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Details & Cataloguing

Music, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental Books

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Ducks and a Bear
A LARGE ILLUMINATED BORDER FROM AN UNIDENTIFIED MANUSCRIPT [ITALY (LOMBARDY, BRESCIA), 15TH CENTURY (3RD QUARTER)]
c.410x70mm, single vellum cutting, rounded at top and bottom, illuminated with three roundels, each c.60mm in diameter, the middle one depicting a pale brown bear in a hilly landscape, the others each with two or three ducks on a river; the gold ivy-leaf somewhat worn, and with minor smudges, but generally in very good condition; framed with conservation glass at the Royal Academy of Arts
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Catalogue Note

The illumination is probably by one of several artists who illuminated liturgical books for Bartolomeo Malipier, bishop of Brescia (1457–64). The lush foliate forms as well as the roundels of the present border are extremely close to a border in a Missal still at Brescia (Biblioteca Queriniana, B II 5; reproduced in colour in Tesori miniati, 1995, pp.159–62 at 160), which has nearly identical scenes of ducks on a river with mountains behind. Brown bears used to be common in the Alps and Apennines, so Lombard artists could certainly have seen them first-hand.

Music, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts and Continental Books

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London