Christie’s: London, 18 June 2013


AUCTION: Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s, South Kensington, Tuesday 18 June 2013 at 10.00 am (lots 1-235), 85 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3LD.

The following entries are of particular interest:

CHRIST BEFORE THE APOSTLES, historiated initial on a leaf from a Missal, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [Northern Italy, late 14th century] 370 x 265 mm.
Folio no ‘135’ in pencil, 12 lines of text per page in a very fine formal rounded Italian bookhand, using c-cedilla for ‘z’ in ‘batizantes’ (line 10, recto), the text covering the end of the Friday and the beginning of the Saturday after Easter, including on the verso the rubric for Saturday, ‘Sabbato in albis; statio ad sanctum Johannem in Laterano. Introitus’, and the Introit itself, ‘Aduxit [sic] dominus populum suum’, illustrated with a LARGE HISTORIATED INITIAL DEPICTING CHRIST BEFORE A GROUP OF FIVE DISCIPLES, against a diaper ground, two foliate initials against burnished gold grounds (minor losses of gold in the outer border of the main initial). Glazed on both sides, in giltwood frame. A charming and unusual example of Italian illumination showing influence from north of the Alps.

ST DOMINIC, initial ‘I’ cut from an illuminated manuscript choirbook on vellum [Florence, c.1490] 400 x 150mm overall, irregularly cut at right edge (slight surface abrasions).
St Dominic, shown within a roundel on the initial, suggests it was once in a choirbook made for a Dominican church. The Evangelist’s eagle in the roundel above the initial may indicate that the chant opened with the beginning of the Gospel of John, ‘In principio’. This is a handsome and highly decorative initial characteristic of Florentine illumination of the latter part of the 15th century. The use of golden sprays and white flowers to decorate dark grounds is closely comparable to that found in manuscripts from the workshop of Giovanni di Giuliano Boccardi (1460-1529), known as Boccardino il Vecchio.

ST DOMINIC, historiated initial ‘M’ on a cutting from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT CHOIR BOOK ON VELLUM [Ferrara, c.1470s] 170 x 121mm.
The initial in blue and green with strawberry terminals against a ground of burnished gold, partial musical notation (minor losses of gold). In a giltwood frame carved with putti, glazed on both sides (some loss of gilding). The initial likely opens the first response for the first nocturn of Matins of the feast of St. Dominic, ‘Mundum vocans ad Agni nuptias’. The style of the illumination indicates that the intact manuscript was produced in north-eastern Italy, probably Ferrara. There are strong compositional parallels between the present cutting, with its bright, vibrant palette, strawberry terminals and the figure set against a deep pink background with delicate gold infill, and an initial ‘M’ cut from a Ferrarese Antiphonal in the Free Library of Philadelphia (Lewis EM 26:16).

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