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Illuminated leaf on vellum from the Llangattock Breviary, also known as the Breviary of Leonello d'Este. [North East Italy (Ferrara), c. 1441-



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In outer border of verso delicately conceived winged cherub astride a bird, both sides of leaf with full-length text borders, on left-hand side of each column, of gold and coloured bars with coloured ornamental knots mounted within their bodies, atop and at base of each decorative bar sprays of scrolling foliage with flowers and foliage in pink, orange, blue, green, red, and brown terminating in bezants (the catchword in one reads cu[n]ditati[s]), five two-line initials in highly burnished gold, three on a blue ground, two on a pink ground, all with white tracery, rubrics in red (outer border just trimmed affecting one or two sprays).

Size of leaf: 273 x 200mm. Text written in an attractive gothic hand in two sizes, double column, 30 lines.

A very attractive leaf in excellent condition from the Llangattock Breviary, an outstanding manuscript which was almost certainly illuminated for the chapel of the Marquises of Este, probably Leonello d'Este, duke of Ferrara 1441-50. This Breviary appears to be that recorded in the D'Este accounts as having been illuminated by Giorgio d'Alemagna, Guglielmo Giraldi, Magnamino Matteo de' Pasti and Bartolomeo Benincà (see F. Toniolo, La miniatura a Ferrara dal tempo di Cosmè Tura all'eredità di Ercole de' Roberti, 1998, pp.19-20 and 76-7). It may have been a companion piece to the famous Missal of Borso d'Este which was also the work of the famous illuminator Guglielmo Giraldi and completed by 6 May 1456 (Modena, Biblioteca Estense, MS. OE W.5.2, Lat.239).

The manuscript was apparently brought to Britain from Spain during the Peninsular War when it was almost complete, but with many initials cut out. It belonged to the Rolls family, later Lords Llangattock, and was sold at Christies on 8 December 1958, lot 190, after which it was broken up. A miniature from the manuscript was used on a set of postage stamps issued by St. Helena in 1971. 

The largest surviving part is at Harvard, with individual leaves now scattered worldwide across an array of institutional and private collections (see Les Enluminures du Louvre: Moyen Âge et Renaissance, 2011, pp.84-88, for recent discussion and full page reproductions of their leaves).

The text is from the Feast for the Common of One Martyr, Matins, Lesson 1-6.


Stock Code: 220942