26 October 2016
Property from the Newark Museum, Sold to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund
Niccolò di Ser Sozzo (fl. 1334-63), ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, in an initial ‘G’ for the introit ‘Gaudeamus omnes in domino’ on a leaf from a choirbook Gradual, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Siena c.1350].
18 7/8 x 13 3/8 inches. Large historiated initial depicting the Assumption of the Virgin, 7 lines of text and music, contemporary foliation in red ‘XXXI’ (slight marginal cropping affecting borders, minor creasing to the vellum).
A splendid example of the engaging delicacy and vibrancy of the work of Niccolò di Ser Sozzo, one of the leading Sienese panel painters and miniaturists of the 14th century. His most celebrated documented work, inscribed “Nicholaus, Ser Sozzi de Senis”, is an elaborate Assumption of the Virgin on a Sienese land and property registration book known as the Codex Caleffo (c. 1334), now in the Archivio di Stato in Siena. The present miniature, with the Virgin in her patterned white robes heightened with gold and precious stones within a mandorla of different shades of blue surrounded by angels, is particularly close in composition and execution to the representation of the same subject in the “Caleffo”.
Examples of Niccolò’s work can be found in museums and institutions worldwide: the Archivio di Stato in Siena also holds an antiphonal with four illuminations by the artist; The Museo di Arte Sacra in San Gimignano preserves a choirbook (Graduale LXVIII) with a number of historiated initials attributed to Niccolò, and the Cini Foundation in Venice has a fine cutting with the Annunciation. Miniatures and cuttings by Niccolò can also be found in the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum, Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Michigan Museum of Art
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