Auction 93, Lot 435

"[Psalterium Leaf]", Anon.

Subject: Medieval Manuscript

Period: 1430 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

14.6 x 21 inches
37.1 x 53.3 cm

A large and magnificent vellum leaf from a Franciscan Psalterium, written and decorated in Venice, probably in the workshop of Christoforo Cortese, who was a miniature painter from 1409-1439. His most important work was the illumination of Dante's Divina Comedia. The recto begins with a large (6.5 x 6") elegantly historiated "B" surrounded with painted leaves in pink, purple, blue, green and white on a burnished gold background. The historation depicts a white bearded King David playing a lute. He is sitting in a walled garden and looking up to God the Father in a mandorla. The text is beautifully written on 18 lines in Gothic rotunda with the initials painted in red and blue. It is from the first Psalm: Beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum… (Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly...). Surrounding the text is an extraordinary wide panel of leaves and blossoms and burnished gold borders. Amidst the flowers are 4 portraits of saints belonging to the Franciscan order: Franciscus with a book and cross, Bonaventura as a cardinal, Anthony of Padua with book and lily, and Bernard of Siena with a book and a disc with the name of Jesus. Verso contains 18 lines of text with a 3-line initial in red, with lavender decoration. The two largest miniatures are on sections of vellum which have been inlaid into the sheet and appear to have been painted by a different artist than the three smaller miniatures. However, the text on the verso is continuous across these areas indicating that they are not later restorations. The vellum surface was a great matter of concern to illuminators and it was common practice to patch parchment in order to provide a perfect surface on which to paint. Ref: Alexander, p. 35. There is some minor rubbing and flaking of paint and gold leaf on the illuminated side, still overall very good for such a large, fully illuminated leaf.


Condition: A

Estimate: $9,500 - $10,000


Closed on 12/6/2000