Missal, known as the St Denis Missal thumbnail 1
Missal, known as the St Denis Missal thumbnail 2
+42
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 9, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Gallery

Missal, known as the St Denis Missal

Illuminated Manuscript
ca. 1350 (made), ca. 1473-1480 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This manuscript was made for the abbey of Saint Denis, North of Paris. It is a Missal, that is to say the liturgical book containing all the texts, chants and prayers necessary for the celebration of the Mass. The high quality of its execution reflects the prestige and importance of the commission. Indeed, the abbey church of Saint Denis was one of the most important churches of medieval France. It was the burial site of the French monarchs and the repository of the relics of saint Denis.

The missal has been dated to 1350 based on the evidence provided by entries in the calendar at the beginning of the manuscript. Indeed, the latest death recorded is that of Guy of Châtres, abbot of Saint Denis, on 22 February 1350, and not that of the king of France, Philip VI, six months later, although the deaths of all other French monarchs from the 11th century onwards are mentioned. This implies that the manuscript was finished between 22 February and 22 August 1350.

Every page of the Missal is teeming with lively bas-de-page scenes (in the space just below the text), and birds and animals painted in a pastel palette inhabit its borders. In the historiated initials as well as in the bas-de-page, figures are painted in shades of grey against a gold or colourful patterned background, highlighting the painters’ high level of craftsmanship. This technique, called ‘semi-grisaille’, recalls the work of famous Parisian illuminator Jean Pucelle, active in Paris between 1319 and 1334. The main artist at work in the Missal is commonly identified as the Remède de Fortune Master, a professional illuminator named after a manuscript in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, BnF, MS Fr. 1584).

Several illuminations are dedicated to the life of saint Denis and the consecration of the abbey (ff. 256v, 261r, 295v, 296r). The vivid scene of Denis’s martyrdom, for instance, shows the saint kneeling in prayer against a red background with gold scrolls, as the executioner is about to behead him (fol. 296r).

The manuscript certainly was part of a set, as it evidently was produced at the same time as a breviary now in Oxford whose format, script and page design are the same, though the latter contains pen flourishing (Bodleian Library, MS Canon. Liturg. 192).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Ink, pigments and gold on parchment. Leather binding over boards.
Brief Description
Manuscript, Missal (the 'St Denis Missal'), attributed to the Remède de Fortune Master and assistants, Paris, 1350 and Tournai (?), 1473-1480.
Physical Description
Foliation: parchment (very thin). i (18th-century or 19th-century paper), ii-iv (late medieval parchment, foliated 1-3) + 436 (foliated 4-439) + 9 (late 15th-century parchment, foliated 440-448) + vi, vii (as f.i) ff.



Language: Latin.



Script: textura semi-quadrata (Gothic) bookhand.



Textual content:

f. 1r: Prayers (added to fly-leaves of the medieval binding, in a 15th-century hand).

f. 2r: Prayers against pagans (in a 15th-century hand).

f. 3r: Readings from Isaiah (in a 15th-century hand).

ff.4r-8r: Order for making Holy Water and to celebrate marriages.

ff.8v-9v: Tables for calculating dates such as Easter.

ff.10r-15v: Calendar. Based on the death mentioned, the manuscript is dated from 1350.

ff. 16r-234r: Temporale.

ff. 235r-241v: Canon of the Mass.

ff. 242r-303v: Proper of the Sanctorale.

ff. 304r-369v: Common of the Sanctorale.

ff. 370r-383v: Sequences for the Temporale.

ff. 383v-430v: Sequences for the feasts of the Sanctorale and the Common of the Saints.

ff. 432r-439v: Sequences and prayers for the blessing of candles and water, on the vigils of Easter and Pentecost, with litanies for those occasions.

ff. 440r-448v: Order for catechism added ca. 1473-1480.

Contains musical notation.



Decoration: integrated miniatures (ff. 235v, 236r, 256v, 261r, 289r, 296r, 299v) either in rectangular frames, partly painted in grisaille on gold, chequered or damask grounds, or grisaille miniatures without frames on natural vellum ground. Historiated initials (ff. 16r, 34r, 35v, 42r, 121v, 155r, 172v, 179v, 242r, 259v, 284v) illuminated initials (ff. 165v, 191r, 231v, 252v, 270v, 273r, 295v, 304r, 370r, 383v, 410v, 418r, 421r) and penwork flourishing. Minor initials. Some pages with full-frame borders made up of baguettes with sprays of ivy leaves extending into the margins. Narrative scenes in the bas-de-page (ff. 16r, 34r, 35v, 42r, 121v, 155r, 172v, 179v, 235v, 236r, 256v, 261r). In the margins are birds, grotesques, insects and narratives scenes (ff. 16r, 34r, 35v, 42r, 121v, 155r, 172v, 179v, 235v, 236r, 242r, 256v, 259v, 261r, 284v, 289r, 296r, 299v, 304r, 370r).



Artists: The Remède de Fortune Master has been identified as the main illuminator, responsible for the miniatures. His style is representative of mid-14th-century Parisian ‘naturalism’. The penwork flourishing is the work of Jacobus Mathey (active between ca. 1327-1345) or one of his successors.



Binding: 18th century, France. Red morocco over boards. Gold-tooled floral design in each corner. Spine in 5 compartments. Doublures of marbled paper sewn onto 5 hemp cords, false end-bands of white and green silk, edges of text-block gilded. In the style of Nicolas-Denis Derome le Jeune (1761-1788).

Dimensions
  • Height: 235mm
  • Width: 170mm
  • Text block height: 158-160mm
  • Text block width: 100-107mm
Production typeUnique
Gallery Label
MISSAL FROM THE ABBEY OF SAINT-DENIS 1350 Miniatures by the Remede de Fortune Master This missal contains all the texts and music needed by a priest and choir to celebrate Mass. It was probably made for use at one of the altars at the royal abbey of Saint-Denis. Some of the miniatures tell the story of the abbey's foundation. The manuscipt with its text and ornament was a product of the commercial Paris book industry, but the illuminator may have been commissioned separately. Entries in the calendar allow the missal to be dated to 1350. France, Paris Ink on parchment, with pigment and gold Museum no. MSL/1891/1346 (24/03/2018)
Object history
(1) The folios added in the 15th century bear the arms of the Clugny familly and the motto of Ferry de Clugny (ca. 1430-1483). Evidence suggests these were added when he was bishop of Tournai (1473-1480).

(2) The binding suggests the manuscript was still in France during the 18th century when it was rebound by (or in the style of ) Derome le Jeune.

(3) Collection of William Horatio Crawford (1815-1888), Lakelands Library, co. Cork, Ireland: his sale, Sotheby’s, London, 12-15 March 1891, lot 464.

(3) Bought from Quaritch by the South Kensington Museum in 1891.
Summary
This manuscript was made for the abbey of Saint Denis, North of Paris. It is a Missal, that is to say the liturgical book containing all the texts, chants and prayers necessary for the celebration of the Mass. The high quality of its execution reflects the prestige and importance of the commission. Indeed, the abbey church of Saint Denis was one of the most important churches of medieval France. It was the burial site of the French monarchs and the repository of the relics of saint Denis.



The missal has been dated to 1350 based on the evidence provided by entries in the calendar at the beginning of the manuscript. Indeed, the latest death recorded is that of Guy of Châtres, abbot of Saint Denis, on 22 February 1350, and not that of the king of France, Philip VI, six months later, although the deaths of all other French monarchs from the 11th century onwards are mentioned. This implies that the manuscript was finished between 22 February and 22 August 1350.



Every page of the Missal is teeming with lively bas-de-page scenes (in the space just below the text), and birds and animals painted in a pastel palette inhabit its borders. In the historiated initials as well as in the bas-de-page, figures are painted in shades of grey against a gold or colourful patterned background, highlighting the painters’ high level of craftsmanship. This technique, called ‘semi-grisaille’, recalls the work of famous Parisian illuminator Jean Pucelle, active in Paris between 1319 and 1334. The main artist at work in the Missal is commonly identified as the Remède de Fortune Master, a professional illuminator named after a manuscript in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris, BnF, MS Fr. 1584).



Several illuminations are dedicated to the life of saint Denis and the consecration of the abbey (ff. 256v, 261r, 295v, 296r). The vivid scene of Denis’s martyrdom, for instance, shows the saint kneeling in prayer against a red background with gold scrolls, as the executioner is about to behead him (fol. 296r).



The manuscript certainly was part of a set, as it evidently was produced at the same time as a breviary now in Oxford whose format, script and page design are the same, though the latter contains pen flourishing (Bodleian Library, MS Canon. Liturg. 192).
Bibliographic References
  • South Kensington Museum. Thirty-ninth report [for 1891] of the Department of Science and Art of the Committee of Council on Education. London, 1892, p. xli.
  • Misset, E. and W.H. J. Weale. Analecta liturgica. Thesauris hymnologicis hactenus editis supplementum amplissimum. Part II, Prosae. Bruges, 1892, pp. 530-541.
  • Bradley, J.W. Historical introduction to the collection of illuminated letters and borders in the National Art Library. London: 1901.pl. 3
  • de Laborde, A. Les Manuscrits à peintures de la Cité de Dieu. Paris, 1909, vol. I, pp. 207, 232, no. 5; vol. III, pl. X.
  • Herbert, J.A. Illuminated manuscripts. London, 1911, pp. 246-247.
  • Wilmart, A. 'Les Anniversaires célèbres à Saint-Denis au milieu du XIVe siècle'. Revue Mabillon, 14, 1924, pp. 22-31.
  • Samaran, C. 'Études sandionysiennes'. Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes, 104, 1943, p. 33, no. 4, pp. 23-31.
  • White, J. The birth and rebirth of pictorial space. London, 1957, p. 222, fig. 52b.
  • Huglo, M. 'Les Chants de la missa graeca de Saint Denis'. Essays presented to E. Wellesz. Paris, 1966, p. 79, no. 5.
  • Ker, N.R. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries I. Oxford: 1967.p. 387
  • Ruysschaert, J. 'La Bibliothèque du cardinal de Tournai, Ferry de Clugny, à la Vaticane'. Horae Tornacenses, 1971, p. 140.
  • Avril, F. 'Un chef-d'œuvre de l'enluminure sous le règne de Jean le Bon : la Bible moralisée, manuscrit français 167 de la Bibliothèque nationale'. Monuments et mémoires de la Fondation Eugène Piot, 58, 1972, p. 112, fig. 21.
  • Schmidt, G. 'Zur Datierung der "kleinen" Bargello-Diptychons und der Verkündingstafel in Cleveland'. Études d'art francais offertes à Charles Sterling, ed. A. Chatelet and N. Reynaud. Paris, 1975, pp. 57-58, fig. 42.
  • Avril. F. Manuscript painting at the court of France : the fourteenth century, 1310-1380. New York, 1978.pp. 80-83.
  • Lemaitre, J.L. Répertoire des documents nécrologiques français. 2 vols. Paris, 1980, no. 1344.
  • Whalley, J.I. and V.Kaden (eds.). The universal penman. A survey of western calligraphy from the Roman period to 1980. London: 1980.p. 12, no. 18
  • Whalley, J.I.The pen's excellencie. Calligraphy of western Europe and America. Tunbridge Wells: 1980.pp. 58-59
  • Avril, F. Les Fastes du gothique. Le Siècle de Charles V. Paris, 1981.pp. 321-322, no. 273.
  • Avril, F. 'Les Manuscrits enluminés de Guillaume de Machaut. Essai de chronologie'. Guillaume de Machaut. Poète et compositeur. Paris, 1982, pp. 121-122, pl. III, figs 5, 6.
  • Nebbiai- Dalla Guarda, D. La Bibliothèque de l'abbaye de Saint-Denis en France du IXe au XVIIIe siècle. Paris, 1985, pp. 313, 319.
  • Avril, F., L. Dunlop and B. Yapp. Les Petites Heures de Jean, duc de Berry. Lucerne, 1989, pp. 198-205.
  • Walters Robertson, A. The service books of the royal abbey of Saint-Denis. Images of ritual and music in the Middle Ages. Oxford, 1991.
  • Vanwijnsberghe, D. 'De fin or et d'azur'. Les Commanditaires de livres et de l'enluminure à Tournai à la fin du Moyen Âge, XIV-XVe siècles. Louvain, 2001, p. 42, no. 262; p. 43, no. 270.
  • Robinson, P.R.Catalogue of dated and datable manuscripts c.888-1600 in London libraries. London: 2003.vol. 1, pp. 76-77; vol. II, pl. 53.
  • Watson, R. Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. An account based on the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. London, 2003.pp. 46, 90-91.
  • Choi, Kyung-Hee. Illuminating liturgy and legend: The Missal of Saint -Denis (London, Victoria and Albert Museum Ms. L. 1346–1891) and the Royal Abbey in the fourteenth century. Ph.D. Dissertation. New York University, 2004.
  • Davies, G. and K. Kennedy. Medieval and Renaissance Art: People and Possessions. London, 2009.p. 88
  • Watson, R. Western Illuminated Manuscripts.Victoria and Albert Museum. A catalogue of works in the National Art Library from the eleventh to the early twentieth century, with a complete account of the George Reid Collection. London, 2011.vol 1, pp. 136-149, cat. 22.
Other Numbers
  • KRP.C.79 - NAL Pressmark
  • 38041800149072 - NAL barcode
Collection
Library Number
MSL/1891/1346

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdFebruary 25, 2017
Record URL