(340x250mm) Original 15th century manuscript Missal leaf. Executed by hand in manuscript calligraphy on animal parchment. Two columns (29 lines each) of Latin text, written in rotunda script in black and red; large initials alternately in blue and red with the largest initials having extensive fine pen-scroll tracery in blue and red extending to the margins.
Italy (probably Siena) c. 1460.
Attributed to the great Sienese artist & panel painter Sano di Pietro (1405-81) & his workshop – a style readily recognizable, not only by the finely modeled faces, but also by the marvelous illuminations inhabiting his borders!
The five-line historiated “D” depicts The Adoration of the Magi – showing the Magi, Mary & Christ Child. The illuminated border along the bottom is composed of acanthus leaves, flowers, & gold discs – plus the three horses of the Magi in blue, orange, green, pink, red & burnished gold!
The Illuminated “I” begins Matthew 2:9-23: “In illo…Defuncto…” (But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt,..).
Provenance: From a Missal made for a bishop, with his arms (elsewhere in missal), per pale azure & or, an eagle displayed with two heads dimidiated of the same, augmented in fess with an escutcheon gules & a cross gemelle or. The manuscript was sold by the Andulusia Foundation at Christie’s NY, 16 May 1986, lot 213, subsequently dispersed. The finely modeled faces in rich color & gold are redolent of Sano di Pietro’s work & the closest parallels are to a Gradual illuminated by him for the Piccolomini family (Siena, Piccolomini Library cod.17.11).