Leaf from the "Beauvais" Missal , ca. 1290
Ink, tempera, and gold leaf on parchment
11 5/16 x 7 11/16 in. (28.7 x 19.5 cm)
Richard Lee Ripin Fund and R. T. Miller, Jr. Fund, 1993
This leaf from the Canon, or consecration prayers, is from a missal commissioned in the late thirteenth century by a prominent cleric, probably the bishop of Beauvais in northeastern France.
Associated on the basis of lost inscriptions with the great Gothic cathedral of Beauvais located northeast of Paris, the missal from which this leaf was removed presents French Gothic illumination of the turn of the fourteenth century at its most refined. In its complete state, the manuscript had 309 leaves, thirty-five large decorative initials with burnished gold, numerous smaller initials, and four historiated initials, three depicting the celebration of mass, and the fourth, Ecclesia and Synagoga.1 All four major initials (one of them on the leaf at Oberlin) were concentrated in the Canon, the set of invariable prayers employed at the moment of consecration, the point during the Mass at which, according to Catholic doctrine, the sacramental elements of bread and wine are transformed through the words and ritual actions of the priest into the body and blood of Christ. 2 Two of the other initials from the Canon occur on a leaf now in the collection of The Cleveland Museum of Art.3
The initial, which displays the priest at the altar, hands joined and eyes uplifted in prayer to the head of Christ appearing in the corner, would have allowed the celebrant to see in the manuscript both a mirror of and model for his own actions.4 A large chalice, covered in part with a corporal, and a wafer marked with a cross are placed atop the altar. The text following the initial--"Aufer a nobis domine iniquitates nostras" (Remove from us, O Lord, our sins)--occurs only once in the Canon.5 Depictions of liturgical ceremonies are surprisingly rare in early medieval manuscripts, but become increasingly common in the course of the thirteenth century, perhaps in part due to a self-conscious effort on the part of the church following the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) to codify ritual and liturgical ceremony.6
The hint of shadowing and modeling in both the altar cloth and the priest's garments mark a significant departure from the flat, calligraphic conventions that marked earlier Gothic art and identify the artist or workshop that produced the manuscript as contemporary to others rooted in northeastern France, most notably that of the illuminator Master Honoré.7
Of no less interest than the initial itself is the decorative framework that integrates it with the surrounding text. The long descender with interlaced terminals and spiky foliate extensions sets off the text, which is written sine pedibus (without feet) in a fine professional hand. In spite of the generous size and spacing of the letters, the scribe did not fill either column, leaving as much as half its space for the colorful line fillers that preserve the decorative unity of the text block. Although they seem out of place in a liturgical manuscript, the marginalia--in the upper margin, a hound chasing a rabbit, in the lower margin, a lion and another creature, either erased or otherwise eradicated--provide a playful complement to the seriousness of the texts and images at the center.8 The leaf is blank on the verso, suggesting it formed the last folio in its original gathering.
The manuscript was last recorded as complete when it was sold at Sotheby's London in 1926, as part of the collection of Henri Auguste Brölemann, a commercial broker in Lyon in the early nineteenth century.9 Brölemann may have purchased the manuscript in the Gay sale, Lyons, in 1834.10 From him, it passed to his great-granddaughter and heiress, Madame Etienne Mallet. According to the catalogue, the lower edges of the "Missel de Bauvais" [sic] were tooled au pointillé.11 The description also records that the blank recto of the first leaf of the calendar carried the inscription (of uncertain date), "Dns Robertus de hangestis quondam can.cus Beluacci legauit Istam terciam ptem missalis Ecclie Beluaccii p obitu suo in eadem ppet. singul. annis faciendo tcia die Novembr," according to which Canon Robert de Hangest left the Missal to the cathedral of Beauvais upon his death on 3 November, year unknown. Nothing further of Robert de Hangest is known.
Purchased by Permain in 1926, the manuscript passed to Otto Ege (1888-1951), a collector in Cleveland who occasionally broke up manuscripts, some with the help of the dealer, Philip C. Duschnes.12 As the manuscript is not listed as part of Ege's collection in de Ricci's Census of 1935-40, it probably was acquired after that date.13 The Oberlin leaf was subsequently purchased by the art historian Harry Bober (1915-1988), New York, and from his heirs by Bruce Ferrini Rare Books and Manuscripts, Akron, Ohio.
J. F. Hamburger
(Possibly) sale Gay, Lyon, 1834
Collection Henri Auguste Brölemann, Lyon
By descent to his great granddaughter, Mme Etienne Mallet
Sale London (Sotheby's), 4 May 1926, lot 161 (£970, to Permain [no initial])
Collection Otto Ege, Cleveland (after 1935; before 1951)
Collection Harry Bober (1915-1988), New York (after ca. 1951)
Purchased from his estate by Bruce Ferrini Rare Books and Manuscripts, Akron, Ohio, from whom purchased by museum in 1993
Beaumont, Texas, Art Museum of Southern Texas, 1991-92. Paths to Grace: A Selection of Medieval Illuminated Manuscript Leaves and Devotional Objects. 28 September - 5 January. Cat. no. 18.
Oberlin, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, 1995. Books of Revelation: Medieval Leaves and Manuscripts from Oberlin College Collections. 31 January - 9 April. Cat. no. 7.
Castle, L. P. Paths to Grace: A Selection of Medieval Illuminated Manuscript Leaves and Devotional Objects. Introduction by R. S. Wieck. Exh. cat., Art Museum of Southern Texas, Beaumont, 1991, cat. no. 18.
Hamburger, Jeffrey F. Books of Revelation: Medieval Leaves and Manuscripts from Oberlin College Collections. Exh. cat., Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, 1995, pp. 9-10, cat. no. 7.
The text block measures 20 x 13.5 cm and consists of fifteen lines, in two columns, written in black ink. The sheet is trimmed, especially at the top edge. It is ruled in hard point, with no prick marks. There are indentations from binding threads along the left edge.
A loss in the vellum within the text on the left in the middle of the fourth line from the bottom has been filled and retouched. There are minor losses in the paint and gold due to abrasion, cracking of the medium, and delamination. One of the marginal figures has been partially erased. The leaf is lightly creased and damaged by damp at the bottom, with some soiling at the edges.
1. The 1926 sales catalogue inaccurately describes the initial representing Church and Synagogue as "two queens"; London (Sotheby's), 5 May 1926, lot 161, p. 62 (see note 9 below).
2. See J. A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development, 2 vols. (Dublin, 1986); and A. Hughes, Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to Their Organization and Terminology (Toronto, 1982).
3. 28.5 x 20 cm, The Cleveland Museum of Art, inv. 82.141.
4. For the history of this gesture, see H. Demisch, Erhobene Hönde: Geschichte einer Gebörde in der bildenden Kunst (Stuttgart, 1984); and R. Suntrup, Die Bedeutung der liturgischen Gebörden und Bewegungen in lateinischen und deutschen Auslegungen der 9. bis 13. Jahrhunderts (Münstersche Mittelalter-Schriften 37) (Munich, 1978).
5. For the history of this prayer, see A. Hughes, Medieval Manuscripts for Mass and Office: A Guide to their Organization and Terminology (Toronto, 1982), p. 503; and J. A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development, vol. 1 (Dublin, 1986), pp. 79, 360, 362, and 364. Jungman notes that the prayer formed an established part of the Ordo missae from the twelfth century.
6. For the iconography of liturgical performance, see R. E. Reynolds, "Image and Text: A Carolingian Illustration of Modifications in the Early Roman Eucharistic Ordines," Viator 14 (1983), pp. 59-75; and F. Avril, "Une curieuse illustration de la Fte-Dieu: L'Iconographie du Christ prtreélevant l'hostie et sa diffusion," Rituels: Mélanges à Pierre-Marie Guy, O.P., ed. P. De Clerk and E. Palazzo (Paris, 1990), pp. 39-54. For illustrations of missals, the best introduction remains V. Leroquais, Les Sacramentaires et les missels manuscrits des biblioth?ques publiques de France, 3 vols. (Paris, 1924).
7. On Honoré, see E. Kosmer, "Master Honoré: A Reconsideration of the Documents," Gesta 14 (1975), pp. 63-68, with additional bibliography. E. König (Der Rosenroman des Berthaud d'Achy, Codex Urbinatus latinus 376: Kommentarband [Stuttgart, 1988], pp. 157 and 171 n. 133) cites the manuscript as an example of late thirteenth-century Beauvais illumination. For further information on illumination in northeastern France, with additional bibliography, see A. Stones, Gothic Manuscripts, 1260-1320 (A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France 2) (London, forthcoming).
8. See M. Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art (Cambridge, Mass., 1992).
9. "Catalogue of a collection of very important illuminated manuscripts and fine printed horae with a few early illustrated books formed during the early part of the nineteenth century by Henri Auguste Brölemann....," Sotheby's London, 4-5 May 1926. This and the rest of the information concerning the provenance of the manuscript I owe to Christopher de Hamel, Sotheby's, London.
11. Sale London (Sotheby's), 5 May 1926, pp. 62-63.
12. Several other leaves from the missal appeared in Ege's catalogue, Original Leaves from Medieval Manuscripts, no. 10, and in P. C. Duschnes's catalogue 54, no. 25.
13. See Seymour de Ricci, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, 3 vols. (New York, 1935-40).
14. Boston Public Library, ms. 1538 (see Seymour de Ricci, Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada, Supplement, ed. C. V. Faye and W. H. Bond, [New York, 1962], p. 212); the Hollins Collection in Virginia (op. cit., p. 525); The Cleveland Museum of Art, Acc. 82.141 (see Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 70, no. 1 [January, 1983], p. 50, ill. p. 8 fig. 10); the Houghton Library, Harvard University, pf.ms.typ.405; the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, part of ms. 1021; the University Club, Chicago; the Glencairn Museum, 07.ms.626; the Endowment for Biblical Research, Boston, Leaf 86 (see J. Oliver, Manuscripts Sacred and Secular [Boston, 1985], no. 63, pl. III); the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library; and the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y.
15. Maggs, London, Bulletin 11 (1982), no. 43, pl. XX; sale London (Sotheby's), 26 November, 1985, lot 61; Bruce Ferrini Rare Books, Akron, Ohio, Catalogue 1 (1987), nos. 48-49; and Quaritch, London, Catalogue 1147 (1991), no. 60.