Leaf from a Missal: The Crucifixion (Frontispiece for the Canon of the Mass)

Leaf from a Missal: The Crucifixion (Frontispiece for the Canon of the Mass)

c. 1440-1450

Ink, tempera, and gold on vellum

Sheet: 33.6 x 25.5 cm (13 1/4 x 10 1/16 in.); Framed: 63.5 x 48.3 cm (25 x 19 in.); Matted: 55.9 x 40.6 cm (22 x 16 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1959.254

Description

This splendid crucifixion scene originally served as the canon illustration in a liturgical missal. The open landscape is remarkable since it is not found in Dutch missals before the end of the 1500s. The large number of figures at the foot of the cross is also exceptional. The composition is thought to have been copied from a painting by Jan van Eyck, now lost. The painter of this miniature derives his name from the illuminations in the Old Testament commentary of Nicholas of Lyra, which Otto van Moerdrecht, canon of Utrecht Cathedral, gave to the nearby Carthusian monastery of Nieuwlicht in 1424. The style is found in several manuscripts traced to various towns in the North Netherlands. Recent scholarship points to a group of artists working in the same style in locations such as Guelders, Utrecht, and elsewhere, as opposed to one artist who moved from place to place.

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