MISSAL, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[eastern Flanders or Hainault, c.1520]
337 x 230mm. 189 leaves: 1-48, 57(of 8, lacking viii), 68, 77(of 8, lacking vii), 8-118, 127(of 8, lacking viii), 13-178, 187(of 8, lacking i), 19-238, 248+1, lacking a further leaf at end, likely four of the missing leaves with illumination, two columns of 23 lines written in black ink in a gothic bookhand between four verticals and 24 horizontals ruled in grey, justification: 237 x 68-20-68mm, rubrics in red, text capitals touched red, one-line initials of red and blue, two- to four-line initials alternately of red flourished violet and blue flourished red, some four-line initials of both colours, FOUR ILLUMINATED INITIALS and FOUR HISTORIATED INITIALS accompanied by three-sided trompe l'oeil borders, THREE LARGE MINIATURES with full-page borders, mostly of similar type but one with narrative scenes (a few tiny pigment losses, a small crease and a smudge in extremities of outer border of f.1). French 19th-century green morocco gilt (scuffed).
1. Benedictine Abbey of St Adrian, Geraardsbergen (Grammont), eastern Flanders. We are grateful to Dr Lorne Campbell for his identification of the arms on folios 1 and 89 as those of Jan de Broedere, alias van Coppenhole, Abbot of St Adrian's from 1506 until his death in 1526. The Missal was certainly intended for use in the abbey: the Collect for De sanctis ecclesie (f.104) names the principal relics 'contained in this church' as of Sts Adrian and Natalia, and St Adrian is given particular prominence among both the votive masses and the Sanctoral.
The dedication of the abbey, established at Geraardsbergen in 1071, changed from St Peter to St Adrian with the transfer in 1110 of the latter's relics. The efficacy of Adrian's relics as protection against plague and sudden death had wide renown; Louis XI of France made a substantial endowment to the abbey, partly to pay for four large bells, in order to enlist the aid of the saint. The king is shown in a miniature by the Master of the Older Prayerbook of Maximilian, accompanied by his queen and in prayer before the abbey's altar -- with a carved retable showing St Adrian standing on a lion's back -- in a manuscript Life of St Adrian in Vienna (ÖNB, Cod.ser.n.2619).
Although the 12th-century Lectern Bible (Schoyen collection) from the abbey is well known, the only other illuminated manuscript hitherto recognised as having come from St Adrian's is the four-volume Breviary in the library of the Abbey of Maredsous: T. Delforge, 'Le Bréviaire de Saint-Adrien de Grammont', Scriptorium, XII, 1958, pp.102-104 and L.M.J. Delaissé, 'Les Techniques du Livre dans le Bréviaire Bénédictin de Grammont', ibid, pp.104-107. Interestingly, that is of almost precisely the same dimensions as the present Missal.
The abbacy of de Broedere was a period of great prosperity and it was then that Jan Gossaert, perhaps at the expense of the abbot, painted the altarpiece of The Adoration of the Kings (National Gallery, London) for the chapel of the Virgin in the abbey's church. De Broedere is reported to have restored or built this chapel and it may be that he had this Missal made for use there.
The abbey was suppressed in 1797 and most of the buildings demolished in 1798.
Masses from the Temporal, from Easter Sunday to the 10th week after Pentecost ff.1-88v; Prefaces ff.89-93v; Canon of the Mass ff.94-101; Collect, Secret and Postcommunion of 28 votive masses ff.102-111v; Masses of Trinity, Holy Spirit, Holy Cross, Blessed Virgin Mary, Sts Peter and Paul, St Adrian, of the Dead ff.111v-122; Collect, Secret and Postcommunion of 14 Masses for the Dead ff.122-128; Lections for the Mass of the Dead for each day of the week ff.128-131v; Mass for the Dedication of the Church ff.131v-133v; Masses from the Sanctoral, from the Feast of the Annunciation (lacking opening leaf) to St Germanus (lacking final leaf) ff.134-189v.
The feasts from both Temporal and Sanctoral cover the period from Easter until the end of August, suggesting that this Missal was one volume of a set that covered the whole of the church year.
Although de Broedere turned to the court painter, Jan Gossaert, to furnish at least one altarpiece for the Abbey of Geraardsbergen, he apparently engaged local artists to decorate this Missal. A Ferial Psalter with a Calendar for the use of Geraardsbergen (Sotheby's, 1 December 1987, lot 39) has flourished initials so closely similar to those of the present manuscript that they appear to be the work of the same hand.
The borders accompanying the miniatures and illuminated initials offer a wide range of the decorative types associated with Ghent-Bruges style: from simple strewn flowers and architectural framing to narratives set in a continuous landscape. These, as the miniatures, appear to be the work of a single illuminator. His style -- the lack of interest in relief or volume, the ample, rather static figures, with large features set in broad faces, and placed in settings shown from a high viewpoint -- fits comfortably as a development from the work of the Master of Antoine Rolin, who illuminated books at Mons for the court of Philip the Fair (d.1506): Anne-Marie Legaré, 'The Master of Antoine Rolin: a Hainaut Illuminator Working in the Orbit of Simon Marmion', Margaret of York, Simon Marmion, and "The Visions of Tondal", ed. Thomas Kren (1992), pp.209-222. The miniatures of the Geraardsbergen Missal are colourful, full of incident and detail and are a fascinating addition to the picture of the artistic heritage of one of the most renowned religious institutions of the southern Netherlands.
f.1 Miniature of the Resurrection, with the central figure of the risen Christ, sleeping soldiers in the foreground; the sequence of subsequent events shown in the landscape behind culminating in the Ascension shown in the right distance; surrounded by an elaborate carved architectural frame with the arms of Abbot Jan de Broedere.
f.29 Miniature of the Ascension, with the Virgin and the Apostles in front of a hillock with Christ's footprints, Christ's lower legs and feet disappearing into a cloud above; accompanied by a border with entwined branches and naturalistic sprays of fruit and flowers on grounds of pink and yellow.
f.29v Illuminated initial and a three-sided border with monochrome balusters, vases, heads in medallions, putto and swags on a ground of blue.
f.56 Miniature of the Veneration of the Host, inside a church the celebrant, surrounded by kneeling deacons and acolyte, stands before the altar holding a monstrance displaying the Host to a kneeling congregation of men and women; accompanied by a border with typological scenes of the sacrament.
f.56v Illuminated initial and a three-sided border with naturalistic fruit and flowers on a liquid gold ground.
f.89 Illuminated initial with the arms of Jan de Broedere; and a three-sided border with divided ground of pink, blue with liquid gold decoration and liquid gold with pink interlace.
f.94 Initial with the Mass of St Gregory; and a full-page border with a monochrome branch, sprays of flowers, insects and a bird against a yellow ground.
f.102 Illuminated initial and a three-sided border with monochrome branches against a pink ground.
f.131v Initial with Jacob's dream, the sleeping patriarch with two angels on a ladder behind him; and a three-sided border with flowers and a butterfly on a yellow ground.
f.165v Initial with John the Baptist in a landscape with the Agnus Dei, accompanied by a three-sided border with a divided ground of green, pink and yellow with camaïeu d'or branches and flowers.
f.170 Initial with Sts Peter and Paul in a landscape; and a three-sided border with flowers and insects on a yellow ground.