Entries Tagged as 'christies’'

Collections and Collecting Art


CONFERENCE: Collections and Collecting Ancient, Byzantine and Medieval Art, Christie’s Education London, 153 Great Titchfied Street, W1W London, 23 March 2017.

Collecting Ancient and Medieval art attracts both academic and public curiosity because the objects (and structures) in question are not only often extremely rare, but also have fascinating histories. The ability to possess a piece of our past has allowed collectors throughout the centuries to create a continuity between that past and their present.

This conference will explore the history of Ancient, Byzantine and Medieval collections, how they were originally formed, how objects survive and in what contexts, and how certain collections themselves live on.

It will also address how the collections of the past may be reflected in the way that we approach collecting today, the theoretical and the historical framework of collections, how they are currently presented, as well as some of the controversies in the field. Equally, the problems and issues underlying the collecting of Ancient and Medieval art, and the knowledge required to authenticate them will be discussed.


SECTION I: Ancient and Medieval Collections
(Chair: Cecily Hennessy, Christie’s Education)
* Maeve O’Donnell-Morales (Courtauld Institute of Art), Collecting liturgical objects in thirteenth and fourteenth-century Castile
* Emily Guerry (University of Kent), The saint-king’s collection: The treasure of grande châsse in the Sainte-Chapelle
* Zoë Opačić (Birkbeck, University of London), ‘Through me rulers rule’: A Curious History of Imperial Coronation Regalia
* Amy Smith (University of Reading), E.P. Warren, Greek art and the Pan Painter.

SECTION II: New Approaches to Collections
(Chair: Sadie Pickup, Christie’s Education)
* Amy Jeffs (University of Cambridge), The Digital Pilgrim Project: Approaching large collections of miniature art
* Peter Toth (British Library), From Monastic Libraries to Computer Screens: Collecting Late Antique Illumination through the Centuries
* Anna Kelley (University of Birmingham), Collections, Controversies and the Copts: Deciphering the Late Antique Textiles of Egypt.

SECTION III: Private and Public Collections
(Chair: Jana Gajdošová, Christie’s Education)
* Michael Carter (English Heritage), The intersection between collecting and scholarship: some personal experience
* Naomi Speakman (British Museum), Exploring the Collection of George R Harding
* Claudio Corsi (Christie’s, London), Title to be Confirmed.

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Script and Illumination at Christie’s


ONLINE AUCTION – Script and Illumination: Leaves from Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, Christie’s, 29 November 2016.

Christie’s Books and Manuscripts Department is delighted to present its second Online Only auction of Medieval and Renaissance leaves and cuttings. With estimates starting from £500, the sale is full of sparkling examples of manuscript production across Europe, with a particular focus on the art of illumination in Italy. Spanning the course of five centuries, the sale features splendid survivals from secular and religious texts alike – including leaves from renowned codices such as the Hungerford Hours and the Bessarion antiphonals – illuminated by artists of the calibre of Attavante degli Attavanti, Bonifacio Bembo, Neri da Rimini and Don Simone Camaldolese.

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Creating Markets, Collecting Art (Christie’s)


CONFERNCE: Creating Markets, Collecting Art, London, Christie’s King Street, 14 – 15 July 2016. Ticket Price: £140. Student Concessions: £120.

To commemorate the anniversary of the foundation of Christie’s auction house in 1766 a two-day conference will be held at Christie’s King Street, St James’s. Organised by Christie’s Education, and celebrating 30 years of the Christie’s Education Trust, the theme of Creating Markets, Collecting Art has been chosen to reflect a progressive, collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach to the study of works of art. The conference is designed to explore the interrelationship between commerce, collecting and the idea of the ‘academy’ and how this has evolved over time.

The conference comprises a mixture of academic sessions and panel discussions. These will explore the idea of collecting – historically, theoretically and in a contemporary context. Confirmed keynote speakers at the Conference include Professor Craig Clunas, University of Oxford and Dr Inge Reist, Director of the Center for the History of Collecting, The Frick Collection and Frick Art Reference Library.

Panel Discussions

1. Looking to Africa: Cultural Patronage and Artistic Legacy
Convenor: Koyo Kouoh

2. The Future of the Art Market
Convenor: Giovanni Gasparini

3. Collecting for the Nation
Convenor: Prof Brandon Taylor.


1. Creating the Market for Old Master Paintings: Innovative dealers active between 1820 and 1920 [more]
Convenor: Dr Susanna Avery-Quash, The National Gallery, London

2. Pioneers of the Global Art Market: International Dealer Networks from the Mid-Nineteenth through the Mid-Twentieth Century
Convenor: Dr Christel Hollevoet-Force, Associate Research Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

3. Provenance and Due Diligence in a Global Context [more]
Convenor: Dr Christa Roodt, Research Lecturer in Art, Law and Business, University of Glasgow

4. Collectors of Contemporary Art: Tastemakers or Market Makers
Convenor: Dr Véronique Chagnon-Burke, Academic Director, Christie’s Education, New York

5. The Sales-Room as Social-Cultural Space
Convenor: Prof Anne Helmreich, Texas Christian University

6. Collectors of Modern Art Prints and Ephemera [more]
Convenors: Prof Ruth E. Iskin, Department of Arts, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Dr Britany Salsbury, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, Art Museum, Rhode Island School of Design

7. Home Subjects: the Art Market and the Domestic Sphere in Britain
Convenors: Dr Morna O’Neill, Wake Forest University and Dr Anne Nellis Richter, American University, Washington D.C.

8. “Nothing like the real thing!” Connoisseurship; Dead or Alive in the Digital Age?
Convenor: Elizabeth Herridge, Arts and Arts Management Consultant

9. Christie’s and the birth of the European art market
Convenor: Prof Filip Vermeylen, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

10. Priceless: The Value of the Invaluable [more]
Convenors: Prof Jan Baetens and Dr Helleke van den Braber, Radboud University Nijmegen

11. Moving Objects: Representations of Chinese Art in Europe
Convenors: Nixi Cura and Dr Monica Merlin, Christie’s Education London.

12. The Rise of the Latin American Art Market
Convenor: Dr Diana Bramham, Specialist, Latin American Art Department, Christie’s, New York.

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Christie’s: London, 15 July 2015


AUCTION: Valuable Books and Manuscripts Including Cartography, Christie’s (King Street, London), Wednesday, 15 July 2015.

The following entries are of particular interest:

Lot 15
OFFICE FOR SAINT BERNARDINO OF SIENA, a fragment of 6 leaves, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [Italy, probably Abruzzo, between August 1471 and May 1472].

187 x 132mm. 6 leaves from a gathering of 8 (lacking ii and vii), written space 110 x 85mm. HISTORIATED INITIAL and TWO ILLUMINATED FOLIATE INITIALS with bar borders (slight marginal spotting and staining, tiny pigment losses). In a black hardback folder.

The historiated initial on the first leaf shows a Franciscan friar offering a book – presumably the book of which this gathering was once part – to a pope. The text which follows on the recto and verso of the first leaf is a fulsome dedication of the newly composed Office of San Bernardino which follows, incompletely, on the following 5 leaves. The dedication makes plain that the Franciscan author has been encouraged by his fellows and superiors to undertake this task to mark the impending Translation of Saint Bernardino’s relics, an honour to the saint authorised by the Pope. This is clearly the PRESENTATION COPY MADE FOR SIXTUS IV, builder of the Sistine Chapel and himself a Franciscan, and can be precisely dated between his election in August 1471, and the date of Bernardino’s Translation, in May 1472.

Saint Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444), a fervently austere member of the Observant branch of the Franciscans, was regarded as one of the greatest preachers of his age. His sermons, particularly castigating luxury, usury and sodomy, played an important role in the reforming religious revival in 15th-century Italy. Intending to extend his influence over the whole of Italy he set out to reach Naples but died in L’Aquila in 1444. The church of San Bernardino was built there to honour him and house his relics and it was apparently to commemorate the translation of his body there in 1472 that the present manuscript was made.

The charming and decorative initial is a rare example of precisely datable illumination. For illumination in Abruzzo see the exhibition catalogue, Illuminare l’Abruzzo: codici miniati tra Medioevo e Rinascimento, Chieti, 10 May – 31 May.

Lots 16 – 17
SIX ILLUMINATED AND HISTORIATED INITIALS FROM AN ILLUMINATED CHOIRBOOK ON VELLUM: (i) John the Baptist, historiated initial ‘V’; (ii) Mary Magdalene , historiated initial ‘N’; (iii) St Michael, historiated initial ‘N’; (iv) the Eucharist, historiated initial ‘P’; (v) the Holy Cross, historiated initial ‘C’; (vi) illuminated initial ‘G’.


On average 75 x 78mm (minor losses and rubbing to the gold and pigment, some darkening of the miniatures); laid down on card mounts, individually framed (the mounts lightly soiled).

The delicate handling of the faces with fine, softly curling hair and the convincing landscapes are those of the artist known as the Master B.F. (fl.1490-1545), the illuminator of a series of choirbooks for the Olivetan monastery of Santi Angelo e Niccolò in Villanova Sillaro at Lodi, near Milan. The stylistic resemblance of the present initials to those cut from the Santi Angelo e Niccolò choirbooks indicates that they were painted at the same time; the original set of probably twenty volumes was broken up in 1799 after the suppression of the monasteries, the initials extracted and dispersed. The Master B.F. – named for his monogram on other initials – remains without universally-accepted identification (see C. Quattrini in Dizionario Biografico degli miniatori italiani, ed. M. Bollati, 2004, pp.438-42), but prestigious commissions for Olivetan houses, including San Vittore al Corpo in Milan, exemplify the importance of this Milanese illuminator, whose debt to Leonardo can be seen in the intricately modelled figuration and craggy landscapes.

Lot 83
DANTE ALIGHIERI (1265-1321). La Commedia. Commentary by Cristoforo Landino (1424-1504), commendations by Marsilio Ficino (1433-99). Florence: Nicolaus Laurentii, 30 August 1481.

Royal 2° (385 x 252mm). Collation: p8 2p6 (p1 blank, p2r Landino’s introduction, 2p3v Ficino’s commendations, 2p6 blank; a10 b8 c-e10 f8 g10 h-i8 l10 m-n8 o-r10 s6 (a1 blank, Inferno text and commentary, engraved illustrations to the first two cantos on a2r and b1v); aa-gg10 hh12 ll-mm10 oo6 (aa1 blank, aa2r Landino’s prologue to Purgatorio, aa3r Purgatorio); A8 B-H10 I6 L12 (A1r Landino’s prologue to Paradiso, verso blank, A2r Paradiso, L10v colophon, L11-12 blanks). 367 leaves (of 372, without the blanks; p8, 2/2-4, a4.7, i3.6, ?ll9-10, mm10, F9,10 and possibly others supplied). 60 (or less) lines of commentary surrounding text, and headline. Type: 4b:115R (text), 5:91R (commentary). 2- to 16-line initial spaces, most with printed guide-letter.

TWO ENGRAVINGS BY BACCIO BALDINI AFTER BOTTICELLI illustrating cantos 1 and 2 of Inferno, 18/19th-century drawings imitating the engravings for cantos 3-19 supplied in pen and ink, traces of graphite and grey washes, pages opening each of the three parts with 18/19th-century illuminated initials on coloured grounds, the first two illuminated pages also with floral borders, opening page with illuminated floral and foliate decoration and two portrait roundels of Dante and Beatrice, most of the supplied leaves rubricated. (Engraving to canto I trimmed at bottom and reinforced on verso, occasional minor stains, repaired marginal tear in mm10, outer margin of p8 extended.) Brown morocco gilt by Roger de Coverly and Sons, gilt edges (minor scratch). Provenance: some early, scattered marginalia – 19th-century bookseller’s description in Italian — S.A. Thompson Yates (1894 bookplate; tipped-in letter to him from William Humphrey, 1903, sending a note on the engravings).

FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF DANTE, THE SECOND FLORENTINE ILLUSTRATED BOOK AND FIRST EDITION OF LANDINO’S COMMENTARY. This monumental edition was designed as a patriotic celebration of Florentine cultural superiority, made explicit in the prefatory essays by Landino and Ficino. The original plan had been to illustrate all the cantos, but only 19 of the 100 engravings were finally executed. Most copies, including this one, have only the first two engravings, which were printed directly on the page; only about twenty copies are known to contain the other seventeen engravings, which were pulled on separate slips and pasted into the spaces provided. See Hind, Early Italian Engraving I, 99-116. The engravings were previously thought to be based directly on a manuscript (now in Berlin and the Vatican) illustrated by Botticelli for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici, but the manuscript is now accepted to date from the 1490s. Both manuscript and printed edition may stem from an earlier version of Botticelli drawings, now lost. HC *5946; GW 7966; BMC VI, 628 (IC.27094-6); IGI 360; BSB-Ink. D-9; Sander 2311; Arnim 115; Goff D-29.

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CFP: Creating Markets, Collecting Art

CALL FOR PAPERS: Creating Markets, Collecting Art, London, Christie’s, King Street, 14 – 15 July 2016.

To commemorate the traditional founding date of Christie’s auction house in 1766, a two-day conference, 14 – 15 July 2016, will be held at Christie’s King Street, focussing on the theme of ‘Creating Markets and Collecting Art’.

Christie’s Education is known for its collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach to the study of works of art through its Master’s programmes in the History of Art and its Markets, Art-world Practice and Art, Law and Business internationally. This conference hopes to explore this cross-disciplinary area, looking at the interrelationship of commerce, collecting and the academy.

Proposals are invited for Academic Sessions. Sessions should engage with current scholarship on any aspect of the art market, in particular on creating markets, collecting, regulation and cultural heritage, from the eighteenth century to the present day, and in all geographical regions.

Session proposals may address the following:
– the role of the intermediary in the structure of art ecosystems
– the economics of taste and its relationship to value(s)
– how artefacts are transformed into works of art by the market and by enthusiasts and collectors
– the role of regulation and the law
– the auction house as cultural space
– current theoretical debates surrounding ‘aura’ and the making/meaning of authenticity.

Session proposals should include a title and abstract (maximum 250 words), the contact details of the convenor(s) and a brief biography. Please submit the Session Proposal Form by e-mail to the Conference Secretary.

Deadline: 1 June 2015. This will be followed by a Call for Papers in July 2015.

Source: H-ArtHist

Christie’s: London, 20 November 2013


AUCTION: Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books, Christie’s, London (8 King Street, St. James’s), Wednesday, 20 November 2013.

The following entries are of particular interest:

Lot 46
A COLLECTION OF OTTO EGE LEAVES, in Latin and Dutch, from nine ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS ON VELLUM [Italy, Netherlands, France, 13th–15th centuries]
10 leaves, most illuminated:
1) THE ENTOMBMENT, FULL-PAGE MINIATURE from a Book of Hours illuminated in the style of the Masters of Dirc van Delf, c.105 x 85mm, foliated ’25’ on the blank recto, [northern Netherlands, first decade 15th century];
2) THE LAST JUDGEMENT, FULL-PAGE MINIATURE WITH FULL BORDER from a Book of Hours illuminated by a follower of the Master of Guillebert de Mets, c.148x105mm, the originally blank recto with an added 16th-century inscription in French, [Flanders, mid-15th century];
3) THE CROSS IN A LANDSCAPE IN AN HISTORIATED INITIAL ‘D’, WITH A FULL RENAISSANCE BORDER, at the beginning of the Hours of the Cross from a Book of Hours, the verso with 12 lines in very finely written humanistic script by the Paduan scribe BARTOLOMEO SANVITO, c.120x80mm, [Italy, Rome, c.1480s]; [click here to learn more]
4) DEATH PERSONIFIED AS A CORPSE IN A TOMB IN AN HISTORIATED INITIAL ‘R’ WITH A FULL BORDER, from the Office of the Dead in a Book of Hours, the recto blank, c.110x78mm, [north-east Italy, perhaps Ferrara, c.1480];
5) an illuminated 5-line initial ‘D’ and border from a Book of Hours in Dutch, 16 lines, c.120x90mm, [northern Netherlands, c.1500];
6) leaf from a folio Bible, 2 columns of 60 lines, containing I Maccabees 4:12-6:1, red and blue initials, chapter numbers, and running titles, c.330x230mm [France, Paris?, mid-13th century];
7-8) two leaves from an illuminated Book of Hours, with 1- and 2-line initials, borders, and line-fillers, 15 lines per page written in a very calligraphic bâtarde, c.108x75mm [France, mid-15th century];
9) leaf from the Hours of the Holy Spirit in an illuminated Book of Hours, old foliation ’69’, c.160x118mm [France, first half 15th century];
10) leaf from an Ethiopian manuscript, written in Amharic in red and brown in two columns of 24 lines, c.190x165mm [Ethiopia, 19th? century]. Each mounted in a card folder.
An exceptionally fine group of leaves not from the fairly common portfolios put together by Ege, including a remarkable survival from a Book of Hours by the Paduan scribe Bartolomeo Sanvito (see A.C. de la Mare and L. Nuvoloni, Bartolomeo Sanvito: The Life and Work of a Renaissance Scribe, 2009, pp.276-278, no 79). Other leaves are at the Lilly Library, Boston University, Sweet Briar College, and Oberlin College, but none with historiated initials are known, nor any from the Hours of the Cross.

Lot 48
KING DAVID IN PRAYER, monumental initial ‘A’ on a leaf from a Gradual, on a collage of ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS ON VELLUM [Florence, last quarter of 15th century] (491 x 383 mm)
A COLLAGE OF THREE INITIALS: the initial ‘A’, 250 x 220mm, in pink, green, and blue, the stave inhabited by a priest and two musicians; within, David kneeling in prayer before the Virgin and Child in a crescent sun, all against a ground of burnished gold; an initial ‘D’, 100 x 150mm and an initial ‘S’, 95 x 120mm, both in red with green and blue foliage against grounds of burnished gold; four lines of text in gold alongside a miniature of a preaching Dominican, all within a full border inhabited with putti; the verso with five lines of text and music (there are seven parts to the collage: the large initial ‘A’, incipit to the first Sunday in Advent and most of the full-border are integral to the original leaf; the initials ‘D’ and ‘S’ and two strips of foliate border have been added beneath and alongside the large initial ‘A’ to conceal the original text of the Gradual; two smaller rectangular strips have been added to the right and top borders, likely concealing a coat of arms).
The initial ‘A’ would have opened the Introit for the first Sunday in Advent: ‘Ad te levavi animam meam’ from a choirbook made for a Dominican church. The highly decorative and colourful borders with putti and the bright palette are characteristic features of Florentine illumination of the latter part of the 15th century. Particularly striking and iconographically peculiar is the composition of the initial ‘A’, with David praying to the Virgin and Child (he is generally depicted praying to God or an angel). The hand is doubtless that of Giovanni di Giuliano Boccardi (1460-1529), known as BOCCARDINO IL VECCHIO, renowned for his sensitive rendering of figures and fascination for elaborate backdrops and ‘one of the last exponents of the golden age of Renaissance illumination’ (M. Bollati, Dizionario biografico dei Miniatori Italiani, 2004, p.113).

Lot 54
BOOK OF HOURS, use of Rome, in Latin, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM [north-eastern Italy, final quarter 15th century]
140 x 95mm. 182 leaves: 112, 2-810, 98, 102, 11-1210, 138, 14-1510, 168, 176, 18-1910, 208, COMPLETE. 12 lines written in black ink between 2 verticals and 13 horizontals ruled in pale brown, text justification: 70 x 35mm, rubrics in red, gold and blue, two-line initials of gold or blue with involved foliate flourishing the height of the page in the other colour, a few including figures, faces or an animal, FIVE LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS ACCOMPANIED BY FULL-PAGE INHABITED BORDERS OF COLOURED ACANTHUS ALL SET ON BURNISHED GOLD GROUNDS, a further SEVEN HISTORIATED INITIALS ACCOMPANIED BY FULL-PAGE FOLIATE BORDERS INCORPORATING BIRDS AND ANIMALS AND WITH ROUNDELS WITH HALF-LENGTH SAINTS IN THE LOWER MARGINS (inconsequential offsetting and spotting, cropping of top of flourish borders, a few small losses of pigment). 19th-century black morocco ruled and stamped in blind with silver filigree corner-pieces, clasp and catch (edges lightly scuffed, front hinge split). PROVENANCE:: (a) ‘Ioa. Ant. Victorius Firmanus I.V.D.’, his 18th-century armorial stamp with a palm tree and a star and the motto ‘HIS VINCITUR’, on front and back flyleaves. (b) Library of the Earl of Mountnorris, bookseller’s cutting pasted inside front doublure. CONTENT: Calendar ff.1-12v; Office of the Virgin ff.13-87v: lauds f.34, prime f.47v, terce f.52v, sext f. 57v, none f.62v, vespers f.66, compline f.75; Hours of the Cross ff.89-92; Office of the Dead ff.93-129v; Office of the Cross 131-153v; Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany ff.155-82. ILLUMINATION: A richly coloured and highly decorative manuscript: not only do the illustrated pages sparkle with the burnished gold grounds of their borders and large initials but even the text pages are liberally furnished with golden initials, rubrics and flourish borders. The lavish gold decoration combines with intense saturated pigments to opulent and vivid effect. The style seems a marriage of elements found in manuscripts produced in the Veneto and Lombardy, with the profusion of birds and animals in the borders recalling those in books produced for the court of Ferrara. The unusual flourishing in the margins seems a less refined version of the penwork borders found in a group of Venetian manuscripts S. Marcon, ‘Ornati di penna e di penello: appunti su scribi-illuminatori nella Venezia del maturo umanesimo’, La Bibliofilia, lxxxix (1987), pp.121-144. The subjects in the large historiated initials are as follows: Virgin and Child, border roundel with a shield for arms (charge erased) f.13; Man of Sorrows, border roundel with crosses at Calvary and the incipit of the prayer ‘Per signum crucis deinimicis’ f.89; Entombment of bearded man, border roundel with a skull and the incipit of the prayer ‘Pensa alla fine che die murire’ f.93; Crucifixion with John and the Virgin, an empty cross in the lower border f.131; David in Penitence, border roundel with David playing a psaltery and the incipit ‘In te domine speravi salvus’ f.155. The other historiated initials paired with roundels in the lower margins, both containing half-length saints are on ff. 34, 47v, 52v, 57v, 62v, 66, 75.

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Christie’s: London, 12 June 2013

Christie's 12 giugno 2013

AUCTION: Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s, London (8 King Street, St. James’s), Wednesday 12 June 2013.

The following entries are of particular interest:

THE THRONE OF MERCY, historiated initial ‘D’ on a leaf from an illuminated antiphonal on vellum [Bologna, c.1295-1300] 505 x 359mm (the leaf); 110 x 120mm (the initial). The initial in red, yellow and ivory-white on a ground of blue; within, the Throne of Mercy showing God the Father supporting the Cross with the body of Christ, the sun and moon above, all against a ground of burnished gold; seven lines of music and text on recto and verso (minor loss of burnished gold below the moon). Framed. Contemporary folio number ‘XXV’. The initial opens the Introit for the first Christmas Mass: ‘Dominus dixit ad me filius meus es tu’ (The Lord said to me, you are my son).
The present leaf is from a dismembered Antiphonal that, together with a series of Graduals, was commissioned for the Dominican convent of S. Agnese di Valdipietra in Bologna. The Graduals remain in Bologna (Mus. Civico mss 519, 520 & 521). Sixteen other fragments from the Antiphonal have been identified (Gaudenz Freuler, publication forthcoming). The style of the illuminator — theso-called Master of S. Agnese di Valdipietra — shows the strong influence of Byzantine art and the ‘primo stile’ characteristic of Bolognese workshops of the 13th century.
Freuler points to the evident compositional and figurative link with the Gerona Master, one of the most influential artists of his time. Other initials by the illuminator of the present leaf include BL Additional MS 18196, f.24; Bologna, Mus. Civico, ms. 518, f.199; London, Victoria and Albert Museum, ms. 953 (803-1894); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, No. 62.1361 and Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Inv. No. 40068 40068.

THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST, historiated initial ‘V’ on a leaf from an illuminated antiphonal on vellum [Venice, c.1325], 435 x 332mm (leaf); 110 x 112 (initial). The initial in pink and red on a ground of blue, acanthus terminals extending into the margin; the Virgin and the apostles within with Christ above in a mandorla borne by two angels; seven lines of music and text on recto and verso (some fading of text, tiny loss of pigment to the face of the Virgin). Framed.
The initial opens the Introit for the Mass of the Ascension: ‘Viri Galilei quid admiramini aspicientes in coelum?’ (Men of Galilee, why wonder you, looking up to heaven?). a striking and vibrant example of early fourteenth-century venetian illumination. The composition of the scene displays an eastern, Byzantine influence, and the heavily modelled faces, with brows and noses heightened by touches of white, indicate that the manuscript was produced in Venice during the first half of the 14th century. The patterned robes of the angels carrying Christ to Heaven and the minute detail of red and white dots outlining the halos of the Virgin, Christ and the angels are particularly distinctive. Identical details and a similar modelling of the figures are found in the original decoration of a Venetian Gradual produced for a Dominican house c.1325 (Fitzwilliam Museum, MS McClean 56: Morgan, Panayatova & Reynolds, Illuminated Manuscripts in Cambridge, 2011, Pt 2, vol.1, no 48). It is likely that the artist who was responsible for the first campaign of the Fitzwilliam Gradual was also responsible for the present manuscript. Localisation to Venice is supported by the close similarity in figure style and ornament to the very fragmentary Antiphonals of San Marco, one perhaps datable to 1318 (Venice, Archivio di Stato Proc. de supra, s. Chiesa, MSS Reg. 113 and Reg. 116).

THE DORMITION OF THE VIRGIN and THE ASSUMPTION OF THE VIRGIN, miniatures on both sides of a leaf from a Book of Hours, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Veneto, probably Padua, c.1340-1350] 131 x 94mm. On the recto, the Dormition of the Virgin against a ground of liquid gold, with the body of Mary surrounded by angels and Apostles, Christ holding her soul in the form of a young girl below ten lines of text closing Vespers, all within a full-page diapered border of black, gold and red; the verso with the Assumption of the Virgin against a ground of liquid gold, with Mary in a blue mandorla borne by two angels and the apostles looking on from below, three-line initial ‘C’ opening Compline, three lines of text, all within a similar full-page border, the lower segment with pink, green, red and blue flowers and two Saints (borders worn, with loss of pigment and darkening of colours, loss of burnished gold in several places, the recto with some browning and wear to the figures). Double-sided frame.
A charming and richly illuminated leaf from an exceptionally early italian book of hours. Books of Hours from the first half of the 14th century are extremely rare and it is only recently that any Italian examples have been identified, most notably the lavishly and inventively illuminated Officiolum of the poet Francesco da Barberino of c.1308 (Christie’s Rome, 5 December 2003, lot 404). Like other early Italian Hours the Officiolum was apparently painted in or around Padua by artists heavily reliant on Bolognese style. Such an origin seems likely for the present leaf with its vibrant palette and delicately modelled Giottesque figures. The profusion of illustration — two miniatures to open a single Hour — indicates that the parent manuscript must have been a remarkable luxury product. This leaf, like its sister folio (priv. coll. Switzerland), has great significance for Italian bibliographic and devotional history in addition to being a work of exceptional artistic quality.

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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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Christie’s: London, 27 November 2012

AUCTION: Fine Books and Manuscripts, Tuesday 27 November 2012, Christie’s, London, 85 Old Bromptom Road.

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Christie’s: London, 21 November 2012

AUCTION: Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books, Christie’s (8 King Street, St Jame’s, London), Wednesday, 21 November 2012. Viewing: 17-20 November.

The following entries are of particular interest:

The miniatures depict: 1) an ailing bishop suffering from a long illness being replaced by a younger man (Causa VII), the verso text from Causa VI, Quaestio IV, C.III-IV; 2) a bishop accused by a girl of fornication before a throng of clergy (Causa II), the verso text from Quaestio I, C.VII; 3) Causa XXVII opens ten cases concerning sex and marriage, on the left a man vowed to chastity pleads with the judge, on the right, his wife having rejected him marries someone else, the verso text from Quaestio I, C.VIII; 4) a dispute over the tithes of parishioners fleeing their baptismal church in times of war, three soldiers in the background while a group of men and women lay offerings at an altar attended by a priest (Causa XIII), the verso text from Quaestio I, C.I; 5) a bishop who has committed perjury and has compelled his clergy to an oath of obedience (Causa XXII), the verso text from Quaestio I, C.II; 6) a man, who lost and then regained his virility, appeals to the judge as his wife embraces another man on the right [Causa XXXIII], the verso text from Quaestio II, C.IV.

The miniatures depict: 1) an ailing priest lying in a bed surrounded by a crowd, the verso text from Causa XI, Quaestio III, C. CVIII; 2) an excommunicated man and a fourteen-year-old boy accuse a bishop who refuses to respond to charges brought improperly (Causa IV), the verso text from Quaestio II-III, C.III; 3) on the left, a bishop and clergy, on the right a king facing his court, the verso text from Distinctio III, C.III-IV; 4) the scene depicts Causa XVI, concerning the conflict between an abbot’s church to which he has appointed a monk as parish priest and the local baptismal church subject to the bishop: a kneeling priest celebrates Mass at an altar, the verso text from Quaestio I, C.III; 5) a group of clerics likely illustrating Causa XIV, which deals with the involvement of canons in commerce and lawsuits to recover debts, the verso text from Causa XIII, Quaestio II, C.XXVIII-XXIX; 6) a bishop conferring with a cleric and laymen appealing to a judge, likely illustrating Causa VI, the verso text from Quaestio I, C.IV-V. (Some fading to text on verso).

CHORISTERS SINGING, historiated initial ‘C’ cut from an ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT CHOIRBOOK ON VELLUM [Ferrara, c.1470]
124 x 115mm. The verso with 6 lines from the hymn ‘Summae Parens clementiae’ in a round gothic bookhand in black ink (slight smudging of the background, lectern and book). Provenance: stamp GW on verso and a note on the mount ‘Ex Coll. de Burlet’, presumably refering to the Berlin and Basel dealer and collector of paintings and drawings Charles Albert de Burlet (1882-1956).
No doubt illustrating the opening of Psalm 97, ‘Cantate domino’ in a Psalter/Hymnal, this initial is the work of the great Ferrarese illuminator Guglielmo Giraldi (fl. 1450-1490). His work for Lionello (1441-1450), Borso (1450-1471) and Ercole d’Este (1471-1505), along with his commissions for the Cathedral and for the Charterhouse of San Cristoforo brought him great renown. The decorative vocabulary and structure of the initial corresponds precisely to his work in the early 1470s before he left Ferrara for Mantua and the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro.

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Sotheby’s: London, 10 July 2012

AUCTION: Western Manuscripts and Miniatures, Sotheby’s (34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA UK), Tuesday, 10 July 2012.

The following entries are of particular interest:

A large leaf, 600mm. by 415mm., with a large initial ‘I’ (opening  “In  venit  se augustinus  longe  …”,  the  first  response  of  the  first  nocturn  of  Matins  for  the  feast  of  St.  Augustine  of  Hippo,  28  August),  190mm.  by  75mm.,  the  saint  with  a  brightly  burnished  halo,  holding  a  book  and  a  staff  within  a  soft  brown  portico  with  a  blue  interior  heightened  with  curling  white  penwork,  within  thick  gold  frame,  coloured  acanthus-leaf  foliage  extending  on  three  sides  of  borders,  enclosing  two  roundels  (with  a  pope  seated  writing  and  St.  Augustine  before  a  Dominican  friar  preaching  to  a  crowd)  joined  by  a  geometric  design  in  the  bas-de-page,  5  lines  of  text  in  brown  ink  in  a  late  gothic  hand  with  music  on  a  4-line  red  stave,  the  same  and  a  red  initial  on  verso,  4  lines  of  tiny  instructions  to  illuminator  in brown  ink  on  head  of  recto,  nineteenth-century  folio  number  “82”  and  pencil  “No.18”  on  recto,  nineteenth-century  Italian  and  French  export  stamps  on  verso,  some  slight  cockling,  crease  to  base  (with  minor  crackling  to  roundels)  slight  flaking  from  legs  of  the  saint  and  slight  smudge  to  face,  scuffing  to  gold,  else  good  condition. Estimate: 4,000-6,000 GBP

A large leaf, 600mm. by  400mm.,  with  a  large  initial  ‘h’  (opening  “Hodie  nat[us  est  …]”,  the  responsory  for  the  feast  of  her  birth,  8  September),  200mm.  by  125mm.,  with  St.  Anne  watching  the  baby  Virgin  in her  crib,  attended  by  the  midwives,  on  a  blue  background  with  curling  white  penwork,  the  initial  formed  of  fleshy  and  coloured  acanthus-leaf  foliage  on  thick  burnished  gold  grounds,  a  profusion  of  similar  acanthus  leaves  forming  a  decorated  border  on  three  sides,  enclosing  a  single  roundel  with  the  St.  Anne  and  the  Virgin  with  an  attendant  in  the  bas-de-page,  5  lines  of  text  in  brown  ink  in  a  fine  late  gothic  hand  with  music  on  a  4-line  red  stave,  tiny  instructions  to  illuminator  in  brown  ink  in  margin  (“nativitas  sce  mariae”),  nineteenth-century  pencil  “19”  on  recto,  some  slight  creasing  to  base  (with  minor  crackling  to  edge  of  border),  smudges  to  several  faces  in  main  initial,  roughly  cut  from  volume  with  damage  to  a  bezant  at  top  of  leaf,  else  good  condition. Estimate: 3,000-5,000 GBP

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Christie’s: London, 13 June 2012

AUCTION: Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts, Christie’s (8 King Street, St Jame’s, London), Wednesday, 13 June 2012. Viewing: 8-12 June.

This sale offers enormous choice from a fourth-century manuscript fragment of the Iliad to Charles Dickens’s own inscribed copy of David Copperfield. Besides illuminations of breath-taking beauty in the antiphonal of Elizabeth von Gemmingen, there is an original manuscript score in the hand of J.S. Bach. Among early printed books, Copernicus, Machiavelli and Vesalius are just a few of the many Renaissance authors represented.  An impressive selection of atlases and plate books, important works by Charles Darwin and Carl Marx, novels ranging from John Cleland’s Fanny Hill to Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death, and even a selection of children’s books stunningly bound in multi-coloured morocco, all feature in over 200 lots.

The following entries are of particular interest:

NATIVITY, in a letter H cut from an Antiphonal, ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM
[?Tuscany, c.1460], 222 x 251mm visible in frame. The initial for the antiphon for vespers on Christmas Day Hodie Christus natus est, on a ground of burnished gold (small smudge in sky, a few small losses from gold ground, trimmed into framing of gold at left edge, other edges under frame). Framed and glazed. Estimate: £ 12,000 – £15,000 ($18,456 – $23,070).

It must have been an enormous and splendid choirbook to contain initials as large and as extensively gilt as this. Several features suggest a Tuscan origin. The Nativity group shows the influence of Florentine models originated by Filippo Lippi but a Florentine painter is unlikely to have so flouted perspective in the enchanting and incident-filled landscape. The ruling seems to have encouraged the illuminator to divide the field horizontally: both front and side of the stable roof are on one horizontal and the gable, on a parallel, is reinforced by bristling trees, which continue the line to the left edge. The greater finesse of the foreground figures is matched by the elaborate patterning of the letter staves. The inclusion on the left of a grotesque head might indicate a Sienese connection — especially common in the initial staves of Pellegrino da Mariano — although Sienese illuminators favoured a strong yellow for the inner framing that is characteristic of Tuscan initials. The light tonalities and decorative forms show some connection with Choirbooks made for the convent of San Francesco in Lucca (Lucca, Bibl. stat. Mss 2673 and 2676, see M. Paoli, I corali della Biblioteca statale di Lucca, 1957).

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