Sunday, 14 June 2015

Miniatures From a Franciscan Prayerbook?

After a hiatus of a few weeks I have re-commenced blogging; my last couple of posts have been about items in the forthcoming London July auction sales of medieval manuscripts. There will be more to come.

Regular readers will know that I enjoy virtually reuniting separated cuttings, leaves, and volumes, of dispersed manuscripts. Just now I had one of those "Aha!" moments when I recognised such a connection.

The first miniature below will be Sotheby's, 7 July 2915, lot 56, and the other one was acquired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1958.

The different lighting conditions, etc., of the photographs make them appear superficially rather different, but the style appears to be the same, as do the dimensions: the Sotheby's catalogue reports its leaf to be 164×102mm, while the Philly one is reported to be 165×100mm (perhaps rounded to the nearest 5mm).

If the parent manuscript had only one image of St Francis, one would assume the image originally faced a suffrage to the saint in a Book of Hours (the Sotheby's description is careful to say "probably", not certainly, from a Book of Hours), but as he apparently appeared twice, the second time with St Clare, one of his first followers, this suggests not only that the book had a strong Franciscan element, but also that it may have been some sort of prayerbook, rather than a standard Book of Hours.

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