The J. Paul Getty Museum

Six detached leaves from the Gradual of the Carthusian Monastery Santo Spirito near Lucca

Object Details

Title:

Six detached leaves from the Gradual of the Carthusian Monastery Santo Spirito near Lucca

Artist/Maker:

Niccolò di Giacomo da Bologna (Italian, active 1349 - 1403)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

Various, see extensions

Medium:

Various, see extensions

Object Number:

Ms. 115 (2017.122)

Credit Line:

Gift of Elizabeth J. Ferrell

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Object Description

These six large historiated initials are from a group of twenty known cuttings originally from a choir book made for the Carthusian monastery of Santo Spirito, Lucca, commissioned by Niccolò di Lazzara, the archbishop of Lucca. Another cutting from the same manuscript is also in the Getty Collection (Ms. 86). The artist, Niccolò da Bologna, was the most prolific illuminator of the fourteenth century. He developed creative strategies for fitting figures and narratives within the curves or linear forms of initial letters in choral manuscripts. Three bearded men with identical features represent the Christian Trinity — God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — and the white robes of each create a visual exuberance of folds. The central figure holds open a book and makes a blessing gesture. In another, a group of five men gather around a soldier who has just beheaded a saint, whose bloody head and neck add a gruesome effect to the scene. Saint Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary, in separate initial "G’s," are assumed into heaven: the Magdalene is covered by her hair, which grew long during her meditation in the wilderness; the Holy Virgin gives her girdle to Saint Thomas, who according to the Golden Legend was in India at the time of Mary’s assumption (the girdle was one of the most celebrated relics in Tuscany at the time). The undulating form of an initial "S" divides a scene of the beheading of Saint Paul. Finally, the middle leg of an initial "M" separates the Apostles into two groups of six, several of whom hold the instruments of their death.

Provenance
Provenance
by 1402 - 1838

Carthusian Abbey of Santo Spirito in Farneta (Lucca), Italian, , acquired by James Dennistoun, 1838.

1838 - 1855

James Dennistoun, Scottish, 1803 - 1855, by liberal provision in his trust-deed, Mr. Dennistoun provided for the whole of his manuscript collections being placed in the hands of his friend, Mark Napier, Esq., 1855.

1855 - after 1870

Mark Napier, Scottish, 1798 - 1879, by inheritance to the granddaughter of James Dennistoun, Isabella (Dennistoun) Henson, wife of Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham, after 1870.
Source: Dennistoun, James Wallis, James Irving, and Irving, Joseph. Some Account of the Family of Dennistoun of Dennistoun and Colgrain. Glasgow: For Private Circulation, 1906

- 1930

Isabelle Caroline Henson, Scottish, 1870 - 1949, sold to Lord Kenneth McKenzie Clark, 1930.

- 1962

Lord Kenneth McKenzie Clark, British, 1903 - 1983 [sold, Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures, Sotheby & Co., London, June 18, 1961, lot 125 (nos. 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 18), to H.P. Kraus.]

1962 - 1985

Hans P. Kraus, Sr., American, born Austria, 1907 - 1988 (New York, New York), sold to Bruce Ferrini, 1985.

1985 - 1999

Bruce Ferrini Rare Books (Akron, Ohio), sold to James E. Ferrell and Elizabeth J. Ferrell, 1999/2000.

1999/2000 - 2017

James E. Ferrell and Elizabeth J. Ferrell, by gift to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017

Provenance Remarks: Prior to 1855 James Dennistoun traveled to Italy and assembled a series of illuminated manuscripts into an album, some of which are also apart of the Getty Collection. Though it is not known the extent of the size of the album, it is well documented that the majority of the manuscripts of his collection became part of the parcels handed to his friend, Mark Napier as part of the liberal provision in his trust-deed. As Napier was empowered to go over, select, and arrange the different objects of his collection, the manuscripts were then properly bound, indexed, and catalogued before being presented in a series of eleven volumes to the Faculty of Advocates on behalf of Dennistoun. As of 2020 the provenance reflects Napier retaining ownership of the manuscript until after 1870.

Bibliography
Bibliography

Dennistoun, James Wallis, James Irving, and Irving, Joseph. Some Account of the Family of Dennistoun of Dennistoun and Colgrain. Glasgow: For Private Circulation, 1906, pp. 45-46.

Günther, D. (2002). Miniatures and illuminated leaves from the 12th to the 16th centuries (Katalog 5). Hamburg: Dr. Jörn Günther - Antiquariat, pp. 106-109.

Keene, Bryan C. "Da Lucca A Los Angeles: Un Graduale Di Niccolò Da Bologna." Alumina Pagine Miniate, May/June 2019, 12-17, pp. 12-17.