The Master of the Donato Commission


ARTICLE: Lilian Armstrong, The Master of the Donato Commission: Four Choirbooks, in Bollettino d’Arte, s. VII, C, 2015, fasc. 28, pp. 35-60.

The article argues that a heretofore unpublished choirbook known as the Durant Gradual (Wellesley College Library, MS 2), was illuminated by the Master of the Donato Commission and another master in the 1430s in Venice or the Veneto. The Durant Gradual contains the Temporale chants for the entire year, and the author has discovered that its counterpart Sanctorale, with evidence of the same provenance, is in the British Library (Add. MS 18161).

The two choirbooks may have been commissioned by the Benedictine nuns of San Zaccaria in Venice. They are closely related to a previously published two–volume Gradual, illuminated by the well–known miniaturist, Cristoforo Cortese (act. 1390s–c.1445), in collaboration with the Master of the Donato Commission in Venice probably slightly later in the 1430s (Venezia, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, MS Lat. III, 18 [=2283, 2284]).

It has also been possible to reconstruct a fragmented Antiphonary illuminated by the Master of the Donato Commission (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Douce a.1 and London, British Library, Add. MS 22310). Collectively, these commissions greatly expand the oeuvre of the Master of the Donato Commission, proving him to be a significantly more important contemporary of Cristoforo Cortese than has previously been recognized.

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