6009. Unrecorded leaf from an early antiphoner

The Master of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, "St. Agnes appearing to her parents", in a large historiated initial, on a leaf from an illuminated manuscript antiphoner, in Latin on vellum. Italy (Tuscany), second quarter of the fourteenth century (c. 1325-1350).

Single column, 6 lines of text with music on a 4-line red stave, initial showing the saint standing and holding her attribute the lamb, before another saint who holds a palm of martyrdom, as her parents lie prostrate with grief on her tomb in the foreground, and stand in the background, pointing at her as she appears to them on the eighth day after her death, all on brightly burnished gold grounds and within a blue-grey frame, border on 3 sides of coloured acanthus leaves with knots and bright gold bezants. Reverse (originally recto) with 6 lines of text and music with further readings from saint's offices, red rubrics and 2 initials in red or blue with contrasting penwork. Leaf: 559x401 mm, initial: 130x135 mm, and rastrum: 35 mm.
Some small scuffs to gold of initial without affect to figures, slightly trimmed at top and bottom (with slight effect to edges of uppermost border decoration), small marks of discoloured lines at 2 outer edges and a line of stitch holes along top (just as the sister leaf in Yale, and probably from earlier framing together), overall in good and clean condition.

This is a long-lost and hitherto unrecorded leaf from a spectacular and early antiphoner produced in the second quarter of the fourteenth century by an artist who also worked with the celebrated Pacino di Bonaguida (c.1280-early 1340s) and the Master of the Dominican Effigies (fl. c.1325-55), on a series of contemporary choirbooks for the Basilica of Sancta Maria all'Impruneta, near Florence (R. Offner, Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, 1956, p. 201). A handful of leaves from the present manuscript were identified as from a single splendid parent volume by W.M. Voelkle and R.S. Wieck in 1992, and three years later A. Labriola drew together all the leaves known at that time and named the artist after an antiphoner made for the Church of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas in Pistoia (Pistoia, Archivio Capitolare del Duomo, ms.488/100; see Bernard Breslauer Collection of Manuscript Illuminations, 1992, p. 174, and Labriola in Paragone 547, pp. 3-17).

P. Palladino (Treasures of a Lost Art, 2003, no. 26) records nine cuttings from the parent series of antiphoners: one now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, their 39.677; one once in the Bernard Breslauer collection (see Voelkle and Wieck, p. 174); two in the Free Library, Philadelphia, their M74:2 and M73:3: one listed by Les Enluminures, cat. 5, 1996, no.1; one Yale University Art Gallery, 1954.7.I; one ex collection of Eric Korner, and then Sotheby's, 20 June 1995, lot 25, with estimate of £20,000-30,000; two in the Longari collection, Milan; and a final leaf in the Wallraf-Reichartz Museum, their M207. The leaf here includes offices for the Feast of St. Agnes (21 January): the initial 'D' here opening "Diem festum sacratissime virgini celebremus [qualiter passa sit beata agnes .]", and must come from the sanctoral volume of the series.

Alongside the Sotheby's leaf, the present one was in the collection of André Hachette (1873-1941), one of the great collectors of the early twentieth century and an early portrait photographer, whose photographs are now in the Musée d'Orsay. They were sold in his sale, 16 December 1953, with both leaves as lot 43. In addition, the present leaf was clearly once mounted alongside that now in Yale, which was itself acquired by a former owner (Robert Lehmann, 1891-1969, son of the co-founder of the now collapsed investment banking empire) in Paris in 1953, perhaps privately from the Hachette collection, and reported to have come from the nineteenth-century collection of Enrico Righi of Siena. In fact, most, if not all, of the others probably have a common provenance up to the early 1950s. The present leaf has been in the ownership of a northern Swedish family for many decades, and a member of this family may well have bought it directly in the Hachette sale, or at least acquired it soon after. Certainly, as it is of non-Swedish manufacture and has definitively entered Sweden in the last century, it is sold here free of any export restrictions to any other EU country.

We would like to thank Dr. Timothy Bolton for his cataloguing of the present lot.