12 June 2013
SAINT URSULA AND HER VIRGINS, large historiated initial cut from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT CHOIRBOOK ON VELLUM
[Italy, probably Cremona, c.1450-60]
148 x 145mm. Laid down on card.
The bright decorative colours and charming, somewhat doll-like faces of the figures, are characteristic features of Milanese illumination from the end of the 14th into the third quarter of the 15th century.
This initial is identifiable as belonging with a group of dispersed cuttings (several belonging to the Houghton Library, Harvard) brought together as originating in a single choirbook by Anna Melograni: 'Miniature inedite del Quattrocento lombardo nelle collezione americane', Storia dell'Arte, 1994, pp.289-94. They are the work of an artist given the name Maestro dai Fondi Giallini on the basis of his distinctive use of mustard-yellow backgrounds. His style owes an obvious debt to the Master of the Vitae Imperatorum, favoured illuminator of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan. The work of the Maestro dai Fondi Giallini was first identified in a series of Graduals made for the convent of Sant'Agostino in Cremona (Museo Civico, mss XIII-XV), and the present initial almost certainly came from a dismembered volume of this same series: Illuminated Manuscripts in Cambridge, eds N. Morgan, S. Panayatova and S. Reynolds, II, vol.1, 2011, nos 130-131.
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