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Manuscript

  • Place of origin:

    monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli (made)

  • Date:

    1382 -1399 (illuminated)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • 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 Silvesto 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.

Place of Origin

monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli (made)

Date

1382 -1399 (illuminated)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

Water-based pigment, gold leaf and ink on parchment

Marks and inscriptions

[Alle]luia, mo[dicum et non vi]debitis me [and musical notation]
on reverse; from Communion hymn for 3rd Sunday after Easter

C[antate]
on verso, Introit for the 4th Sunday after Easter

Dimensions

Height: 21 cm maximum, Width: 24.5 cm maximum

Object history note

Made for San Michele a Murano in Venice. Bought by the V&A Museum before 1863.

Historical context note

Data taken from notes compiled by Rowan Watson. The full text of the entry is as follows:

'Cat. no. 307.12
431 (MS 968)
GRADUAL (III & IV Sunday after Easter)
Cut-out historiated initial C (prophet, attributed by Levi d'Ancona and Kanter to Silverstro dei Gherarducci)

Text: [Alle)luia, mo[dicum et non vi]debitis me, from Communion hymn for 3rd Sunday after Easter; on verso: C[antate], Introit, 4th Sunday after Easter

Italy (Florence). 1392-1399

Levi d'Ancona, 1993, II 29, 49, 55; Kanter, 1994 p. 161 (Gradual 2, no. 8)'

Descriptive line

Historiated initial C from a Gradual, prophet with scroll, attributed to Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci, Florence (S. Maria degli Angeli), 1382-1399.

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

Levi d'Ancona, Mirella. The reconstructed "Diurno Domenicale" from Santa Maria degli Angeli. Florence: Centro Di, 1993. 63 p., ill. (The choir books of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence; vol. 2). ISBN 8870382451.
Kanter, Laurence B, et al. Painting and illumination in Early Renaissance Florence 1300-1450. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, 394 p., ill. ISBN 0870997262.
Watson, Rowan. Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. London: V&A Publications, 3002. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177385.

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 for San Michele a Murano in Venice???

The attribution to Don Silvestro Gherarducci is by Gaudenz Freuler according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art catalogue, 1994 (information supplied by Anna Melograni)

Materials

Parchment; Pigment; Gold leaf

Techniques

Illuminated; Writing

Subjects depicted

Scroll; Acanthus; Prophets

Categories

Christianity; Manuscripts; Religion; Images Online; Religion

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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