prayerbook of Albrecht V continued to be appreciated at the Habsburg court for at least a decade after that king's death, and he went on to contribute to the extensive manuscript commissions undertaken for Friedrich II, King of the Romans, Holy Roman Emperor from 1452.

The subjects of the historiated initials are as follows: Christ in Majesty f.7; Nativity f.25v; Resurrection f.96v; Ascension f.107v; Pentecost f.110; Church f.118; Flagellation f.172; St Mary Magdalene f.227v.

Large illuminated foliate initials with sprays, from 3 to 8 lines high, on folios 20v, 23, 35, 38v, 54v, 82v, 114, 115v, 121v, 182, 185v, 192v, 200v, 211, 213v, 216, 219, 236v, 242v, 255 and 262.

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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni

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