THE RESURRECTION, large historiated initial on a leaf from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [Germany, second half 12th century].
255 x 168mm. The initial ‘R’ with Christ emerging from his tomb; on the verso an initial ‘P’ in red opening a troped introit for Easter with staff notation beginning ‘Postquam factus homo tua iussa paterna peregi’, followed by an added chant for Benedict beginning ‘Sanctus pater Benedictus’ with staffless neumes (small repaired loss and wormhole to the stave of the ‘R’, minor pigment loss, possible later repainting to the figures of the sleeping soldiers, some creasing and marginal soiling, text and neumes on verso occasionally faded). Mounted and framed. Provenance: (1) the style of decoration indicates that the parent manuscript was produced in Germany in the second half of the 12th century and the set of tropes on the verso confirms this: they are found in St Gall, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 381, and continued to be copied until the end of the 12th century throughout German-speaking areas (in, for example, Kremsmünster, Stiftsbibliothek, MS 309). (2) ‘E. cod. Ris[…]?’ modern inscription in pencil on verso, with the number ‘182’.
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND INTRIGUING SURVIVAL OF A DECORATED TROPER AND A SPLENDID EXAMPLE OF TWELFTH-CENTURY GERMAN MANUSCRIPT PAINTING.
The subtle, almost primary palette of pale yellows, reds, blues and greens and the elegant poised figures clearly outlined in ink and with cheeks touched red are hallmarks of the finest-quality 12th-century German manuscript painting (see, for example, the near-parallel scene depicting the Women at the Tomb in the 12th-century Siegburg Lectionary, BL, Harley 2889, f.41; or the c.1180 Prayerbook of Hildegard of Bingen, Munich, Staatsbibliothek, Clm 935). Painted decoration is very rare in tropers, the books that contain the musical and textual additions to liturgical chants: in the few that survive – namely Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, MS 1169; Paris, BnF, MS lat. 9448; Bamberg, Staatsbibliothek, MS Lit. 5; London, BL, MS Cotton Caligula A.xiv, ff.1-36; Rome, Biblioteca Angelica, MS 123 – the figural scenes take the form of miniatures or unframed drawings rather than historiated initials as the present leaf. Given the anomalous manuscript context of a full-page historiated initial being followed by a troped introit upon the page turn, it is tempting to suggest that the Resurrection miniature was conceived as a stand-alone piece (perhaps a pattern-sheet), and that the text was added at a later stage.
The trope texts are edited in Gunilla Björkvall et al., Cycle de Pâques, Corpus Troporum III, Tropes du propre de la messe, Stockholm, 1982. Each trope element is followed by a cue for the portion of the introit that is to be sung thereafter.