Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Greetings

This missal probably belonged to Henry of Chichester, as a late 13th-century note in the manuscript implies. His donation of a missal to Exeter Cathedral is recorded in 1277, and a 1327 catalog of the Cathedral describes the missal as having gilded pages.

It was probably produced in the Salisbury area, by the group of 'the Sarum Master', perhaps around 1250. The occurrence of the feast of St Edmund of Abingdon in the original hand in the Calendar indicates that the missal post dates his canonization in 1246.

The book has eight full-page miniatures and twelve historiated initials, a rather lavish scheme of decoration not usually found in the text of a missal. The artist's work shows his liking for monumental and dramatic compositions. His style is characterized by elongated figures with drapery in strong linear folds, and with heads showing some delicate workmanship.

The handling of the Resurrection is particularly dramatic. Christ steps from the tomb on to the sleeping body of one of the soldiers guarding the tomb. One of the soldiers clutches, in his sleep, both a curved sword and an axe; another holds an upright sword. The faces of the two soldiers are blackened, to suggest infamy.

The figure of Christ, outsize in proportion to the rest of the composition, adds to the drama of the moment depicted, as do the two angels who accompany the event by playing music energetically on their instruments. The elongated, thin figure of Christ is characteristic of the Sarum Master's style. Note how parts of some figures overlap the edges of the decorative frame, suggesting that the subject is bursting from its confines. Some Byzantine-derived influence has been suggested. Marks and Morgan 1981, pp.54-7

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