THE RESURRECTION AND THE THREE MARIES AT THE TOMB, in an initial R on the verso of a leaf from a Gradual, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
503 x 341mm (leaf); 160 x 122mm (initial). The risen Christ, pointing to DATA EST MICHI, incised into the burnished gold ground, steps from a tomb with traceried openings draped with his grave clothes; below, an angel seated on the tomb lid extends an empty banderole towards the Three Maries, each holding an ointment pot, and three sleeping soldiers rest on the frame; the initial staves formed by an upright bitten by two winged dragons, merging into interlaced stems, all with leaf terminals; sewing holes above upper edge for cloth guard; nine four-line musical staves ruled in red with square neumes above nine lines of text written in black ink in a large gothic bookhand on nine horizontals ruled in red, justification: 370 x 244mm; foliation in red on verso .c.vii., rubrics in red, calligraphic initials in black and red, large initials with blue or red staves with penwork in the contrasting colour (minimal rubbing). Framed.
The leaf comes from a Gradual; the initial opens the introit of the Easter Mass: Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum... (I rose up and am still with thee..., Psalm 138, 18). The preceding 106 leaves would have contained the Temporal Masses from Advent. The foliation on the related leaf, lot 2, shows that Sanctoral and Communal formed a separate volume.
The magnificent dragon initial frames scenes enriched by narrative detail, from the soldiers resting their helmeted heads on their hands, through the angel with the face of light, to Christ with his words at the Ascension 'All power is given to me in heaven and in earth', Matthew 28, 18. Similar yet simpler initials are found in a Regensburg Golden Legend, dated 1282; the broad-faced figures with pink cheeks, a more delicate version of the doll-like conventions developed in the fourteenth century, are paralleled in a copy of the same text for the monastery of St Emmeran in Regensburg, dated 1295 (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 13029 and 14034, see F. Mütherich and K. Dachs, Regensburger Buchmalerei: von frühkarolingischer Zeit bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters, 1987, nos 66 and 69).
It has been suggested from the related leaf, lot 2, that the Gradual was made for the convent of Dominican nuns in Regensburg, founded in 1237 by Count Heinrch von Ortenburg and his Countess, Richza, and dedicated to the Holy Cross. Whatever its destination, the two-volume Gradual was a luxurious commission. The protective cloths over the initials were a recognition of the skill and precious materials lavished on the illuminations. The guards were probably of silk, itself an expensive material of high status, as in a Lectionary made for the nuns of the Holy Cross between 1267-71 (see M. Parkes, The Medieval Manuscripts of Keble College, Oxford, 1979, Ms 49, pp.227-42).
Sotheby's, London, 24 June 1986, lot 8; Voelkle and Wieck, no 35.
Lot 2; ?possibly leaves with the Ascension, Nativity, Pentecost, Entry into Jerusalem and St Peter freed from prison, Lucerne, H. Gilhofer and H. Ranschburg, Katalog XIX, n.d., nos 2-6.