c 1460 Missal Leaf - Sano di Pietro - Adoration of Magi


Original 15th century manuscript Missal leaf. Executed by hand in manuscript calligraphy on animal parchment. (340 x 250mm - 13.6 x 10").

Two columns (29 lines each) of Latin text, written in rotunda script in black and red; large initials alternately in blue and red with the largest initials having extensive fine pen-scroll tracery in blue and red extending to the margins. Italy (probably Siena) c. 1460.

Attributed to the great Sienese artist & panel painter Sano di Pietro  (1405-81) & his workshop a style readily recognizable, not only by the finely modeled faces, but also by the marvelous illuminations inhabiting his borders!

The five-line historiated “D” depicts The Adoration of the Magi showing the Magi, Mary & Christ Child. The illuminated border along the bottom is composed of acanthus leaves, flowers, & gold discs – plus the three horses of the Magi in blue, orange, green, pink, red & burnished gold!

The Illuminated “I” begins Matthew 2:9-23: “In illo…Defuncto…” (But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt,..).

Provenance: From a Missal made for a bishop, with his arms (elsewhere in missal), per pale azure & or, an eagle displayed with two heads dimidiated of the same, augmented in fess with an escutcheon gules  & a cross gemelle or. The manuscript was sold by the Andulusia Foundation at Christie’s NY, 16 May 1986, lot 213, subsequently dispersed. The finely modeled faces in rich color & gold are redolent of Sano di Pietro’s work & the closest parallels are to a Gradual illuminated by him for the Piccolomini family (Siena, Piccolomini Library cod.17.11). 

Presented in an archival 20x16'' mat

  • Inventory# IM-1796