NOTED MISSAL, Carthusian use, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
Santa Maria del Paular, Castile, 1500-1501330 x 230mm. 254 leaves: i + 16, 2-1510, 1611(ix a tipped-in singleton), 179(of 10, lacking iii), 18-2510, 2610(including pastedown), original foliation i-ccxlvii in red beginning after Calendar and skipping inserted leaf before cxlix, followed here, many signature marks survive in outer lower corners, two columns of 28 lines in black ink in an upright gothic bookhand of two sizes, within a frame-ruling of double lines across margins, two central verticals and 28 horizontals, all ruled in red, justification: 215 x 62-16-62mm, rubrics in red or pink, instructions to the celebrant underlined in red, text capitals touched yellow, two-line initials alternately of red or blue with flourishing of violet or blue respectively, three- and five-line puzzle initials of red and blue with involved flourishing of violet and red, EIGHTEEN FULL-PAGE PENWORK BORDERS combining interlace, scrolling whorls and hairline tendrils with yellow flowerheads, TWO ILLUMINATED INITIALS AND BORDERS, one with bar border and one with full-page border, both with sprays of flowers and birds on grounds of liquid gold, patterned cloth fore-edge tabs and staggered semi-circular excisions in some folios to assist place-finding (slight pigment loss from outer illuminated border, some darkening and spotting of margins around Canon of Mass). Contemporary panelled leather stamped in blind and gilt, tools including heads-in-medallion roll, dolphins and fleurons, spine gilt in six compartments with arabesque tool (joints split, extremities rubbed, lacking clasps).
Santa Maria de El Paular, Rascafria, Castile: in the colophon on f.248v the scribe states that the manuscript was begun on the 15 March 1500 and was finished in the following year, 1501, on 30 May. He identified himself as a professed monk of the Charterhouse of Las Cuevas [in Seville] working in 'esta casa de sancta maria del paular'. The monastery, 22 kilometres south-east of Segovia in the province of Madrid, was founded by Juan I of Castile who gave his palace El Poblar for the purpose: it was the first Carthusian house in Castile. It remained a royal foundation and by the time that this manuscript was written the monastic buildings had been enlarged and remodelled for Isabel the Catholic by her architect Juan Guas.
Calendar ff.i-vi; Missal for Carthusian use, Temporal from the first Sunday in Advent to Palm Sunday followed by the Gloria and Credo ff.1-148bis; Prefaces ff.149-152; Canon of the Mass ff.154-161v; Sanctoral from the feast of the Birth of St Stephen to the Conception of the Virgin ff.162-220; Common of Saints ff.220-222; Prayers ff.222-237; Votive Masses for the Virgin, Trinity, Angels, Holy Spirit, Cross and Wounds of Christ ff.237-244v; instructions for celebration of masses for Corpus Christi and the professions of novices ff.244v-246v; Prayer, Secret and Alleluia for the feasts of St Bruno and St Jerome ff.247r and v, and in a different hand St Joseph f.248; prayer for the Pope, Philip the Fair etc added in a later hand on f.248v.
This is a particularly careful and polished production, appropriate for use in a royal foundation: from the colophon it could be inferred that the guest monk was brought to Santa Maria del Paular specifically for his professional skills as a scribe. It was not only immaculately but practically produced: the contemporary foliation provides the means of cross-referring from incipits in later Masses to the full earlier appearance of a text. The semi-circular notches cut from the lower margins of several of the most frequently used sections of the Missal were another practical feature: in staggered positions, they ensured that no more than a single page was turned at a time.
The decoration of the manuscript is of an equal elegance. The penwork initials and borders combine the delicate curling tendrils often associated with Catalan manuscripts with denser strips of spirals and mudejar-influenced interlace close to that in works attributed to a Seville atelier: F. Spalding, Mudejar ornament in manuscripts, 1953, see also F. Avril et al, Manuscrits enluminés de la Péninsule Ibérique, nos 133, 235 and 162, pls cxiv, cxviii and cxix. It may be that the scribe from Seville was also responsible for the penwork decoration. The illuminated borders show the highly decorative and idiosyncratic response of Spanish illumination to contemporary Flemish scatter borders.
A more modest 15th-century Missal from the monastery is now in the Hispanic Society of New York (HSA16).