The parent manuscript of this leaf and its known companion leaves is the fragmentary ms. 267, a Missal currently in the Monastic Library of San Francesco in Assisi. The text found on this leaf is that for the Feast of Corpus Christi in the Roman Missal, ending with the sequence Lauda Syon, which was composed by Thomas Aquinas. The text is recited at the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday, or Corpus Christi. The historiated initial marks the prayer that expresses gratitude to God for the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is a memorial to the Passion.
Before a blue background and highlighted with white filigree, the initial D presents the full-length figure of Christ in a blue robe covered by a rose cloak, one arm hidden under a white cloth or towel. Barefoot, he leans forward towards five apostles kneeling before him, ready to receive the bread from his hand. The men are dressed in greyish-brown tunics, yet the first to accept the holy bread is also differentiated with a rose mantle, while the man sitting behind him is in blue. All of the figures have a golden halo, outlined in black and highlighted with white dots, surrounding dark blueish faces with eyes below dark brows, the lengths of noses outlined in white, and slightly red blushed cheeks.
Both the blue ground and the mauve letter are adorned with white filigree. The inside of the letter roundel is highlighted in gold and white, and two bands in the centre on each side of the D are in gold and outlined in black. In the left margin, the letter field has a characteristic trilobed projection. The decoration continues in the upper margin and between the text columns with winding tendrils of colourful acanthus leaves and gold bezants.
This leaf and its companion leaves are attributed to a workshop where painting was divided among a main artist responsible for the historiated scenes and others who worked on the border decoration – as can be deduced from several leaves that were not fully completed. The illuminator of these likely emerged from the workshop responsible for the choir books of the Cathedral of Perugia. The facial morphology of his figures appears to prefigure that of the works of Vanni di Baldolo. Our artist’s work may even be closer to that of the Maestro Espressivo di Santa Chiara.
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