THE COLONNA MISSAL, use of the Sistine Chapel, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Italy, Rome or Vatican City, c.1532, 1539, and c.1555
370 x 260mm. 97 leaves: 18, 29 (of 10, lacking vii), 38, 412 (of 10, plus a bifolium ix and x), 5-910, 109 (of 10, lacking x), ff. 34v, 42, 69v, 97 blank, foliated in sixteenth-century ink roman numerals, and in pencil by Eric Millar c.1925, the ink foliation lacks 'i', 'xvi', and stops at 'lxxxxiiii', the list of contents on f.97v was probably originally at the beginning of the volume where it would have been conjoint with and facing f.i, catchwords throughout, ruled in very pale brown ink with 15 pairs of horizontals for the tops and bottoms of minims on each line, with two verticals, justification: 255 x 160mm, written in brown ink in a fine formal gothic script, rubrics in red, with up to 15 lines of text or 5 lines of text and music per page, the music in square notation on three red staves, a fourth stave occasionally ruled at the beginning of a piece of music, one-line gold initials on square grounds alternately blue or red, THIRTY-THREE THREE-LINE ILLUMINATED INITIALS, OFTEN HISTORIATED, in colours on a gold ground or vice versa, WITH LARGE BORDER ORNAMENTS, OFTEN FIGURAL, at the beginning of prayers, readings, etc., ONE VERY LARGE HISTORIATED INITIAL at the beginning of the Canon of the Mass and ONE LARGE MINIATURE at the beginning of the Mass of the Presentation in the Temple (some minor offsetting or smudges, rarely affecting the decoration). Bound in full red morocco extensively gilt and blind-tooled, each cover including the Colonna arms in the centre and a Colonna column to each side, and a doubled-headed eagle in each corner, the spine with Renaissance interlace ornament, the leaves with gilt edges, traces of four ties (spine repaired with old leather laid on, some scuffing, traces of four ties). Red morocco-backed solander box.
MADE FOR USE AT SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT MASSES OF THE YEAR IN THE SISTINE CHAPEL
The contemporary binding is by Maestro Luigi de Gava or de Gradi (on whom see A. Hobson, Apollo and Pegasus: An Enquiry into the Formation and Dispersal of a Renaissance Library, 1975, pp.70-6, citing the present volume at pp.71 and 73, and reproducing it as pl. VII), this being one of his two earliest datable works. Maestro Luigi is documented from 1542 to 1565 as the binder of the Pope's books written and illuminated for the Sistine Chapel and the capella segreta, his private chapel.
1. Cardinal Pompeo di Girolamo Colonna (1479-1532): this volume forms part of a set he commissioned, but whose decoration was not finished until about twenty years after his death (see below). The Colonna arms occur in the earliest phase of decoration on f.1v, and among the other volumes which form the rest of the set (John Rylands Library, Manchester University, Latin mss 32-37) the Colonna arms occur several times, and one contains the inscription 'DIVO POMPEIO CARDINALI COLUMNAE' (see A Descriptive Catalogue of the Latin Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, Part I, MSS 1-183, Comprising a reprint of M. R. James's 1921 Catalogue with Introduction and Additional Notes by Frank Taylor, 1980, pp.87-95 and pls 70-85, citing the present volume in James's Addenda at p.xxvi and discussing it in Taylor's Additional Notes at pp.18*-20*).
2. By descent to other members of the Colonna family: the initial on f.17 contains the Colonna arms (gules, a column argent, its base and capital or, surmounted by a crown of the same) surmounted by a green bishop's hat, with green cords and six tassels to each side, and next to it the date 21 May 1539; two volumes were added to the set in 1555, one of them with a colophon by the Venetian scribe Johannes Rochus; it is likely that the original volumes were completed and bound at about this date. The present manuscript is inscribed 'N. 2' in 18th(?)-century ink (upper pastedown), while the companion volumes in Manchester are similarly marked 'N. 1' and 'N. 3'-'N. 7'. They were said to have been seen in the Sciarra Colonna library in Rome in 1874 by J.W. Bradley, but this date must be wrong, as the Rylands Library volumes were acquired by Lord Lindsay in June 1868 (see James and Taylor, 1980, p.19*).
3. Bernard Quaritch Catalogue 156 (January 1896), no 1, and Catalogue 164 (October 1896), no 8.
4. George Jay Gould (1864-1923), Manhattan financier, of Georgian Court (now Georgian Court University), Lakewood, New Jersey, with his bookplate; his sale at the Anderson Galleries, New York, 12 March 1925, lot 257 with reproduction, bought by Gabriel Wells for $1,550.
5. Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968); with annotations on the pastedown numbering it as his Western MS 128-135 III; his sale at Sotheby's, 7 June 1932, lot 33 and pls 45-46; bought by Quaritch, with their number '637' within a rectangle on the upper pastedown; perhaps bought on behalf of, or given on consignment to, Alice Millard, Pasadena book dealer and patron of Frank Lloyd Wright.
6. Estelle Doheny (1875-1958), philanthropist wife of oil-tycoon Edward L. Doheny (d.1935), with her gilt leather book-label on the upper pastedown and her pencil acquisition note recording the source, date, and price in code on the back pastedown; exhibited in 1935 (The Book as a Work of Art: An Exhibition of Books and Manuscripts from the Library of Mrs. Edward Laurence Doheny, pp.13, 24-25 no 7) and in 1950 (Addresses at a Meeting of the Zamorano Club, May 6, 1950, Edward Laurence Doheny Memorial Library, St. John's Seminary, p.31 no 9); in her catalogue (Catalogue of Books & Manuscripts in the Estelle Doheny Collection, I, 1940, p.5); described by de Ricci (Census, I, p.21 no 5); sold in these rooms, 12 December 1987, lot 176.
Mass for the octave of the Nativity of Christ, lacking the first leaf ff. 1-14v; Mass for Epiphany, lacking the first leaf ff.15-42; Mass for the Purification of the Virgin ff.43-69; Canon of the Mass, lacking the last leaf ff.70-96v; table of contents 'Quae in hoc volumine continentur . . .' (as in companion volumes) f.97v.
The rubrics frequently allow for the presence of the pope (ff.20v, 21v-22, 44, 51v, etc), but the contemporary bifolium which upsets the regularity of the collation contains a long rubric detailing the actions of a cardinal if the pope is absent ('Papa vero absente cardinalis celebraturus prevenit ad ecclesiam sive capellam ...', f.35). An interesting case of 'indulgence inflation' can be observed where a piece of paper has been stuck over one word in the prayer 'Sanctissimus in Christo pater et dominus noster dominus .N. ...', to increase the indulgence from seven to ten years (f.95, line 4).
The decoration seems to have been executed in at least three stages by at least three main artists, possibly with contributions by several others: the volume thus represents a compendium of Renaissance illumination of the 1530s to 1550s.
The work of the various illuminators is not easy to distinguish with complete confidence, but the historiated initials and border ornaments in the first quire are painted using a wide variety of decorative motifs in especially deep rich colours, predominantly green, blue, red, and a purplish colour, usually on a matte gold ground, and the decorative motifs include symmetrical leaf forms, dolphins, and human masks; this section presumably dates from before Pompeo's death.
The decoration of the second quire is in a style close to the artist who painted the most important pages in the Psalter of Pope Paul III (Paris, BnF, ms lat.8880, ff.182v-183, on which see J.J.G. Alexander, The Painted Page, 1994, no 129), using paler colours and a greater use of bare vellum grounds often with fine gold horizontal hatching. This artist is notable for his naturalistic human faces in profile (ff.9v, 12) and a highly naturalistic bird (f.14) and butterfly (f.17v). The profile face on f.35v is extremely like that on f.9v, while the initial on f.47v is very like those on f.13v and 17v, allowing us to attribute these two pages to the same artist. This section includes the date 1539, and is thus contemporary with Michelangelo's work on the Last Judgment fresco in the Sistine Chapel -- widely believed to be his masterpiece -- which was begun in 1535 and finished in 1541.
The third quire contains the work of perhaps two more artists: that on ff.19v and 21 falls somewhere between the styles of the first two, while that on ff.22-23 introduces fine pen-sprays emanating from bezants on the plain vellum ground but is otherwise very similar to the artist of the first quire. There is yet more variation in the following pages (ff.23v-27), including the wonderful blue-face-and-foliage ornament in the margin of f.25v, suggesting the possible involvement of more artists, or a deliberate attempt by the main artists to avoid repetition.
The artist responsible for the two most important pages (ff.42 and 70), was Apollonio de' Bonfratelli (c.1500-1575), who in 1556 succeeded Vincent Raymond as official illuminator of the Sistine Chapel. We are grateful to Emilia Talamo for this attribution, independently confirmed by Maria Saffiotti Dale. Apollonio presumably worked on the present volume c.1555 when two other volumes were added to the set.
Manuscripts made for the Sistine Chapel were the subject of the recent exhibition 'The Lost Manuscripts from the Sistine Chapel' in Dallas, transferring to Madrid later this year, with a catalogue by E. de Laurentiis and E.A. Talamo. The Manchester volumes are studied in detail by C. Mochi, 'Il messale di Pompeo Colonna: antichità ed egizianismi a Roma', in S. Colonna (ed.), Roma nella svolta tra Quattro e Cinquecento, 2004, pp.439-52.
The subjects of the two miniatures by Apollonio de' Bonfratelli are as follows:
f.43 The Presentation in the Temple, a very large miniature, eight lines high, overlaid with an initial 'S' on a trompe-l'oeil flap of vellum, and a camaïeu-d'or border ornament almost the full height of the page
f.70 A large panel, eight lines high, containing the letter 'T'(e igitur) and Christ in the Tomb held by two angels
The initials and border ornaments by the other artists are:
f.1 Initial D, St John the Evangelist, foliate border ornament
f.1v Initial C, St Mark, border ornament with masks and Colonna arms
f.2v Initial M composed of dolphins
f.3 Initial D, St Matthew, blue foliate border ornament
f.3v Initial I, border ornament with 'IHS' monogram
f.4 Initial C, green foliate border ornament with mask
f.4v Initial S, border ornament with half-length male nude
f.5 Initial D, St Luke, border ornament with half-length female nude carrying an amphora on her head
f.6 Initial O, St Gregory(?)
f. 6 Initial I
f.6v Initial U, St Jerome, foliate border ornament
f.7 Initial S, foliate border ornament with a woman carrying one child and leading another by its hand
f.7v Initial O, St Augustine(?), green foliate border ornament
f.8 Initial M, border ornament with a female personification of Justice
f.9v Initial V, partly formed of a human face in profile, enclosing an Agnus dei, gold foliate border ornament on a blue panel
f.12 Initial C, profile bust of a female saint, with a ladybird/beetle, foliate border ornament
f.13v Initial H composed of a bird-hybrid with a snake in its beak, and border ornament with a winged female nude figure and an armillary sphere
f.14 Initial P within which perches a naturalistic woodpecker, foliate border ornament
f.15 Initial S with pearls and intaglio gemstones, border ornament of honeysuckle(?) growing around a bamboo trellis
f.16v Initial M, border ornament with half-length nude male figure carrying a basket on his head
f.17 Initial D with Colonna arms surmounted by a green bishop's hat, border ornament with winged cherub's head, black intaglio gemstone, and cartouche with the date 21 May 1539
f.17v Initial C composed of entwined dolphins, enclosing a naturalistic butterfly/moth, border ornament including interlace designs on an interlace panel
f.19v Initial C, border ornament with half-length female nude with a basket of fruit on her head
f.21 Initial S, foliate border ornament
f.22 Initial D, foliate border ornament with mask
f.22v Initial O, border ornament with black eagle
f.23 Initial I, foliate border ornament springing from a ram's head
f.23v Initial U, border ornament with winged female half-length nude
f.24 Initial S, foliate border ornament with naked infant
f.25 Initial O, child dressed in armour, foliate border ornament
f.25v Initial E, blue foliate border ornament with mask
f.26 Initial P, green foliate border ornament with mask
f.27 Initial U, St Ambrose, blue foliate border ornament with mask
f.35v Initial D, partly formed of a human face in profile, enclosing an antique cameo, foliate border ornament with putto
f.47v Initial H, partly formed of a dolphin with a papal bulla(?) hanging from its mouth, border ornament with a deacon(?) kneeling behind a priest at an altar, the Dove of the Holy Spirit above, a human head below