Lot 11
  • 11

The Tomb of St. Dominic (d. 1221), large historiated initial on a cutting from an illuminated manuscript choirbook, on vellum

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
17,500 GBP
bidding is closed


a cutting, 170mm. by 150mm., with a large initial 'O', 165mm. high, enclosing St. Dominic in the robes of a Dominican friar, lying eyes closed and hands folded on a raised stone sarcophagus within an arched architectural interior (portraying the marble carved sarcophagus by Nicola Pisano, Arnolfo di Cambio and Fra Guglielmo completed in 1267 for the Basilica di San Domenico) with numerous incense burners hanging from the ceiling, a crowd of pilgrims in the foreground, one of whom reaches up to touch the saint's robes, all on burnished gold ground, verso with remains of 2 lines of text with music on 4-line red stave, and '124' in nineteenth-century hand, small amount of paint flaking from saint's body and lower part of miniature and minor scuffing to gold, else excellent condition

This is sophisticated example of the work of the Second Master of the San Domenico Choirbooks, more recently renamed the B 18 Master (from his involvement in Padua, Bibl. Capit. B 18). He took over from the Master of 1328 as the most productive Bolognese illuminator in the second and third decades of the fourteenth century (R. Gibbs and S. L'Engle, Illuminating the Law, 2001, nos. 6 & 7, pp.134-45), and inherited and adapted the small rounded-faced figures with brooding expressions and bold and rich palette of his predecessors. L'Engle has identified him with the 'Marco' who signs folio 185v of Gemeente Museum, MS. 3, on which he was a contributing artist.

The artist executed a number of commissions for Dominican houses in the vicinity of Bologna (most importantly the choirbooks of San Domenico which include pictures of Dominican nuns, and a cutting from a copy of Gratian's Decretum, now Cambridge, Fitzwilliam, MS. 400-2000, which has a Dominican friar seated in its corner), and as his hand is present in at least three choirbooks including the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, he may have been working on commissions for these communities immediately after Aquinas' canonisation in 1323. The present cutting most probably dates to the same period.