[ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT 14TH CENTURY.]
EARLY RENAISSANCE GRADUAL FROM TUSCANY WITH LARGE HISTORIATED INITIALS.
Gradual. Latin manuscript on vellum with music on four-line red staves with neumes in black. [Tuscany (likely Pisa with Florentine and Sienese influences), circa 1350]. 130 leaves, lacking a bifolium at the center of quire 6, else internally complete though doubtless imperfect with only a portion of the Sanctoral at end. Collation: i-v10, vi10-2, vii-x10, xi8, xii6, xiii8. 490 x 290 mm (17.5 x 11.5 inches). 10 lines of music per page, numerous 3- to 5-line cribble initials in alternating red and blue with marginal tracery on every leaf, approximately NINETY-TWO LARGE VERSAL INITIALS, 8- to 12-stave lines in height with circulating blue and red floriated infilling and extended flourishes into margins, FIVE LARGE ILLUMINATED INITIALS, approximately 180 x 110 mm, with long illuminated branches extending almost fully around margins, in blue, green, magenta, pale pink, and characteristic salmon orange, with delicate white tracery and gilt infilling and gold discs along stems, with both floral and faunal themes (fol. 53r with an incomplete clawfooted, winged-like creature), and SIX HISTORIATED INITIALS in full colors with paneled borders and extensive illuminated branches, some populated with the faces of saints and floral sprays. 17th century full vellum over printed paper sheets with remnants of brass bosses. Folios 1 and 15 with portion of lower margin below text repaired, ff. 5 and 6 with upper fore edge margin dampstained and replaced with early 15th century vellum portion of a vernacular document arranging for the transfer of two oxen, f. 1r generally soiled, some dampstaining to lower margin of center leaves, vellum generally mottled and trimmed at upper margin with partial loss to illuminated branch on f. 92, some paint loss and chipping to gilt decoration, miniature of the Pentecost likely with some gilt overpaint by a later hand, pencil description of verses in English to margins throughout, boards well worn, spine chipped and lacking several brass bosses, yet overall an extraordinary and enormous relic of 14th century Tuscan illumination at the height of the early Renaissance.
1. Likely composed in Pisa for a congregation in Florence or central Tuscany, circa 1350. The list of saints in the extant Sanctorale is an intriguing clue to its possible localization, in particular, the unusual presence of SS. Remigius and Benedict. The Church of San Remigio in Florence was rebuilt around 1350 in honor of Saint Remigius, and had several important Florentine patrons, including the Pepi, Alberti, Bagnesi, and Alighieri Families. At least one other Pisan gradual was composed for the church and is presently part of the archives there (cf. Poggetto, 1979 516ff.) In addition, the celebrated Pieta of San Remigio, an altarpiece which Vasari identifies as the work of Giottino and now in the Uffizi gallery, prominently features the saints Remigio and Benedict with two kneeling women in modern clothes, probably the donors of the picture. It is conceivable then that this gradual was one of several commissioned for the church at the time of its reconstruction.
2. Late 19th century note glued to upper portion of front board in English, generally describing the contents, in part: Choir book of the 14th century
Purchased in Florence, 1879.
This Gradual comprises: the winter and spring Temporal from Advent I to Trinity Sunday, (ff. 1r-117v) with abbreviated reference to the Litany (f. 78) but not the entire text; the Assumption (ff. 118r-124v); and the Sanctoral truncated (ff. 125r-130v) from St. Andrew (Nov. 30) to the Purification of the Virgin (Feb. 2nd). Unusual saints noted in the Sanctoral extant include Lazarus, Remigius, Felix, Benedict and Prisca, and with John Chysostom and Ignatius celebrated in late January rather than September and October.
Other unusual features include the large fore edge and lower margins which preserve the catchwords as well as roman numeral foliation in red on verso of each leaf, as well as the numerous scribal marks for the rubricator which have been preserved, including some marginal notes that were never scratched out.