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ST ROMUALD?, initial 'O' by the MASTER OF THE MURANO GRADUAL, cut from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT CHOIR BOOK ON VELLUM
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ST ROMUALD?, initial 'O' by the MASTER OF THE MURANO GRADUAL, cut from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT CHOIR BOOK ON VELLUM

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ST ROMUALD?, initial 'O' by the MASTER OF THE MURANO GRADUAL, cut from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT CHOIR BOOK ON VELLUM
[Venice, mid-15th century]
150 x 127mm. Within a large powder-blue initial and against a ground of burnished gold, a bearded Camaldolese monk, possibly the founder of the order St Romuald, in white, pink and green robes with gold embroidery clutches a book (tiny loss of gold pigment in the infill of the initial). Pasted down on a later ground of burnished gold, mounted on card and in an 18th-century gilt wooden frame with putti. Provenance: ROBERT STAYNER HOLFORD (1808-92); Sir George Holford (1860-1926), The Holford Collection, 1927, no 27c, pl. XXV.

A DAZZLING CUTTING FROM A LAVISH CHOIR BOOK BY THE MASTER OF THE MURANO GRADUAL, one of the most distinctive and gifted artists active in northern Italy in the mid-15th century. The Master (active c.1430-1460) takes his name from a Gradual for the Temporale (Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, MS 78 F.1) and a series of cuttings -- including two at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles (MSS 73 and 106) and another at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Rogers Fund 1948, 48.40). that were likely from a companion volume for the Sanctorale, made for one of the two Camaldolese houses, San Michele or San Mattia, on Murano. Many of the cuttings can be traced to the sale of William Young Ottley (Sotheby's, 11 May 1838) where Murano was given as their source. The Master's style owes a great deal to the Lombard illuminator Belbello da Pavia (1430-73) to whom his work has often been attributed. The present cutting's grave, ruddy-cheeked monk in his voluminous robes looking up from his book is a poised example of the Master's fine, expressive style.
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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni

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