29th Nov, 2023 10:00

Books & Works on Paper
  Lot 32

Illuminated leaf on vellum. St. James the Apostle, [mid c.12th.]

St. James the Apostle,

large historiated initial on vellum on a cutting from a monumental Lectionary of Martyrology

a cutting, with a 6-line historiated initial 'A' (opening 'Apostolus Domini nostri Jesu Christi Jacobus...' a vita of the saint) in yellow and red with panels of blue geometric decorations within the ascenders, enclosing in its upper part a single sprig of white-vine edged with yellow shoots, and in its lower part a half-length portrait of St. James with well-defined features, dressed in a red tunic and green cloak, and gazing at the beginning of his own Passion and blessing with his right hand, all on blue grounds edged in red (initial a little trimmed at top with small amount of loss), double column with remains of a single line of decorative capitals in black ink and 15 lines of main text in same in an excellent early Gothic bookhand, light crease across top edge, on fine heavy vellum, excellent and fresh condition, 210mm. by 154mm., [mid c.12th.]

The soft facial features of the saint, here picked out with use of pale greens and reds, and the portrayal of the eyes as almond shapes with small dark dots placed on their outermost edges, is extremely close to that in a late twelfth-century manuscript of the works of St. Ambrose originally from Tuscany or Emilia (see F. Avril & Y. Zaluska, Manuscrits Enluminés d'Origine Italienne I, 1980, no. 97, with illustration in pl. 40). The drapery here, however, seems closer to that in a Tuscan copy of a commentary on Job from the second quarter of the twelfth century (Avril & Zaluska, no. 78). The present initial agrees with both in the addition of small hair-like extensions to the corners of the frame of the initial. The text here discusses his preaching in Judea and Samaria and his defeat of the magician Hermogenes and his pupil Philetus.

Provenance: December 3rd. 2008 Lot 8

Estimated at £4,000 - £6,000


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