BOLOGNESE ILLLUMINATOR, close to the Master of Santa Maria Maddalena di Valdipietra (Master of the Statutes of the “Falegnami” of 1298?)
Four Martyr Saints in a Historiated Initial “I” (490 x 360 mm.)
Italy, Bologna, c. 1290-1295
A PUBLISHED LEAF FROM A LARGE 13TH-CENTURY ITALIAN MANUSCRIPT
This leaf, depicting four standing martyr saints, comes from a Gradual, where it introduced the Introit to the Mass for Several Holy Martyrs with the text Intret in conspectu tuo domine gemitus. The anonymous Bolognese artist responsible for these fragments clearly belongs to the same generation of Bolognese illuminators as the Master of Santa Maria Maddalena di Valdipietra, named after a series of single leaves and a couple of choir books illuminated for the Dominican nuns in Santa Maria Maddalena di Valdipietra in Bologna.The latter, much influenced by Byzantine expressive modes, shapes his mask-like faces within strong contrasts of dark and light (e.g. the dark eye-sockets). Our painter, however, articulates his otherwise planar faces in more graphic manner by highlighting the brightest parts with subtle white brush strokes. In comparison with the lively narratives of his contemporary, the First Master of Sant’Agnese, the narrative style of our painter appears more restrained. His somewhat squat figures interact calmly without dramatic gestures. The same characteristics are found in an illuminator who decorated the initial A in the statutes of the Bolognese “falegnami” of 1298. This artist shares a common stylist idiom with the painter of our Four Martyrs, as well as a shared color scheme.