Search collection catalog »
E-NEWS Facebook logo Twitter logo Google logo YouTube
TheMorgan
Current

Upcoming

Online

Past

 

Exhibitions

Pages of Gold: Medieval Illuminations from the Morgan
June 19 through September 13, 2009

« Previous   1   2   3   4   Next »  


+zoom
Celebration of Mass
Leaf from the Decretals of Pope Gregory IX, with glossa ordinaria of Bernardo Bottoni of Parma, in Latin.
Italy, Bologna, ca. 1330
Illuminated by the Master of 1328
440 x 285 mm
Purchased from Maggs Bros. Ltd., 1927; MS M.716.4

This leaf, and three others in the Morgan, are all that remain of a once splendid copy of Gregory's Decretals. The frontispieces for Books IV and V may yet turn up. This leaf was the beginning of Book III, dealing in part with the participation of the lay congregation in the Mass, the subject of the large miniature. Within the initial U (of ut) a monk receives his tonsure, while in the border below is an unusual depiction of people swimming. The Master of 1328 was one of the finest Bolognese artists before Niccolò da Bologna. His name is derived from the register he made in that year for the Haberdashers of Bologna (Bologna, Museo Civico Medievale, MS. 633).


+zoom
Christ in Majesty
Leaf from a Laudario, in Italian
Illuminated by Pacino di Bonaguida for the Compagnia di Sant'Agnese
Italy, Florence, ca. 1340
454 x 335 mm
The Morgan Library & Museum; MS M.742

This leaf is one of twenty-three leaves and cuttings from a Laudario that was broken up by the early nineteenth century. The long-headed, narrow-eyed figures, boneless hands, and greenish-lavender flesh tones are hallmarks of Pacino da Bonaguida, one of the most important painters/illuminators active in Florence during the first half of the fourteenth century. This Laudario was his last major work.

One of Pacino's finest, the leaf begins with a lauda addressed to the Trinity: Alta Trinita beata (Highest blessed Trinity). Its large miniature shows Christ in Majesty flanked by roses and lilies. Below his winged mandorla is part of the earth, surrounded by the ocean and the firmament. The four corner medallions—the three men appearing to Abraham, the three men seated behind the altar with the central one holding a host, the Throne of Mercy, and a single person with three heads—represent the Trinity. The central bottom medallion shows a kneeling man, perhaps the donor or artist.


+zoom
Trinity and Three Angels Appearing to Abraham, in an initial B
Leaf from a Gradual (II), in Latin.
Italy, Florence, 1392–99
Illuminated by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci for Paolo Venier, abbot of San Michele à Murano
590 x 400 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; MS M.653.2

The Roman numeral LXXIIII on the recto indicates the leaf was originally folio 74 in the Gradual. The upper part of the large initial B, which begins the Introit for Trinity Sunday: Benedicta sit sancta Trinitas (Blessed be the Holy Trinity), depicts the three persons of the Trinity, all of whom look alike, behind an altar and two candelabra. The Holy Spirit has a dove over his head and the Father an armillary sphere representing the universe. The Son, in the middle, holds the wafer and chalice of the Eucharist. Above his head is an open book containing the words he spoke after the Last Supper: Ego sum via, et veritas, et vita (I am the way, the truth, and the life). In the lower part of the initial, three angels appear to Abraham, proclaiming the miraculous birth of his son Isaac, an Old Testament event that was regarded as a prefiguration of the Trinity.


+zoom
Two Prophets, in initials S and V
Cut from a Gradual (II), in Latin.
Italy, Florence, Santa Maria degli Angeli, 1392–99
Illuminated by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci for Paolo Venier, abbot of San Michele à Murano
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; MS M.478.16, 17.

The initial S (of Salus) begins the Introit to the Mass for the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, while the V (of Venite) begins the Introit for Easter Wednesday. The fragmentary texts on the backs of the cuttings were sufficient to identify the Introits.


+zoom
Last Supper, in an initial C
Leaf from a Gradual (II), in Latin.
Italy, Florence, Santa Maria degli Angeli, 1392–99
Illuminated by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci for Paolo Venier, abbot of San Michele à Murano
590 x 400 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; MS M.653.4

The leaf was originally folio 78 of the Gradual, for its recto bears the number LXXVIII. The illumination singles out Judas because he is about to put bread in his mouth and has a red purse and a black halo decorated with scorpions. Judas was likened to the scorpion because of his treacherous kiss. John, the young beloved apostle, is fast asleep as his master's hand is raised in blessing. The gesture, linked with that of consecration, connects the Last Supper with the institution of the Eucharist. The initial appropriately illustrates the Introit for the Mass of Corpus Christi (the body of Christ), which was composed by St. Thomas Aquinas: Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti (He fed them with the fat of the wheat). Aquinas had also observed that scorpions signified men plotting in secret. Some of the initials in this set, including the present example, apparently were cut from the choir books more than once. This one was crudely cut in a squarish format, without the border, and subsequently replaced. The leaf itself was then removed.


+zoom
Ascension, in an initial V
Leaf from a Gradual (II), in Latin.
Italy, Florence, 1392–99
Illuminated by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci for Paolo Venier, abbot of San Michele à Murano
590 x 400 mm
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1909; MS M.653.3

The Roman numeral XLIIII on the recto indicates it was originally folio 44 of the Gradual. The Virgin and the twelve apostles are contained by the sides of the letter V, while Christ appears to ascend on a tiny cloud through the upper, thinner part of the letter. The initial begins the Introit for the Mass of the Ascension: Viri Galilaei quid admiramini aspicientes in coelum? (Men of Galilee, why wonder you, looking up to heaven?) Here, and in some other initials in the set, a decorative pattern has been punched on the gold leaf, especially in the haloes, a practice that was common in contemporary panel painting. The gold leaf was always applied before the colors because the burnishing or polishing procedure could damage the paint surface. The colors could then be placed over the rough edges of the gold leaf, creating a clean line.

« Previous   1   2   3   4   Next »  


Top of page


© The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, (212) 685-0008

Home Museum »
Visit the Museum
Exhibitions
Calendar
Public Programs
Education
Collection »
Collection highlights
Online Exhibitions
Music Manuscripts Online
Conservation
The Drawing Institute
Multimedia
CORSAIR Collection Catalog
Research »
CORSAIR Collection Catalog
Research Services
Reading Room
Research Guides
The Drawing Institute
Photography & Rights
About »
Press
History of the Morgan
The Morgan Campus
Employment
Internships
Volunteer
Support »
Membership
Make a Donation
Corporate Membership
Corporate Entertaining
Shop Contact

E-News | Site Index | Terms and Conditions


The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.