Art/ Collection/ Art Object

All Saints in an Initial E or O

Osservanza Master (Italian, Siena, active second quarter 15th century)
ca. 1430–40
Italian, Siena
Tempera and gold on parchment
6 11/16 x 5 1/2 in. (17 x 14cm)
Manuscripts and Illuminations
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 1975.1.2484
Accession Number:
Not on view
This cutting may have been part of a lost set of choirbooks decorated by the Osservanza Master for the Church of Sant'Agostino in Siena. The initial E, excised from an antiphonary, introduces one of the responses for the Feast of All Saints (November 1): "Exultent justi in conspectu Dei" (Let the just exult before God). Inside the initial, painted to resemble an architectural interior, is the Virgin in prayer, surrounded by Saints. Standing next to her in the foreground are Saint Augustine on the left, and Saint Paul on the right. Partly visible behind them are the heads and gold haloes of numerous other saints.
The close stylistic affinities between works attributed to the enigmatic Osservanza Master and another Sienese master, Sano di Pietro, may indicate that they represent a single artistic identity. It is also possible that the works attributed to the Osservanza Master are the product of a collaborative workshop to which these artists belonged.
Inscription: Verso: three 4-line staves (the lines in red, the notes and text black, stave height approximately 33 mm) with two lines of fragmentary text: "m pret[er]ita p[re] / ala pellite:"

Marking: Annotated in pencil on the verso: 18 (circled) and 12311
[Maggs Brothers, Paris] Acquired by Robert Lehman from Maggs in summer 1929.
Sandra Hindman, Chicago, Mirella Levi D'Ancona, Pia Palladino, and Maria Francesca Saffiotti. "Illuminations." Robert Lehman Collection. IV, New York, 1997.

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