TEXT BEGINNING WITH "NOS AUTEM GLORIARI OPORTET."
A VELLUM MANUSCRIPT LEAF FROM A LUXURIOUS MISSAL IN LATIN, WITH AN HISTORIATED INITIAL DEPICTING THE ENTOMBMENT OF CHRIST
Price: 19,000.00 USD
Italy [perhaps Perugia]: ca. 1280. 365 x 245 mm. (14 3/8 x 9 5/8"). Double column, 25 lines in a fine gothic rotunda. Rubrics in red, four one-line initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork, two two-line initials and two four-line initials painted pink and blue with green and orange highlights, beautifully gilt, all but one initial with wing-like extenders at the head and tail; A FIVE-LINE HISTORIATED "I" with a prophet holding a book on a gilt ground, with extenders as elsewhere, AND A FIVE-LINE HISTORIATED "N" DEPICTING THE ENTOMBMENT OF CHRIST, the scene on a gold ground and the initial in pink on a blue ground with white penwork, with extenders. Voelkle and Wieck, "The Bernard H. Breslauer Collection of Manuscript Illuminations," no. 59. Gold with two negligible chips on one of the lesser initials, text a little faded on verso, three tiny round wormholes, other very minor imperfections, but IN REMARKABLY FINE CONDITION, the paint fresh and perfectly preserved, and the gold glistening. Based on the number of fine initials present here, as well as the high quality of the illumination, there is no question that this leaf comes from a particularly sumptuous Missal. Although an exact workshop or artist identification has thus far eluded scholars, the delicate style and high quality of the decoration suggest that both the scribe and the artist were working in Perugia, and were clearly of high caliber. The attention to detail, the artful molding of the figures, and the confident application of paint are thoroughly excellent. According to Voelkle and Wieck, this leaf and its sister mentioned in the Breslauer catalogue are unusual Missal specimens in that the large initial marking the Introit actually illustrates the Gospel reading for that day. In our case, the Introit initial depicts Joseph of Arimathea laying the body of Christ in his own tomb, recounting a scene from the Passion described in Mark 14:32-72 and 15:1-46. According to this passage, it was Joseph who asked Pilate for the body of Christ, bought linen in which to wrap the corpse, and "laid him in a sepulcher which was hewed out of a rock." (Mark 15:46) Although the artist has depicted the scene in finer surroundings than suggested by Mark--with arches and candles, set upon a gold ground--he has stayed true to the Word by depicting an uneven, rocky surface under the smooth, stone tomb. The smaller historiated initial features the prophet Jeremiah in half length and holding a book, marking the beginning of the Epistle reading from the Book of Jeremiah. This leaf comes from the distinguished collection of Bernard Breslauer (1918-2004), the legendary bookdealer whose excellent private collection of Medieval manuscript leaves, early printed books, and fine bindings spoke to his experience and discerning eye. His collection was sold in two sales in 2005 by Christie's for more than $4,000,000.