Gradual of the Chapter of Udine

  • S. XIV (second half); parchment; mm 571 x 390; ff. 155
  • Udine, ‘Archivio Capitolare’, ms. 25

The set of illustrations, which repeat the same features of kaleidoscopic initials and inserts of bizarre beings and animals as in the other codices of this series, reaches here in some initials a quasi-irreverent and amused tone.

The volume contains the mass chants from the week after the 3rd Sunday in Lent to Holy Saturday. It is therefore the second volume of a Gradual currently kept at the Archives of the Chapter of Udine, which also manuscripts 29 and 23 belong to, with the remaining part of the Temporale and ms. 19 with the Sanctorale. What has been said about ms. 29 is valid for this choir book, too. The set of illustrations, which repeat the same features of kaleidoscopic initials and inserts of bizarre beings and animals as in the other codices of this series, reaches here in some initials a quasi-irreverent and amused tone. An example thereof is given by the zoomorphic initial S (Sicientes venite ad aquas) on f. XXXVr where a man is pouring water on a cleric’s head, within the initial, and it thus displays the chant about the thirsty man in a comic scene. And still, on f. LXI, a dog-headed monk is painted in the inside field of the initial C (Cum apropinquaret) while he is reading a codex where the words «non canis itur Romam, canis revertitur inde» can be seen. Waggish iconographies where clerics, monks or friars, portrayed while reading, writing or singing, have animal countenance, or where sacral gestures are either laughed at or mixed to naked figures, are also present in other series of such fourteenth-century choir books as, for instance, in the near Italian milieu of the Po valley, the choir books of the Saint of Padua (Choir books A, M) and the double series of the cathedral of Verona (Biblioteca Capitolare, ms MLIV, ms MLV, ms MLIII)

Gradual from the 3rd Sunday in Lent to Holy Saturday, introit, f. 72v

Gradual from the 3rd Sunday in Lent to Holy Saturday, introit, f. 72v

Gradual from the 3rd Sunday in Lent to Holy Saturday, introit (detail of f. XXXVr, initial S with a man pouring water on a cleric’s head)

Gradual from the 3rd Sunday in Lent to Holy Saturday, introit (detail of f. XXXVr, initial S with a man pouring water on a cleric’s head)

Gradual from the 3rd Sunday in Lent to Holy Saturday, introit (detail of f. LXIv, initial C with a dog-headed monk reading a book)

Gradual from the 3rd Sunday in Lent to Holy Saturday, introit (detail of f. LXIv, initial C with a dog-headed monk reading a book)

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