DON SIMONE CAMALDOLESE (active 1379-1405) and Workshop
The Empty Tomb, initial ‘R’ from a Gradual (leaf 488 x 368 mm.)
Italy, Florence, c. 1390-1400
This unusual leaf with a large initial ‘R’ depicts the Empty Tomb following Christ’s resurrection. It is newly attributed to Don Simone Camaldolese and workshop, one of the most famous illuminators of late fourteenth-century Florence. The colorful and contrasting foliates with gold leaf, black ground with delicate plants, and the carefully modeled tomb closely compare to initials painted in Choir Books well-documented in the decade before 1400, at a time when the next generation of Florentine illuminators was training under Don Simone’s gaze, including Lorenzo Monaco. Such richly decorated initials for the Resurrexi introit for Easter Sunday more often depict the Resurrection with Christ standing over sleeping Roman soldiers or the Three Mary’s at the Empty Tomb. The present miniature depicts neither, instead showing a closed tomb at bottom and an open tomb in the upper loop of the initial ‘R’, an intriguing and reductive composition.