ANTIPHONAL AND HYMNAL, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[probably Milan, first quarter 13th century]
345 x 245mm. 179 leaves: 17(of 8, lacking iv), 28, 34(of 8, lacking ii, iv, v and vii), 4-118, 1210, 13-228, 236(of 8, lacking i and viii), foliation from 1-184 followed here, twelve lines of music of square notation above twelve lines of text written in black ink in a gothic bookhand, above eleven horizontals and between two verticals ruled across margins, justification: 275 x 160mm, THIRTY-TWO LARGE PAINTED INITIALS in red, blue, turquoise and green, flourished initials alternately of red and blue with penwork of the other colour (initial on f.1v smudged, very slight cropping to some initials, parts of margins excised on ff. 20, 30, 140, 164, 165, 168, 169 and 170 not affecting text or music, all margins lacking on f.163 affecting one line of text, many margins repaired with reused parchment or paper strips, thumbing and darkening of margins, occasional spotting and stains). Italian 15th-century brown leather over wooden boards, ruled and stamped in blind and with applied metal borders (leather and metalwork worn, lacking centrepieces and all but one boss, rebacked spine split at upper joint).
Abbey of Santa Maria of Chiaravalle, Milan: inscriptions 'Sante Marie Clarevalis' on ff.1, 13, 16, 19, 117v, and 'Sante Marie Clarevalis Mediolani est Liber iste' on f.130 written in late 16th- or early 17th-century hand.
In 1134 St Bernard of Clairvaux, accompanied by a small group of Cistercians, went to Milan as part of his effort to raise support for pope Innocent II. His success led to the foundation outside the city of a new abbey that came to be named after the mother house in Burgundy. The foundation stone was laid on 22 January 1135, but the first altars were not consecrated until 1196, and it was not until 2 May 1221 that Archbishop Enrico Settala consecrated the church itself. The manuscript is likely to have left the Abbey in 1799 when the monastery was suppressed, its church became a parish church, and its goods were expropriated and sold.
D. Carlo Emanuele Scotti: his name with the date 1880 are written in the margin of f.178v. A priest of this name was responsible for the renewal of the tiled pavement of the church of San Benedetto at Trigolo at the beginning of the 20th century.
Henry White JP DL FSA., historian (1812-1880): his bookplate and his sale Sotheby's, 21 April 1920, lot 961.
Winter Antiphonal from Advent to Easter ff.1-93; Winter Sanctoral from Andrew to the Annunciation ff.93v-138; Common of Saints ff.138-161; Office of the Dead, Cistercian use ff.161-164v; Hymnal ff.164v-184 (lacking end).
The manuscript was certainly made for use in a Cistercian church and specifying the verses for use on the feast of the Ordination of St Ambrose on f.184 suggests that it was in Chiaravalle itself that it was written around the time of the consecration of the church.
The decorated initials are wonderfully lively and varied, combining stylized foliage, rigidly geometric patterns (some created using a pair of compasses), and biting dragon-heads (f.135), and combining deep rich body colours with pale washes and penwork flourishing. The absence of gold and figurative imagery is in keeping with Cistercian ascetic ideals, but within these constraints the decoration could hardly be more exuberant.
We are aware of only one other manuscript surviving from Sta Maria Chiaravalle: Yale University, Beinecke Library, MS Marston 233 is a mid 12th-century copy of Cistercian statutes that was owned by the house by the 14th century.