Massive 12th Century Reptiles

(Germany, perhaps Cologne: early 12th century). 370 x 277 mm. (14 1/2 x 11"). Double column, 31 lines in a fine Romanesque book hand.

Rubrics in red, with five one-line and five two- to four-line initials in red, verso with numerous lines of music with staves in red and interlineal neumes, A LARGE "R" WITH WINGED DRAGONS, one with a long spade-like tail painted in a faint brown wash and light blue with white highlights, the other with white wings and a green body, the dragons interlaced with vines and acanthus leaves, the initial and ground painted in alternating swaths of green, blue, and red, with white vine-stem work. See: "Glaube und Wissen im Mittelalter," 1998, no. 31. Recovered from a binding and thus with some expected soiling and wear, an inch-wide strip along the left (where the leaf would have covered a book's spine) significantly darkened and abraded (including the left quarter of the large "R"), but the initial retaining much of its original charm and the dragons mostly intact, the rest of the leaf very legible and well preserved.

Even in its reuse as binding material, this leaf remains an attractive specimen preserving much of its original appeal, with the impressive Romanesque initial being an excellent example of its type. Measuring a notable 125 mm. high (about a third of the large-format page length), the initial incorporates two fantastic beasts, rather languidly perched on the outer curves of the "R." The upper dragon curls his tail into a swirl, while the lower dragon swoops his tail out and to the right to accentuate the letter form, terminating in a spade-like shape. Happily, the beasts still show a good amount of detail, with the individual feathers of their wings clearly delineated, and the bodies shaded and speckled to resemble the skin of a reptile. The likely origin of this leaf is the Rhineland, perhaps Cologne, where a similarly winged dragon can be seen in a mid-12th century manuscript of Ambroise's "Hexameron," now residing in the collection of Cologne Cathedral (their MS 31; see: "Glaube und Wissen im Mittelalter," pp. 192-3). Similarly, the circular scrolls here are like those in manuscripts from this same area produced between about 1100 and 1150 (ibid. no. 35, pp. 204-07).

Add to Cart Price: $6,500.00

PJP Catalog: 75.004