Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Vassar Leo X Cuttings (Part III): The Parent Volume

Having demonstrated in a previous post that the Vassar (and related) cuttings come from a manuscript closely related to the Preparatio ad missam manuscript of Pope Leo X, now at the Morgan Library, we can now consider what else can be deduced about the appearance of the volume from which the cuttings came.

Part of the evidence comes from the text visible on the backs of the cuttings:

The text on the back of the oval Vassar cutting is difficult to identify: the top word is uncertain except for the letter "a", the second line is perhaps part of "ecclesie", and the last line is apparently part of "Amen".

The text on the back of the rectangular cutting can be identified as snippets of the priest's prayer at the offering of the chalice:
Offerimus tibi domine calicem salutaris tuam deprecantes clementiam ut in conspectu divinae majestatis tuae pro nostra et totius mundi salute cum odore suavitatis ascendat.
I know nothing of the back of the Antiquus cutting, and I do not know if a photograph exists of the back of the Wildenstein cutting, but its text was identified by Boinet in 1926:
"Au verso, texte du canon de la messe : Cum Joanne, Stephano, Mathia, Barnaba..."
This is part of the prayer "Nobis quoque", and the initial is an "N":
We can be confident that there were only two or three words of text per line in the volume from which the Vassar cuttings come, as the text on the back of the rectangular one must have been laid-out on the page something like this:
pro nostra et to-
tius mundi sal-
ute cum odore
suavitatis asce-
(The surviving fragments of text all have to come from the ends of the lines, the right-hand side of the page, because the historiated initial on the other side must have been on the left-hand side of the page.)

The parent volume thus had fewer words per line, and presumably also fewer lines per page, than the Morgan manuscript:

The appearance of the text on the page must have been instead more like the Missal of Cardinal Antonio Pallavicini Gentili (d.1507):
Biblioteca Nacional de España, Vitr. 22-7 [source]
The comparison with the Palavicini Missal, with its "Te igitur" historiated initial representing Christ, arms outspread, before the Cross, also provides an interesting comparison with a cutting sold at Sotheby's (2 December 1997, lot 82), attributed to Attavante, also doubtless from a Missal of Leo X—very possibly the same one as the Vassar cuttings:

The Morgan manuscript has 29 historiated initials on its 19 leaves, one at the beginning of each prayer. If the dismembered Missal was decorated to a similarly dense extent, which seems very likely, the four cuttings thus far identified must come from a much larger group, and this allows us to re-read the 1838 Ottley auction catalogue in a new light.

I previously suggested the the Vassar and related cuttings formed part of lot 219, or more probably lot 220, but actually it is also possible that lots 221–226 also contain as many as thirty-six further cuttings from the same manuscript, also depicting a priest at an altar:
"219  A sheet—Christ, with Emblems of the Passion, and seven
small miniatures of Priests officiating at the Altar, enclosed
in pieces of Border, with the Arms of Leo X
220  Seven similar pieces of Priests at the Altar
221  Nine others ; and a representation of the Trinity
222  Nine others
223  Four others, very small and highly finished
224  Four others
225  Four others, St. John, &c.
226  Six others"
The first item of lot 219, "Christ, with Emblems of the Passion", could plausibly be a description of the ex-Sotheby's initial shown above. When sold in 1997, this cutting was accompanied by 4 piece of border including the devices and arms of Leo X, so an even better match is therefore provided by the preceding item, lot 218:
"218  The Resurrection, and half-length figure of Christ, with Emblems of the Passion, standing in the Sepulchre enclosed in four pieces of Border, with the Arms of Pope Leo X."

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