Lot 2
  • 2

The Entombment of Christ and the prophet Jeremiah, two historiated initials on a leaf from a Missal, in Latin [Italy, Umbria (perhaps Perugia), c.1280]

7,000 - 9,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • ink and pigment on vellum
single leaf, c.360x244mm, vellum, with a historiated initial ‘N’ (opening the introit ‘Nos autem gloriari oportet in cruce ...’) followed by another historiated initial ‘I’, 2 columns, 25 lines (c.220x63-16-62mm), three illuminated initials on the reverse, slight fading of text, very light marginal spotting, a few small holes

Catalogue Note

Provenance: (1) BERNARD H. BRESLAUER (d.2004), acquired in 1975; his sale at Christie’s, 11 December 2002, lot 5. (2) Priv. coll., UK.

A sister leaf in the same Christie's sale was lot 4.

Illumination: This must have been a luxurious manuscript as it is unusual for the opening of each Mass to start with a historiated initial. The subjects selected for illustration are taken from the Gospel reading for that day: in this case Joseph of Arimathea using his own tomb to receive the body of Christ, one event from the reading of Christ’s Passion (Mark 14:32–72 and 15:1–46). The Epistle reading from the Book of Jeremiah starts with a half-length figure of a bearded prophet. 

Despite the high quality of the illumination it is difficult to localise the centre of production. The flourished initials can be paralleled in Perugian manuscripts of the late 13th century.

Exhibited: William M. Voelkle and Roger S. Wieck, The Bernard H. Breslauer Collection of Manuscript Illuminations, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1992, no.59.