NUMEROUS BLUE AND RED INITIALS, FROM THE LIBRARY OF A HARROW MASTER
Manuscript in Latin on Vellum.
Milan, 14th Century.
8vo. 12 x 16.5 cm, ff. (234); (1)8, (2)10, (3)10, (4)10, (5)10, (6)10, (7)8, (8)8, (9)8, (10)8, (11)8, (12)11, (13)8, (14)8, (15)8, (16)4, (17)10, (18)22, (19)10, (20)10, (21)10, (22)10, (23)10, (24)10, (25)10; 25 to 31 lines, double column in black ink with red captions and passages, two historiated initials in red, blue, pink, off-white and liquid gold with floral extensions along margins, numerous initials in blue or red; fol 2₁₀ deliberately excised at early date, probably erroneously as a result of the catchword being misplaced on 2₉ rather than 2₁₀; initial and final two leaves with mainly marginal spotting, a few leaves with minor abrasions, spots or smudges; generally a good clean and very well margined copy in English Regency calf, covers with gilt-tooled borders; rebacked and with restorations.
This Latin handbook with instructions and liturgical texts for saying mass for the priest’s use is of Milanese origin, as is clear from the style of the historiated initials. The script, produced by more than one scribe, has the vestiges of a French influenced hand. It opens with ‘Incipit ordo missalis secundum consuetudinem Curiae Romani,’ and with the splendid initial depicting King Solomon at prayer. Leaf (99) opens with the second historiated initial, depicting Christ on the cross. The rubricated passages indicate the priest’s gestures and liturgical actions; the size of handwriting varies throughout the text in order to mark different parts of the liturgy.
Because of the daily use of missals for the celebration of mass, their survival rate has been lower than of other liturgical volumes and their production was much smaller than for books of hours. Consequently, nice copies especially from the fourteenth century are rare.
Provenance: Calligraphic inscription on initial blank paper leaf stating that the book was ‘once resting (olim quieverat)’ in the library of Abbé Luigi Celotti (1759 – 1843), an Italian art dealer and collector of illuminated miniatures and that, in 1821, it was given by Henry Drury to one William Thornton of Harrow. Henry Drury (1778 – 1841) was rector of Fingest, Buckinghamshire, from 1820 master at Harrow, and a renowned book collector, whose manuscripts were sold via auction in 1827 in London. He was an original member of the Roxburghe Club and a friend of the bibliographer Dibdin, who mentioned him repeatedly in his writings.