CHRIST APPEARING TO THE THREE MARIES, in an initial A on the verso of a leaf from an Antiphonal, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
575 x 394mm (leaf); 203 x 200mm (initial). Within a broken fence, the Risen Christ blesses the Three Maries, the front two pointing to him past their ointment pots, in the midground Sts John and Peter inspect the empty tomb, behind them a landscape of walled towns, mountains and a lake and a ground of burnished and tooled gold extending to an illusionistic frame of carved stone with a rope motif; the initial with staves patterned with acanthus; a three-sided border of tendrils enclosing areas of burnished gold with terminals of acanthus, stylised flowers and fruit, inhabited by four birds and a rabbit, and interspersed with burnished gold disks and penwork tendrils; six four-line musical staves ruled in red with square neumes, some later notation, above six lines of text written in black ink in a large gothic bookhand, justification width: 265mm; large calligraphic initial on recto (the initial cut out and then replaced with slight paint losses to the frame, areas lightly rubbed, some slight re-inking of text). Framed.
The initial opens the first response for Matins on Easter Day: Angelus domini descendit de celo... (Matthew 18, 2). The leaf has been recognised by Ulrich Merckl as coming from a dismembered volume from the great set of choirbooks begun in 1494 for the Convent of Poor Clares in Munich, St Jakob am Anger, which was secularised in 1803. The date, with other details of the 'magnificent' and 'outstanding work', is given in the colophon of one of the three Antiphonal volumes that survive in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, with two Gradual volumes (Clm. 23041, 23042, 23043.1-3). There were originally twelve choirbooks in the set and, including lot 9, twenty-one other leaves from dismembered volumes are known (see below and U. Merckl, Buchmalerei in Bayern in der ersten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts, 1999, Kat.41).
Merckl identifies the illuminators as members of the workshop of Georg Beck, active in Augsburg 1490-c.1512, with Ulrich Taler painting the large miniatures and three hands responsible for the initials. This fine initial, which conflates the different Gospel accounts of the Resurrection, is apparently by the third hand, since there are striking similarities with his initial of the Appearance of the Resurrected Christ (Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Inv.39898, Hans Holbein der Ältere und die Kunst der Spätgothik, exh. cat. Augsburg, 1965, Abb.237). The distinctive figures, with their play of curves and verticals, are shown in settings detailed with a characteristically careful and finished technique. The tooled gold background is more typical of the fourth hand, see lot 9, showing that the illuminators worked in close collaboration on this great and impressive project.
Sotheby's, London, 21 June 1988, lot 22; Voelkle and Wieck, no 46.
Lot 9; Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlumg, Inv. 24365, 24366, 24368, 24369, 24370, 34039, 34041, 39898, 39899, 90102, 90103, 90104, 90105, 90106, 90115, 90116; Nuremberg, Germanisches Museum, Mm 93, 108; ex-Collection Robert Ferrer, Strasbourg.