THE VISITATION and ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN on two leaves from a Book of Hours, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[Veneto, last quarter of the 14th century]
135 x 96mm. Each miniature is above three lines of text written in a round Gothic bookhand, one-line initials with staves of burnished gold with grounds and infills of blue and pink, three-line initials with staves of burnished gold with grounds and infills in combinations of blue, green, red and pink, the page framed and divided by decorated, diapered bands of burnished gold, below the text enclosing two quadrilobes with bust-length saints on burnished gold grounds, acanthus patterns in blue, pink, red and green between the saints and beside the large initial (losses from burnished gold grounds). Mounted on velvet in a gilt wood frame.
The two leaves, presumably opening Lauds and Compline of the Office of the Virgin, come from the same Book of Hours as a leaf with the Ascension of Christ in the Martello Collection, New York-Florence (M. Boskovits, The Martello Collection, pp.146-7) and a leaf with the Entombment in La Spezia, Museo Civico, Inv. 584 (F. Todini ed., La Spezia, Museo Communale Amadeo Lia, Miniature, pp.108-9). They have been compared to Venetian manuscripts, such as the Mariegola of the Venetian Wool Guild of 1385 now in the Museo Correr in Venice and their sumptuous mosaic-like decoration is Venetian in style. The convincingly modelled figures show the influence of Bolognese illumination but spatial settings are eliminated to concentrate on the figures and their interactions. At the Visitation, the handmaids of the older Elizabeth reach forward protectively, while the Virgin's attendants look to each other as they comment on the event. In the second miniature, the Virgin overlaps the enclosing frame, the miracle of her bodily assumption to heaven partly expressed through the creative tension between surface pattern and three-dimensional illusion. (2)