A lavishly decorated hymnal illuminated in Bologna for Dominican use
16 Dominican hymnalManuscript on vellum, illuminated by the Master of 1446. Italy, Bologna, c. 1450.
565 x 396 mm. 123 leaves (lacks 3 leaves, two of them replaced): I-IV10,V10-1 (fol. 48),VI-IX10, X10+2, XI10+1, XII4, XIII2, XIV4. Catchwords up to quire X (fol. 102). 3 different numbering systems: large Arabic numerals in black ink, in centre top margin of the verso of each leaf, counting 2-124 (lacks 49); smaller Arabic numerals in black ink, in top right margin of the recto of each leaf, counting 1-124 (lacks 48, omits 63). On fol. 109 a new system starts, counting the leaves in Roman numerals beginning with II. 2 leaves have been reinserted recently: fols. 34 and 75 (recte 74). Like the hymnal itself, they were part of the Lehman Collection (ms 159 and ms 181). 3 leaves are still missing: fol. 48, 97, 98. Between fol. 96 and fol. 99 is an 18th-century insert (bifolium), replacing the missing leaves. Written space: c. 380 x 260 mm, text written in dark brown ink in a large round Gothic liturgical hand, 15 lines, ruled in plum,music on a four-line red stave.Versal initials alternately in red and blue with penwork in purple or red. Fol. 110-113 versal initials in blue with fine penwork in red. 81 mostly three-line and 7 large decorative initials in pink with blue filling and white tracery on burnished gold ground; one large historiated initial unfinished (fol. 119v), 19 large historiated initials accompanied by lush borders. In good condition throughout, illumination occasionally rubbed especially in the outer margins (fol. 7v, 62). Monumental 17th- or 18th-century (?) half leather binding, covers with metal fittings, paper end leaves, head and tail of spine slightly defective.
PROVENANCE: 1.A specifically Dominican provenance is suggested by the emphasis accorded to Dominican feasts.The coat-of-arms inserted in the lower border on fol. 75 is reminiscent of that of the Gondi family documented in Florence since the late 12th century. It most probably refers to the patron of the hymnal or the institution for which it was commissioned. 2. Robert Lehman Collection, New York.
TEXT: (folio numbers according to the foliation in the upper right corner of the recto leaves): fol. 1-42: Proprium de Tempore fol. 42v-88v: Proprium de Sanctis fol. 88v-110v: Commune Sanctorum fol. 111-124v: later added texts. The original volume ends on folio 110.At a slightly later date new texts were added on fol. 111-114v.The subsequent pages from fol. 115-123 are later additions.
ILLUMINATION: fol. 1: Initial C: Prophet fol. 4: Initial V: Nativity fol. 7v: Initial H:Adoration of the Magi fol. 24v: Initial A: Resurrection fol. 29: Initial E: Ascension fol. 31: Initial B: Ascension fol. 34: Initial V: Pentecost fol. 37: Initial P: Altar table fol. 45v: Initial S: St Thomas Aquinas fol. 52v: Initial E: St Thomas Aquinas fol. 55: Initial M: St Peter Martyr fol. 62: Initial U: St John the Baptist fol. 65v: Initial A: St Peter and Paul fol. 71v: Initial L: St Mary Magdalen fol. 75v: Initial G: Glorification of St Dominic fol. 78: Initial M: St Augustine fol. 80v: Initial T: St Michael fol. 83v: Initial I: Christ blessing with the apostles fol. 85v: Initial K: St Katherine of Alexandria fol. 110v: Initial H: St Katherine of Siena (underdrawing). All but one of the miniatures in this exuberantly decorated hymnal may be attributed to the so-called Master of 1446, an anonymous Bolognese illuminator named after a 1446 book of statutes for the Hospital of Santa Maria del Baraccano in Bologna (Archivio di Stato, cod. min. Baraccano n.1bis). A second artist was responsible for the initial and borders on fol. 31.These reflect the style of the so-called Master of the Servi Missal, a Bolognese illuminator active in the third decade of the 15th century. The Master of 1446 was described in 1987 by Massimo Medica as a representative of a Late Gothic tendency in Bolognese manuscript illumination during the second quarter of the 15th century whose work was still rooted in the style of Niccolς di Giacomo and his followers, but also receptive to the example of contemporary painters such as Giovanni da Modena and Michele di Matteo.The large, broadly rendered and brilliantly coloured illuminations that distinguish the decoration of the present hymnal are quintessential examples of his production.Typical of the artist are the massive, broadly rendered figural types and incisive, calligraphic approach, defined by the use of heavy dark outlines to articulate form as well as to describe facial features. These elements and the foliate borders interspersed with geometric forms are identical to those in a leaf from the statutes of the Bolognese Guild of Leather Workers in the Cini Collection, Venice (2119) (Medica 1992, p. 24; exh. cat. Rocca Boncompagni 1999, pp. 162-163). Given the presence of the coat-of-arms of Pope Eugene IV in the lower border, the Cini page was dated by Giordana Mariani Canova (1978, p. 29) to his pontificate, between 1431 and 1447. A more precise date was proposed by Medica, who, based on the type of decorative border, placed this work within the artist's early production, during the fourth decade of the 15th century. Recent research narrows the Lehman Hymnals date of production down to c. 1450. A leaf with the Resurrection in an initial R (private collection) and a leaf with the Ascension in the Cini Collection in Venice that both come from one and the same gradual illuminated by the Master of 1446 serve as points of reference for this dating (Freuler 2004).Taking the identical layout and dimensions into account it is conceivable that the dismembered gradual from which these sister leaves come belonged to the same series of choirbooks as the Lehman Hymnal. If we follow this hypothesis the gradual would have been produced slightly earlier than the Lehman Hymnal since the growing influence of Belbello da Pavia does not yet manifest itself that evidently.
LITERATURE: De Ricci/Wilson 1935-40/Reprint 1961, vol. 2, p. 1709,A.37; Palladino 2003, pp. 63-67, cat. 35; Freuler 2004, p. 157ff. Canova 1978, p. 29; Medica in exh. cat. Bologna 1987, p. 229; Medica 1992, p. 24; exh. cat. Rocca Boncompagni 1999, pp. 162-163. This description is based on Pia Palladinos entry in the catalogue of the exhibition Treasures of a Lost Art.