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Manuscript cutting - Historiated initial from a Gradual for the Camaldolese monastery of San Michele a Murano
  • Historiated initial from a Gradual for the Camaldolese monastery of San Michele a Murano
    Gherarducci, Don Silvestro dei, born 1339 - died 1399
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Historiated initial from a Gradual for the Camaldolese monastery of San Michele a Murano

  • Object:

    Manuscript cutting

  • Place of origin:

    monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli (made)
    Florence (made)
    Italy (made)
    Convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli (made)

  • Date:

    1392 -1399 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Gherarducci, Don Silvestro dei, born 1339 - died 1399 (attributed to)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Water-based pigment, gold leaf and ink on parchment

  • Museum number:

    431

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case I, shelf 81, box L

Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence, a monastery of the Camaldolese order, was the home of a number of scribes, painters and illuminators in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. They worked both for their own house and for other churches and even secular customers. Silvestro dei Gherarducci (1339-99) was active as a painter and illuminator in the abbey from the 1370s, though he also acted as sub-prior and prior. He illuminated works not only for Santa Maria degli Angeli but also for a Camaldolese house in Venice, San Michele a Murano. At this time, Venice was not a centre of illumination. In 1401, Dominican nuns wanting advice on the making of books were told by Giovanni Dominici, a Dominican from Florence, to study the choirbooks of Santa Maria degli Angeli, which contained Silvestro’s work. Silvestro may have worked as part of a team with some ornamentation done by others. Illuminators such as Belbello of Pavia and Cristoforo Cortese were later employed on the choirbooks and it is through their careers in Venice that compositions and styles developed by Silvestro dei Gherarducci became used in that city.

Nineteenth-century enthusiasts altered medieval artefacts to suit their taste. Medieval illuminated manuscripts could be cut up to make them more marketable and pleasing to the collector. Choirbooks from San Michele a Murano in Venice were dismembered for their images. Single leaves survive, but also initials, as here, cut to shape. It is not known when the choirbooks were cut up. The Museum seems to have acquired this piece in the late 1850s.

Physical description

Cut-out historiated initial C, in orange, yellow, blue and burnished gold, taken from a Gradual. The initial has acanthus decoration stemming from it in blue, green, orange, pink and gold. Inside is a prophet holding a scroll, set against a gold background anddressed in a pink and gold tunic and a yellow lined blue cloak. The initial introduces a Communion hymn in the Mass for the third Sunday after Easter.

Text: [Alle)luia, mo[dicum et non vi]debitis me, from Communion hymn for third Sunday after Easter; on verso: C[antate], Introit, 4th Sunday after Easter

Place of Origin

monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli (made)
Florence (made)
Italy (made)
Convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli (made)

Date

1392 -1399 (made)

Artist/maker

Gherarducci, Don Silvestro dei, born 1339 - died 1399 (attributed to)

Materials and Techniques

Water-based pigment, gold leaf and ink on parchment

Dimensions

Height: 21 cm maximum, Width: 24.5 cm maximum

Object history note

Made in Florence at the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli, for San Michele a Murano in Venice. Bought before 1874 when it was transferred from the Art Museum.
A duplicate number MS.968 was assigned to this object in error and was subsequently cancelled.

Seven fragments, whose date and place of acquisition are unknown, arrived at the South Kensington Museum by an early date; four (2868, 3045, 3074 and 3087) appear in a register recording the internal transfer from the Art Museum to the Library on 6 December 1863 of a group of 241 illuminations, and a further three are recorded in a similar transfer in 1874 (431, 432 and 434). The remaining thirteen cuttings (D.217 to 229-1906) were acquired on 22 June 1906 from Bernard Quaritch for a total cost of £60. Two of them depicting prophets were lost during the Second World War (D.220-1906 and D.223-1906).

Cuttings from the same set of graduals in the V&A collection: 431, 432, 434, 2868, 3045, 3074, 3087, D.217-1906, D.218-1906, D.219-1906, D.221-1906, D.222-1906, D.224-1906, D.225-1906, D.226-1906, D.227-1906,D.228-1906, D.229-1906.

This piece is part of a series of over fifty identified cuttings from two different graduals now distributed through various collections. Related cuttings are in: New York, Pierpont Morgan Library; Stockholm, National Museum; Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett; Paris, Musée Marmottan; Padua, Museo Civico; London, The British Library.

Descriptive line

Historiated initial C with a prophet, from a Gradual for the Camaldolese monastery of San Michele a Murano, Italy (Florence), 1392-1399.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

p. 85.
Catalogue of illuminated manuscripts : Part II, Miniatures, leaves, and cuttings, by S.C. Cockerell and E.F. Strange (London: HMSO, 1908, 1st edition).
pp. 77-78 (as Siena, 15th century).
Catalogue of Miniatures, Leaves, and Cuttings from Illuminated Manuscripts. Victoria and Albert Museum. Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design, by S.C. Cockerell and C. Harcourt Smith (London: HMSO, 1923, 2nd edition).
George R. Bent, 'The Scriptorium at S. Maria degli Angeli and Fourteenth Century Manuscript Illumination: Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci, Don Lorenzo Monaco, and Giovanni del Biondo', in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 55. Bd., H. 4 (1992), pp. 507-523.
pp. 29, 49, 55.
Mirella Levi d'Ancona, The reconstructed "Diurno Domenicale" from Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence: Centro Di, 1993.
pp. 155-176.
Kanter, L., B.D. Boehm et al. Painting and illumination in early Renaissance Florence, 1300-1450. New York, 1994.
no. 6.
Watson, Rowan. Vandals and Enthusiasts: Views of Illumination in the Nineteenth Century, London : Victoria and Albert Museum, 1995
pp. 453-521 (esp. pp. 475-486).
Gaudenz Freuler, Tendencies of Gothic in Florence: Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci (Florence: Giunti, 1997).
p. 92.
Watson, R. Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. An account based on the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. London, 2003.

Labels and date

Cut-out historiated initial C (Prophet), from a 14th-century choirbook made for San Michele a Murano in Venice.
Illuminated by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci
Florence (monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli) , 1392-1399
Bought by the Museum before 1363

Choirbooks from San Michele a Murano in Venice were systematically dismembered to provide images; single leaves survive, but also initials, as here, cut to shape. It is not known when the choirbooks were cut up. The Museum appears to have acquired this piece in the late 1850s; apart from this, other fragments first appear in the Bromley-Davenport Collection later in the 19th century. [1995]

Production Note

Made at the convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Florence.

Materials

Parchment; Pigment; Gold leaf

Techniques

Illumination; Writing

Subjects depicted

Acanthus; Scroll; Prophets

Categories

Christianity; Manuscripts; Religion; Images Online; Religion; Manuscript cutting; Music

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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