8
8
Isaiah, in a historiated initial on a leaf from an illuminated manuscript Antiphoner, on vellum [north-east Italy (doubtless Venice), c.1430]
Estimate
15,00020,000
JUMP TO LOT
8
Isaiah, in a historiated initial on a leaf from an illuminated manuscript Antiphoner, on vellum [north-east Italy (doubtless Venice), c.1430]
Estimate
15,00020,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Western Manuscripts & Miniatures

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Isaiah, in a historiated initial on a leaf from an illuminated manuscript Antiphoner, on vellum [north-east Italy (doubtless Venice), c.1430]
single leaf, 480mm. by 349mm., with a large initial ‘V’ (opening “Vidi dominum sedentem …” Isaiah 6:1,  the antiphon for the Saturday before the first Sunday of November), 90mm. by 84mm., in pink heightened with white, enclosed by coloured acanthus leaves, and containing a fine half-length portrait by Cristoforo Cortese of a balding prophet holding a scroll, on brightly burnished gold grounds, with a profusion of delicately-shaded and feather-like foliage sprays in the border terminating in flowers with gold centres, bezants and a realistic peacock with a tail that trails down the margin for one third of the length of the page, 7 lines of text in a good late gothic bookhand with music on a 4-line red stave (3 lines partly flaked away, the others perhaps overwritten), slight scuffs in places, banderole with loss of paint (but perhaps never with any text), else excellent condition, gilt frame
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Provenance

provenance

From the collection of Robert Lehman (1891-1969; published by Palladino, Treasures of a Lost Art, 2003, no.39), a member of the Lehman banking dynasty.

Catalogue Note

illumination

Cristoforo Cortese (fl.1399-1445) held a paramount position in the bookarts of fifteenth-century Venice. He is first mentioned as ‘miniator’ in the rule book of the Scuola di S Caterina dei Sacchi, Venice (Museo Correr, MS. IV, 118), written c.1400, and is probably the ‘Christophorus de Cortisiis pictor’ responsible for the polyptych of the Virgin and Child with Four Saints in the church of Altidona, Ascoli Piceno.

The quality of the border decoration here and the deep expression of the facial features sets this leaf among Cristoforo Cortese’s mature and bolder oeuvre, with a brighter palette and broader brushstrokes commonly used to depict half-length portraits. Other examples can be found in an initial once in the Breslauer collection: The Bernard H. Breslauer Collection, 1992, no.76; a leaf with a portrait of a man from a compendium of moralised works, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum: Italian Illuminated MSS. in the Getty Museum, 2005, p.32; and a series of fragments in the Bodleian (MS. Douce a.1).

Other similar miniatures by Cortese on cuttings from a gradual appeared in our rooms on 22 June 2004, lot 23, and 5 December 2006, lots 68-69 (the first showing an apostle holding an identical blank banderole), and all these may be from a single dispersed set of choirbooks.

Western Manuscripts & Miniatures

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London