Monday, August 19, 2013

Homilary, Portrait of the Evangelist Matthew, Walters Manuscript W.148, fol. 3r

This richly illuminated fourteenth-century German homilary is particularly interesting for its rare bifolium of drawings bound in at the front of the book. The headgear worn by the nuns in the drawings is characteristic of Cistercensian and Premostratensian nuns in northern Germany as early as circa 1320. Evidence for dating and localization is also found in the manuscript's relationship with a second homilary in the Bodleian Library (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Douce 185). Despite minor codicological differences--page layout, textblock dimensions, and ruling--it seems likely that the two homilaries were composed as a set in one scriptorium. The drawings at the beginning of the Walters manuscript were inspired by miniatures within the book and are very similar to the style of Master of Douce 185, recently identified as a collaborator of the Willehalm Master. Although the Walters homilary lacks internal evidence for localization, it can be attributed to the lower Rhine on the basis of general affinities between work of this region and English art. The Walters homilary is stylistically close to the small ivory book illustrated with fourteen paintings of the Passion in the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. no.11-1872), which has Westphalian and north German characteristics. Palette, figural drawings, the use of checkered spandrels, large ivy-leaf terminals, and ape marginalia in the Walters homilary are also close to fragments of an antiphonary from Westphalia scattered in German collections (Düsseldorf, Universitätsbibliothek, Ms. D. 37a, b, c and Hamm, Städtisches Gustav-Lübcke-Museum, Mss 5474-5476). A second group of stylistically related manuscripts can be found in a two-volume antiphonary from the Dominican nunnery of Paradise near Soest (Düsseldorf, Universitätsbibliothek, Mss. D.7 and D.9).

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