(Eastern France, perhaps Neubourg Abbey in Alsace, ca. 1450). 311 x 229 mm. (12 1/4 x 9"). Double column, 21 lines in a lovely gothic liturgical hand.

In a handsome gilt wooden frame. Rubrics in red, five two-line initials in burnished gold on pink, blue, and white grounds with two- to three-line marginal extensions of hairline stems terminating in burnished gold leaves, recto with one three-line "S" in pink, white, and gold and infilled with scrolling floral vines, a blue and burnished gold bar border extending from the initial the length of the central margin, a small furry gold creature with large ears and curling tail sitting atop the bar within a wreath of red and blue acanthus leaves, this the centerpiece of an upper rinceau border of swirling hairline stems abloom with flowers of various colors and bearing many burnished gold ivy leaves, a lower border of similar design, with a brushed gold urn of flowers at center, a small gold lion reclining amid the vegetation, the same side of the leaf WITH A COLUMN-WIDE MINIATURE (58 mm. square) just above the large initial DEPICTING THE VIRGIN AND CHILD seated within a walled garden, A CISTERCIAN MONK KNEELING BEFORE THEM, a banderole emanating from his lips with the words "Mater Dei memen[to mei]" ("Mother of God, remember me"). A little paint flaking from the Virgin's robe, otherwise IN ESPECIALLY FINE CONDITION, very clean and bright, with lustrous gold.

This lovely leaf comes from a very fine illuminated Missal perhaps made at Neubourg Abbey in Alsace. Even though the Cistercians typically eschew lavish decoration in their manuscripts, the connection with the order is confirmed in the present case by the punctus flexus punctuation and by the presence of the Cistercian monk in his distinctive white habit with black scapular (a figure also appearing in other miniatures known to have been part of the manuscript represented here). This was one of four leaves from the same manuscript auctioned at Sotheby's as lot #8 on 5 December 1995. A leaf from the Mass of Corpus Christi had a miniature depicting four Cistercian monks in the Procession of the Holy Sacrament, and the leaf containing the Introit for the Nativity of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux shows that founder of the Cistercian order preaching to a group of his monks. It is notable that the Mass is not for Saint Bernard's regular feast day of August 20, but for his nativity--something that would be more likely to be celebrated by the order he founded. The provenance of Neubourg Abbey is suggested by the presence of the abbey's arms--sable, with double tower argent--in the border of a page from the feast of Epiphany. The Rhineland style of illumination seen here accords with the Abbey's location in Alsace. Founded in the early 1130s by Count Reinhold of Lützelburg, Neubourg Abbey had a library of more than 500 manuscripts at the time of its suppression following the French Revolution; none of these has ever been traced. The decoration here is pleasingly symmetrical, and the rinceaux borders are light and airy, with the whimsical inhabitants adding charm. The miniature has wonderful small details, most particularly the beatific expression on the face of the monk as he kneels in awe before the Madonna and Child, and the very realistic folds of his habit. The sky above the gray stone wall encircling the garden is filled with swirling gilt tracery that seems to emanate from the serene Virgin. In keeping with the delicate nature of the illumination, the scribal hand here is elegant and slender.

Keywords: Missal

Add to Cart Price: $7,500.00

PJP Catalog: 70.404