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The Elevation of the Host; Initial T: A Putto Between the Sun and the Moon
Master of the Brussels Initials (Italian, active about 1389 - 1410)
Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Place Created)
between 1389 and 1404
Tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint, and ink on parchment
Ms. 34 (88.MG.71), fol. 130
Leaf: 33 × 24 cm (13 × 9 7/16 in.)
Standing at the altar before a golden tabernacle and surrounded by monks and parishioners, the priest elevates the host at the climactic moment of the Mass. The illuminator expressed the tension of this great drama when the people are first shown the consecrated Eucharist: the worshippers with their varied and animated expressions seem completely caught up in the drama. Adding to the sense that the scene is capturing a specific moment, the standing monks on the left sing from a choir book with open mouths. The scene takes place in a groin-vaulted Gothic church. The varied poses of the figures, seen in profile, three-quarter view, and from behind, stress their volumetric presence in space. The Master of the Brussels Initials was particularly inventive in the construction of three-dimensional space. This miniature appropriately prefaces the Canon of the Mass, the introduction to the ritual of the Eucharist. The text of the Canon opens with the initial T, formed by a putto holding his arms aloft between the sun and the moon, with his head tilted backwards in his efforts to see the scene above.
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