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The Ascension of Christ
Pacino di Bonaguida (Italian (Florentine), active about 1303 - about 1347)
Florence, Italy (Place created)
Tempera, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
Leaf: 44.4 x 31.8 cm (17 1/2 x 12 1/2 in.)
This miniature depicts the Ascension, Christ's appearance on earth after the Resurrection when his apostles witness him being taken to heaven. Christ is shown as an object of veneration, like a cult statue, purposefully separated from the other figures in the narrative. All of the other participants direct their attention toward him--even the angels with instruments who appear along the sides. The two kneeling figures in the border below, who also gaze in adoration up at Christ, are members of the Compagnia di Sant'Agnese, a group of pious laypeople (both men and women) who met at the church of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence. The manuscript from which this leaf comes was a laudario, a hymnal used by the group in their public devotions. The hymn for the feast of the Ascension begins below the miniature.
The miniature's artist, Pacino di Bonaguida, was well known in Florence for his devotional paintings. Here he has focused attention on the figure of Jesus, who is isolated at the center of the image. Christ's robes of brilliant yellow and white, however, make him less substantial than the figures below and at the same time, more radiant, absorbed into the brightness of the gold surrounding him, as he ascends to heaven.
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Rare Finds: Ten Years of Collecting Manuscripts (February 12 to April 20, 2008)
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