An outstanding example of Umbrian illumination
25 Missale Fratrum MinorumManuscript on vellum, written by Henricus Haring for the convent of S. Francesco di Montone near Perugia, illuminated by Bartolomeo and Giapeco Caporali. Italy, Perugia, 1469.
350 x 250 mm. 400 leaves, complete: I2, II6, III-XVIII10, XIX12, XX10+1, XXI12, XXII-XXV10, XXVI8, XXVII8-1, XXVIII-XXXIII10, XXXIV8, XXXV-XL10, XLI14. Catchwords. Modern pencil foliation incorrect. – Written space: 208 x 155 mm, 2 columns of 26 lines to the page. Southern Textualis Formata (Rotunda) in black ink with rubrics, capitals stroked in red.Two-line initials alternately in blue and red with fleuronnée extending into the margins, penwork decoration of some letters in the final lines of the pages. – 31 historiated initials with floral extensions. Opening page with decorated full borders, one full-page initial, one fullpage miniature. Rich use of burnished gold. – Fine condition, small portions of flaking colour in the Crucifixion delicately restored. – 19th-century black morocco binding, front cover with gilt frame and arms, gilt edges. Endpapers including 2 vellum and 2 modern paper flyleaves. Short description in English on flyleaf, ex-libris and remnants of a bookplate on inner front cover. In a modern black half leather box.
PROVENANCE: 1. Convent of S. Francesco di Montone near Perugia. The colophon (fol. 400) gives the date of completion, 4 October 1469, as well as the names of the “guardianus conventus (...) presbiter Frater Stephanus Cambi” and of the “procurators” Franciscus Ser Johannis de Ciurellis and Petrus Paulus de Miraculis who commissioned the missal. 2. Probably in the collection of John Webster Esq. of the Upper Mall, Hammersmith, and of Queen Street, Cheapside, London (d. 1826), the most likely owner of the armorial stamp and the motto “Carpe Diem” on the cover (cf. Hobson/Woodcock 2005). 3.Thomas Edwards (1762-1834), bookseller of Halifax,West Yorkshire, (cf. catalogue of his sale at Stewart, Wheatley and Adlard, 15-24 May 1828). 4. Collection of Philip Augustus Hanrott (1776-1856). 5. Sale Quaritch, London, Dec. 1893, lot 95. 6. Collection of Leo S. Olschki, Florence. 7. Collection of Conte Paolo Gerli di Villagaeta, Milan (see ex-libris). 8. Private collection Switzerland.
TEXT: The colophon of this Franciscan missal names the scribe Henricus Haring, who as his surname “Almanus” suggests was probably of German origin.
ILLUMINATION: fol. 9: Luxurious frontispiece: full borders with rich foliage animated with putti and naturalistically drawn animals. In the bas-de-page putti present a roundel with St Francis displaying his stigmata. – fol. 185v: Crucifixion with the Virgin, St John, St Francis kneeling and two angels. Miniature set in a sumptuously decorated frame with generous use of burnished gold.The busts of three male figures, probably the patrons of the codex, appear in roundels. – fol. 186: Full-page initial ‘T’(e igitur): foliage with birds and putti. Historiated initials on fol. 9, 22, 22v, 25, 30v, 116v, 124v, 131, 141v, 183, 183v, 184, 184v, 193v, 208v, 214, 222, 259, 260, 263, 270, 275v, 287, 290v, 306, 311v, 318v, 322v, 324v, 327, 387v. Mario Salmi first identified the principal artist of this luxurious codex as Bartolomeo Caporali (active c. 1442-1502; Salmi 1933).Throughout his life Bartolomeo worked almost exclusively in his native city where he held various prestigious offices. His style was strongly influenced by Fra Angelico, by the younger generation of artists like Andrea del Verrocchio, but above all by Benozzo Gozzoli.A personal encounter with Benozzo during one of his stays in Perugia is very likely.The stylistic debt owed by Bartolomeo to the Florentine artist, especially during his early and middle career has even caused some confusion in the attribution of a couple of unsigned works. Later the influence of the Florentine school was modified through contacts with Umbrian artists, such as Perugino and Pinturicchio. Most of Bartolomeo’s surviving works are panel paintings (Scarpellini 1997), while his activity as an illuminator is less clearly defined. His comparatively small œuvre in this field comprises the decoration of a psalter formerly in the Franciscan convent of Monteripido (Perugia, Biblioteca Capitolare, ms. 44) as well as three miniatures depicting the gates of Perugia, resp. in the Albertina,Vienna (Salmi 1957, fig. 70) and in a private collection (Sotheby’s, 8 December 1981, lot 29). Bartolomeo’s role in the illumination of a missal for S. Lorenzo in Perugia (Biblioteca Capitolare, ms. 10) is less certain. In our manuscript Bartolomeo’s hand can be distinguished in the Crucifixion. The delicately modelled body of Christ as well as the psychologically convincing rendering of the bystanders make this miniature a masterpiece of rare quality. Two depictions of the Crucifixion painted by Bartolomeo during the 1450s or early 1460s, a wooden crucifix in S. Michele in Isola Maggiore del Trasimento and a predella panel (Perugia, Pinacoteca, cf. Perrott 1934, fig. 2) can be cited as direct antecedents of the present version, which despite its comparatively small dimensions is of striking grandeur. The two angels and the landscape as well as the border surrounding the Crucifixion have been attributed to another artist, probably Bartolomeo’s brother Giapeco (d. 1478) who was member of the guild of miniaturists in Perugia. Moreover, the full-page initial on the facing page, the frontispiece and the 31 historiated initials can be assigned to him.Although lacking the extraordinary talent of his brother Giapeco reveals himself as an experienced illuminator with a predilection for painting on a small scale and for sophisticated decoration. Thus the missal at hand is an interesting example of a close cooperation between two artists dividing the illumination according to their respective specialities yet striving to create a harmonious whole.
LITERATURE: Sales cat. Stewart, Wheatley and Adlard, 15- 24 May 1828; Salmi 1933 and 1957, pp. 56-57; Perrot 1934; Aeschlimann 1940, p. 37, pl. xxii; Mostra storica 1953-54, p. 421; Hobson/Woodcock 2005; Ciardi Dupré Dal Poggetto/Gualdi 2006, pp. 21-27, figs. 22, 25-28. Caleca 1969; Scarpellini 1997; Lunghi 2004.