GRADUAL FOR THE USE OF ROME. Illuminated manuscript on vellum, in Latin, Southern Germany, second half of the fifteenth century.

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Lot 5
GRADUAL FOR THE USE OF ROME.
Illuminated manuscript on vellum, in Latin, Southern Germany, second half of the fifteenth century.

Sold for US$ 52,812 inc. premium

Fine Books and Manuscripts

11 Dec 2020, 10:00 EST

New York

GRADUAL FOR THE USE OF ROME.
Illuminated manuscript on vellum, in Latin, Southern Germany, second half of the fifteenth century.
480 x 355 mm. 194 vellum leaves. Collation: 1-138 146 152 16-248 2510, catchwords in center lower margin on last versos. Contemporary foliation I-CLXXXV, 186-189, plus two unnumbered leaves (with errors), foliation entered on the center left margin of each opening. Eight lines of text in gothic textura script written in black ink and paired with eight lines of music consisting of square neumes on four-line staves ruled in red; written the area: 370 x 240 mm. One-line initials alternating red and blue flourished in opposite color; 100 two-line initials (music line + text line) in combinations of ocher, mauve, blue, green, orange and yellow with fleshy foliate infill; 11 historiated initials of two or four lines some on gold grounds; one miniature. Significant scaling of ink on flesh sides, which are often rewritten in a hand of the seventeenth or eighteenth century, occasional tears to blank margins. 17th or 18th century calf over wooden boards. Bifolium from another music manuscript laid in.
Provenance: The manuscript was copied for use at the church of St. Stephen in Breisach, Germany The opening rubric dedicates it in part to Saints Gervasius and Protasius: In honore ... trinitatis et virinis dei genetricis Marie virginis matris ... Gervasii et protasii ac totius curie celestis Incipit Graduate secundum morem romane curie. Gervasius and Protasius were Christian martyrs, said to have been executed under the Emperor Nero. They were the patron saints of Milan, and in 1164, after the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa had conquered that city, he transferred some their relics to Breisach in Germany, where they have a shrine in the church of St. Stephen and are still regarded as the patron saints of the city.

Illumination:
Miniature: the Annunciation (f. 1). Historiated initials: David offering his soul to God (f. 1), the Christ child swaddled in the manger (f. 13), the Christ child lying naked on greenery under a starry sky (f. 15), Mary and Joseph with the Christ child swaddled in the manger (f. 16), St. Stephen (f. 18), St. John the Evangelist (f. 19), Virgin and child with the three kings (f. 24 ), Resurrection (f. 125), Ascension (f. 141), Pentecost (f. 145), Monstrance (f. 154).

Content:
The Gradual contains the words and music for the sung parts of the Mass, in the case of the present volume for the entire temporale, the proper of times from the first Sunday of Advent to the last Sunday after Pentecost, and also including the major feasts relating to the life of Christ. It would have been paired originally with a companion volume containing the chants for the sanctorale, the proper of the saints. Such large-format liturgical books were often produced in the late Middle Ages to enable groups of priests or monks to sing from a single manuscript, a practice amply documented by miniatures of such groups in manuscripts of the period. These manuscripts often remained in use for several centuries, as was the case here.
The scaling of the ink on the flesh sides of the leaves is a function of the way in which the vellum was prepared. With this manuscript, it also provides a fascinating window into the ongoing use of the book. In the seventeenth or eighteenth century, many of these leaves were rewritten in a later script and the music retraced, undoubtedly in the interest of legibility, but apparently also reflecting revisions in the liturgy, a topic that deserves further investigation. In any case, these pages, as well as the marginal annotations, attest to the long useful life of the book.
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