THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN, historiated initial 'D' on a leaf from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT GRADUAL ON VELLUM
[Seville, second half of 15th century].
855 x 573mm (leaf), 170 x 165mm (initial). The Pharisee holds a scroll with a line from Luke 18:11: 'Deus gratias ago tibi quia non sum sicut ceteri hominum' and the Publican has the caption 'Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori' (Luke 18:13); full borders of colourful plush acanthus leaves, scrolling penwork and gold discs (upper margin slightly cropped, reinforced with a strip of paper at left edge, small repairs on verso, light smudging to right border). Framed.
The initial introduces the mass for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost: 'Deus in loco sancto suo'. The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican appears only in Luke, and tells of the need to pray humbly: the Pharisee, confident in his piety and believing himself superior to others, asks God for nothing, and consequently receives nothing. But the Publican comes to God in humility, thus receiving the mercy for which he asks.
A MAGNIFICENT EXAMPLE OF THE ILLUMINATION OF THE MASTER OF THE CYPRESSES FROM ONE OF THE GREAT SERIES OF CHOIRBOOKS MADE FOR SEVILLE CATHEDRAL. This impressive initial is the work of the artist known as the Master of the Cypresses, who contributed to more than eighty miniatures in twenty-two of the Seville Cathedral choirbooks, one of the most ambitious manuscript commissions of the 15th century (see D. Angulo Iñiguez, 'El maestro de los cipreses (1434)', Archivo Español de Arte y Arqueología, XI, I, 1928, pp.65-96). The vibrant colours, emphatic modelling and dramatic composition are all characteristic features of his style. The Master has been identified with the documented painter and illuminator Nicolás Gómez, who worked on the Seville choirbooks from 1454 to 1496, and also on a manuscript for Isabella the Catholic (R. Marchena Hidalgo, 'Nicolás Gómez, miniaturista, pintor e ilustrador del siglo XV', Colleción Arte hispalense, 81, Seville, 2007), and he has been credited with founding a truly individual Sevillan style of painting. The present leaf is from the same manuscript as one in the Alice T. Miner Museum in Chazy, New York and other sister leaves include a cutting in the Getty (85.MS.211) and another leaf sold at Christie's, New York (21 March 2005, lot 1): Illuminated Manuscripts in Cambridge, eds N. Morgan, S. Panayatova and S. Reynolds, II, vol.1, 2011, no 373.