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Details & Cataloguing

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Londres

Christ in Majesty, large initial and border from an illuminated Antiphoner, on vellum, mounted on wood [Italy (Siena), early fourteenth century]
a cutting, 255mm. by 190mm., with a vast initial ‘A’ (probably opening “Aspiciens a longe ecce video …”, the first responsory from Matins for the first Sunday of Advent), formed of acanthus leaves in blue, orange, light pink and burnished gold on a blue and light pink ground, enclosing Christ in Majesty, with his right hand raised in blessing, the other holding a book, above four prophets, two of whom hold scrolls, completed at top and bottom with two strips of vellum, uppermost section of vellum (22mm. high, completing acanthus leaves) and arms of Siena in lowermost section (33mm. high) added in the late nineteenth century, crackling in places, some small chipping from gold, slight scuffs at top and occasional wormholes, some restoration in places, overall in good condition, carved gold frame
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Procedencia

Charles Bonaventure François Theuret (1822-1901), the first bishop of Monaco and a major investor in the city and its casinos; bought by him in 1891 from the artist Speya, who had acquired it in Siena: contemporary note pasted to back.

Nota del catálogo

illumination

This vast initial ‘A’ is on the scale of a small panel painting. In the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century, the style of Sienese painting was dominated by the celebrated Duccio di Buoninsegna (fl.1278-1318). Although his early work is profoundly indebted to Byzantine models, after the turn of the century his paintings show an increasing interest in space and an exploration of human emotion, which deeply influenced Pre-Renaissance painting in the city. The artist of this illumination sits within this transitional milieu, and was influenced by this approach to the human form and to narrative. It fills the gap in Sienese manuscript illumination between a leaf attributed to Duccio (Palladino, Treasures of Lost Art, 2003, pp.48-50; see also the leaf in our rooms, 29 June 2007, lot 16, with sister leaves in the Beinecke and Harvard, MS.Typ.271), but perhaps instead by the Maestro dei Salteri (an artist probably active in Siena and Pisa in the last decades of the thirteenth century), and the works of the Master of Sant’Eugenio, who worked in the second quarter of the fourteenth century.

Most remarkable here is the forceful modelling with light and shade and the fine texture of hair and beards. The keen interest to detail is also expressed in the minute decoration of the initial with white penwork patterns and the eye-catching column which supports the centre of the initial and the figure of Christ.

The striking image of Christ accompanied by four prophets is based on the chant it introduced, which quotes parts of the book of Isaiah thought to foretell the second coming of Christ at the end of time (see Toesca, La Collezione di Ulrico Hoepli, 1930, nos.LXXXI and XXXXIV).

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Londres