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Details & Cataloguing

Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts

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St Augustine of Hippo, historiated initial on a leaf from the Antiphoners of San Domenico, Bologna, in Latin [Italy (Bologna), c.1307-26]
single leaf, 610x415mm, vellum, with a large initial ‘I’ for the antiphon ‘Invenit se Augustinus …’, with St Augustine dressed as an archbishop, and a three-sided border with two roundels in the lower margin, the first with a sainted pope reading a book – perhaps Augustine’s contemporary, St Damasus, who commissioned the Vulgate translation of the Bible by St Jerome, the second with a bishop-saint attended by a Dominican preaching to laymen, 5 lines of text and music on four-line red staves, 440x280mm, rastrum 50mm, the recto inscribed in lower right corner ‘C 208’ and with an export ink-stamp in Italian overlapping an export label stamped in French, the verso inscribed in pencil, top right ‘No.18’ and lower right ‘5403’, and foliated ‘82’, some darkening of the outer edges, small losses of pigment and gold
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Catalogue Note

This is one of a group of leaves which share dimensions, script, and style of illumination, as well as the very unusual feature of detailed instructions to the illuminator. Here (as on other leaves) the inscriptions are slightly cropped and partially overlapped by decoration, stipulating the subject of the initial as ‘beatum Augustinum cum libro’, and the two roundels in the lower margin, apparently: ‘Inferius duas rotas, una … / et papa sedet [... cath]edra / in alia … sedet et [...]’.

About 35 sister leaves are described by G Freuler, Italian Miniatures from the Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century, 2013, I, no.19, to which can be added a leaf depicting St Clement at the University of Santa Barbara, California. They come from a large series of Choirbooks produced between 1307 and 1324/26 for one of the most important churches in one of the most important book-producing cities in Europe: the Dominican church of San Domenico, Bologna: ‘the single most important cycle of liturgical books executed in that city during the first quarter of the fourteenth century’ (Paladino, Treasures of a Lost Art, 2003, p.24). It is known from old inventories that there were originally at least 14 volumes, from which three volumes and numerous cuttings are missing (Alce and d’Amato, La Biblioteca di S. Domenico in Bologna, 1961). The two main artists of the set of volumes are known as the First and Second Master of San Domenico, and also as the Seneca Master and the B.18 Master (cf. following lot) respectively; the present leaf is by the SENECA MASTER.

Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts

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London