London, South Kensington
1 June 2009
BENEDICTINE AUTHOR, historiated initial 'I', on the opening leaf of a collection of Lenten and Eastertide Sermons, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [northern Italy c.1380]
300 x 205mm overall, initial 105mm high. Initial with an author, apparently dressed as a Benedictine monk, standing against a blue background and within a gold surround, a full-page border of scrolling acanthus sprays of pink, red, blue and green around bars of pink and red and interspersed with burnished gold disks, a central bar of black and pink; two columns of 60 lines written in a small gothic bookhand, justification: 207 x 68-7-67mm (recovered from a binding, creased, rubbed, gold abraded, smudges, splits and holes at folds and lacking lower corners).
The high-quality initial and marginal decorations are unusually lavish for a collection of sermons, and contrast with the Lenten subject matter of the text: the first two sermons in the series, which appear on this leaf, are both on texts from Matthew 6.16 concerned with fasting, 'Cum ieiunatis nolite fieri sicut hypocritae' and 'Exterminant enim facies suae'.
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