12 June 2013
THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST, historiated initial 'V' on a leaf from an ILLUMINATED GRADUAL ON VELLUM
435 x 332mm (leaf); 110 x 112 (initial). The initial in pink and red on a ground of blue, acanthus terminals extending into the margin; the Virgin and the apostles within with Christ above in a mandorla borne by two angels; seven lines of music and text on recto and verso (some fading of text, tiny loss of pigment to the face of the Virgin). Framed.
The initial opens the Introit for the Mass of the Ascension: 'Viri Galilei quid admiramini aspicientes in coelum?' (Men of Galilee, why wonder you, looking up to heaven?).
A STRIKING AND VIBRANT EXAMPLE OF EARLY FOURTEENTH-CENTURY VENETIAN ILLUMINATION. The composition of the scene displays an eastern, Byzantine influence, and the heavily modelled faces, with brows and noses heightened by touches of white, indicate that the manuscript was produced in Venice during the first half of the 14th century. The patterned robes of the angels carrying Christ to Heaven and the minute detail of red and white dots outlining the halos of the Virgin, Christ and the angels are particularly distinctive. Identical details and a similar modelling of the figures are found in the original decoration of a Venetian Gradual produced for a Dominican house c.1325 (Fitzwilliam Museum, MS McClean 56: Morgan, Panayatova & Reynolds, Illuminated Manuscripts in Cambridge, 2011, Pt 2, vol.1, no 48). It is likely that the artist who was responsible for the first campaign of the Fitzwilliam Gradual was also responsible for the present manuscript. Localisation to Venice is supported by the close similarity in figure style and ornament to the very fragmentary Antiphonals of San Marco, one perhaps datable to 1318 (Venice, Archivio di Stato Proc. de supra, s. Chiesa, MSS Reg. 113 and Reg. 116).
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