Accession year 2006
Parchment; 78 fols.; 550 x 385 mm; numerous pen-flourished initials in alternating blue and red, six decorated initials with phytomorphic motifs (fols. 88, 108, 124, 126v, 137v, 158), 10 inhabited and historiated initials (fols. 12, 42, 51, 63, 93v, 113v, 128v, 140, 141v, 155). Late 15th-century binding on wooden boards with large metal studs at the corners.
Collection Fondazione Francesco Federico Cerruti per l’Arte
Long-term loan Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Turin
Inv. no. CC.23.L.1500.A671
Provenance: Collection of Henry Cawood Embleton, Leeds; Sotheby’s, London, Western Manuscripts and Miniatures, 7 December 1982 (lot 98); Collection of Raffaello Amati, London; J. Günther Antiquariat, Hamburg, G. Bartz, K. Georgi, M. Schulz, Fifty Manuscripts & Miniatures, 2006 (cat. 8, lot 7).
Bibliography: Western Manuscripts and Miniatures 1982, p. 132, lot 98; F. Lollini, “Miniature a Imola: un abbozzo di tracciato e qualche proposta tra Emilia e Romagna”, in Faranda 1994, pp. 109, 111, 131-132, note 13; F. Lollini, “Catalogo”, in Faranda 1994, p. 188; A. Conti, “Giotto e la pittura italiana nella prima metà del Trecento”, in Castelfranchi Vegas 1993, p. 93, fig. 333; F. Lollini, cat. 28, in Rimini 1995, pp. 164-172; P. G. Pasini, “Fra scrittura e pittura: fortuna e arte di Neri da Rimini miniatore notaio”, in Rimini 1995, pp. 38, 46, 48; Dauner 1996; Lollini 1996, pp. 86, 88, 94-95; Dauner 1998, pp. 138-144, 236-237; G. Ragionieri, “La pittura e la miniatura del Trecento a Rimini e nei territori malatestiani”, in Bellosi 2002, p. 62; Bartz, Georgi, Schulz 2006, pp. 26-29, lot 7 [G. Freuler]; G. Freuler, “398. Neri da Rimini. Rimini, ca. 1314. Antiphonarblatt mit der Bildinitiale T mit dem Apostel Petrus”, in Bücher & Autographen 2016.
Neri da Rimini, the illuminator whose work is well known between 1300 and 1338, thanks to archive documents and a considerable number of decorated manuscripts and single leaves. The antiphonaries for San Francesco illustrate Neri da Rimini’s activity at its very peak.
Known to the scholarship as the Amati Antiphonary after the London collector who, after the sale at Sotheby’s in 1982, recovered and reinstated the folios that had been removed and dispersed, the manuscript contains the Proprium de tempore (from the twelfth Sunday after Pentecost to the fourth Sunday in September) and the Proprium de sanctis (from the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul on 29 June to the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 15 September).
The work presumably belongs to a series made for the convent of San Francesco in Rimini and must originally have comprised at least six antiphonaries, the surviving volumes and leaves of which are now dispersed throughout public and private collections.1 One of these sheets (Zurich, private collection), containing the antiphony of the vigil of the vesper for the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul and decorated with an initial containing the figure of St Peter, was identified as the first of the three missing from the Amati Antiphonary (fols. 77, 142, 158) at the time of its 1982 sale at Sotheby’s; likewise, a proposal was made to acknowledge the single leaf now preserved in Philadelphia (Free Library, Lewis E M 73:06), decorated with an initial inhabited by a Virgin enthroned, as another of those previously removed from the same manuscript (fol. 142 or 158).2
Along the lower margin of fol. 2 we can read the partially trimmed date “C m. ccc. xiiij” that, together with the name of the scribe “fr(ater) Bonfantinus antiquior de Bon(onia)”, is also to be found in another three manuscripts from the same series in Bologna (Museo Civico Medievale, MS. 540, fol. 1), in Krakow (Czartoryski Library, MS. 3464, fol. 1) and in Philadelphia (Free Library, Lewis, E M 68:7-9, fol. 1). In the Bolognese manuscript, the figure of a kneeling Franciscan in the decoration of the lower margin on fol. 3v shows an open book in which we can read the name “Riu(s)/ne”, a syllabic anagram of Nerius.
This was Neri da Rimini, the illuminator whose work is well known between 1300 and 1338, thanks to archive documents and a considerable number of decorated manuscripts and single leaves. The antiphonaries for San Francesco illustrate Neri da Rimini’s activity at its very peak: in comparison with the illuminator’s earliest works, the figures here appear to be sculpturally modelled and articulated, with a focus on rendering their facial features. This is probably the result of careful study of the art of Giotto, and particularly the work of his successors in Rimini, such as Giovanni and Pietro da Rimini.
It has also been observed that the inhabited and historiated initials in the Amati Antiphonary, with figures and scenes of saints, reveal a stylistic evolution when compared with Neri’s earlier works: the colour palette is reduced, gold is reserved for the halos and, above all, the figures, who are dressed in clothes of a single colour, mostly a subtle secondary shade, and modelled with thin brown brushstrokes, stand out against colourful backgrounds (primarily blue), sometimes embellished by slender racemes or ornamental motifs in a paler colour.
1 Dauner 1998, pp. 97-144.
2 G. Freuler, “398. Neri da Rimini. Rimini, ca. 1314. Antiphonarblatt mit der Bildinitiale T mit dem Apostel Petrus”, in Bücher & Autographen 2016, pp. 114-115.