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The Burke Collection of Early Italian Miniatures

Below are a selection of images of the objects on display in the exhibit of The Burke Collection of Early Italian Miniatures on May 2 in the Field Room of Green Library.

Master of Saint Francis (Assisi, c. 1260) Crucifixion

Master of Saint Francis (Assisi, c. 1260) Crucifixion, with the swooning virgin supported by two women companions on the left, and on the right the young John the Evangelist with Saint Francis standing slightly behind him (175 x 140 mm). This iconographic motif appears to be without precedent in thirteenth century representations of the subject, where if Francis is present at all, it is as a diminutive figure kneeling at the foot of the cross. The cross forms the T of the introductory text of the Canon of the Mass, “Te igitur”. The Master of Saint Francis is the anonymous author of a cycle of frescoes with scenes from the life of Saint Francis in the Lower Church in Assisi, which were the basis for the frescoes of the same subject by Giotto in the upper Church in the early 1300’s. Large crucifixes on wood panels by the same artist appear in the National Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris, and Galleria Nazionale in Perugia. This page is from a Missal, presumably used in Assisi less than fifty years after the death of Saint Francis in 1226. It is the artist’s only known work on parchment, and suggests the existence of a scriptorium at the monastery in Assisi.

Maestro Geometrico (Florence, c. 1275). Adam and Eve

Maestro Geometrico (Florence, c. 1275). Adam and Eve (560 x 365 mm) in an initial I. “In principio fecit deus”; the opening lines of the Book of Genesis. Three episodes from the Fall of Man: the serpent tempts Adam and Eve; they are ashamed to face God; and the expulsion from paradise. This artist is known to have worked on a series of choirbooks for the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Novella in Florence.

Sienese choirbook painter (Siena, late 13th century) Virgin and Child

Sienese choirbook painter (Siena, late 13th century) Virgin and Child, with confraternity members, in an initial S on a leaf from a Gradual (428 x 296 mm). The text “Spiritus domini replevit orbem terrarum” is that of the Introit for the Mass of Pentecost. The initial is by one of the documented illuminators who worked on the choirbooks for Siena Cathedral at the end of the 13th century. A possible identification is Memmo di Filipuccio, the future father-in-law of Simone Martini. This Choirbook was commissioned by a confraternity under the patronage of the Virgin, possibly the Confratenita della Misericordia founded in Siena in 1250. See Enzo Carli, The choirbook Miniatures for Siena Cathedral, 1991.

Primo Miniatore Perugino (Perugia, c. 1310-20) Saint Michael the Archangel

Primo Miniatore Perugino (Perugia, c. 1310-20) Saint Michael the Archangel (378 x 138 mm). The initial P is for the feast of Michael the Archangel on September 29, P[rinceps gloriosissime Michael Archangele]. The artist is named for his participation in the Choirbooks in the Biblioteca Comunale of Perugia (MSS 2781 and 2785). He worked in Perugia at the same time as the activity of Giotto in Assisi, a short distance away. Michael waging war on the serpent is described in Revelation 12:7-9.

Pacino di Bonaguida (Florence, c. 1330-40) Annunciation

Pacino di Bonaguida (Florence, c. 1330-40) Annunciation (450 x 350mm) in an initial M. Pacino was the most prolific manuscript painter in the first half of the fourteenth century. Pacino’s works appear in every major collection of Italian manuscript painting, including the Morgan Library, the Louvre, and the British Museum.

Turone di Maxio (Verona, 1356-1387). The Ascension

Turone di Maxio (Verona, 1356-1387). The Ascension (275 x 175mm) in an initial A. Turone and his school produced 18 choirbooks for the Cathedral in Verona, of which one is missing. Formerly in the collections of Dennistoun and Clark

Tomaso da Modena (Modena, c. 1360). Saint Michael the Archangel

Tomaso da Modena (Modena, c. 1360). Saint Michael the Archangel, in an initial I, I[n conspectu angelorum] introducing the feast of Saint Michael on September 29, from a Choirbook (91 x 95 mm). Tomaso was born in Modena, trained in Bologna, and worked for a period of time in Treviso. By 1358, he had returned to Modena where he executed commissions for eminent patrons, including the Emperor Charles IV.

Don Silvestro Dei Gherarducci (Florence, c. 1385-90) Saint Placidus

Don Silvestro Dei Gherarducci (Florence, c. 1385-90) Saint Placidus (302 x 226 mm.) This initial V comes from Corale 6 (Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana), which was originally painted for the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Giorgio Vasari refers by name to Don Silvestro who illuminated choirbooks at Santa Maria degli Angeli before the time of Lorenzo Monaco. See Corpus of Florentine Painting, Tendencies of Gothic in Florence: Don Silvestro Dei Gherarducci, by Gaudenz Freuler, 1997.

Don Simone Camaldolese (Florence, c. 1410) Nativity

Don Simone Camaldolese (Florence, c. 1410) Nativity. (375 x 295 mm) Don Simone was a leader of the school of manuscript illumination at the Monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli that also included Lorenzo Monaco and Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci. This miniature depicts the scene of the Nativity within an initial H, which introduces the Antiphon “Hodie Christus natus est” (Today Christ is born) sung on Christmas day. The miniature appears to come from an Antiphonary in the church of Santa Croce in Florence that Boskovitz attributes to the peak of Don Simone’s development, calling it comparable to the paintings of Lorenzo Monaco.

Andrea di Bartolo (Siena c. 1415-20). Christ in Majesty

Andrea di Bartolo (Siena c. 1415-20). Christ in Majesty, or Christ and the Evangelists: Matthew-angel, Mark-lion, Luke-bull, and John-eagle (200 x 177 mm) in an initial O. Andrea di Bartolo was the son of the painter Bartolo di Fredi. He is recorded extensively as having created panel paintings, painted sculptures, and drawings for stained glass in Siena and in the Veneto.

Giovanni di Paolo, (Siena, 1430). Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness

Giovanni di Paolo, (Siena, 1430). Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness (275 x 190mm) in an initial P. Illustrated in Painting in Renaissance Siena, The Metropolitan Museum, 1988. From the collections of Dennistoun and Clark.

Giovanni di Paolo (Siena, early 1440’s). Office of the Dead

Giovanni di Paolo (Siena, early 1440’s). Office of the Dead (574 x 393mm) in an initial R. He is one of the leading Sienese painters of the fifteenth century, and is best known for his panel paintings that are found in many major museums. This is one of only two pages outside of Italy, the other being in the Getty Museum.

Francesco d’ Antonio del Chierico (Florence, c. 1460). The Sacrifice of Isaac

Francesco d’ Antonio del Chierico (Florence, c. 1460). The Sacrifice of Isaac (577 x 460mm) in an initial L. This page was painted for the Augustinian Abbey at Fiesole, under the patronage of Cosimo di Medici. Francesco was considered one of the leading illuminators in Florence in the late fifteenth century.

Giralomo dai Libri (Verona, 1500) Pentecost

Giralomo dai Libri (Verona, 1500) Pentecost (163 x 176mm) in an iitial D. This painting is related to the Ascension previously in the Lehman Collection and was executed while Giralomo was still a teenager. The Metropolitan Museum collection includes one of his larger panel paintings.