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Details & Cataloguing

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Londres

St. George defeating the dragon, a historiated initial from a Choirbook, illuminated manuscript on vellum [northern Italy (Verona), early 1490s]
cutting, 167mm. by 127mm., with a historiated initial ‘M’ by Girolamo dai Libri, formed of pink acanthus with an architectural column base and capital at its centrepoint suggesting the central bar of the initial, against a burnished gold ground, enclosing St. George in armour on a white rearing horse, thrusting the spear through the dragon’s head as a woman looks on in a wide landscape, reverse with text and music on two 4-line red staves, pigment losses and discolouration, in fair and presentable condition, mounted
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Provenance

(1) The miniature was published by Hans-Joachim Eberhardt as an early work of the Veronese painter and illuminator Girolamo dai Libri (1474/5-1555), and as probably coming from a series of monumental Choirbooks for the monastery of San Giorgo in his home city (in Miniatura Veronese del Rinascimento, 1986, cat.no.69, ill.). These Choirbooks were mentioned by Giorgio Vasari in the sixteenth century but survived only as a series of 40 initials in an album mentioned by Dal Pozzo in 1718 and seen by Luigi di Canossa in 1911 in the collection of the Counts Miniscalchi Erizzo (‘La famiglia dai’ Libri’, Atti e Memorie dell’Academia di Agricoltura, Scienze e Lettere di Verona, LXXXVII, 1912, pp.85-124, esp. p.112).

(2) Antiquariat Walter Eichenberger (advertised in Weltkunst, no.54, 1984, p.2136); sold to a Swiss private collector.

Description

Some of the miniatures in an Antiphonary for SS. Nazarius and Celsus dated 1492 are believed to be an early work of Girolamo dai Libri (London, V&A, MSL/1866/4929, see R. Watson, Western Illuminated Manuscripts, vol.II, 2011, cat.no.120). These and other works dated to the early 1490s, attributed to Girolamo, show a sweet interpretation of the classical world of Mantegna, learnt from his father, Francesco dai Libri (c.1450-1503/06). Only a few years later, Girolamo developed his own style characterised by his soft and more mellow manner.

Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Londres