Bifolium with the Decretals of Gratian

Artist: Style of Master Honore

Date: ca. 1290

Geography: Made in Paris, France

Culture: French

Medium: Tempera and gold on parchment, brown ink; modern leather binding

Dimensions: Overall: 19 x 11 1/2 x 1/2in. (48.3 x 29.2 x 1.3cm)
open: 18 9/16in. (47.2cm)

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Gift of John Feldman, 1990

Accession Number: 1990.217


A manual of medieval canon law, the Decretals of Gratian was compiled by a monk who taught at Bologna in the mid-twelfth century. This page from a thirteenth-century Parisian manuscript of the Decretals shows a gloss, or commentary, written by Bartolomeo of Brescia, framing Gratian's text. The miniature painting signals the beginning of chapter 19, which discusses two clerics' request from their bishop to transfer to a monastery. The bishop's prerogative is manifest in the miniature: mitered and enthroned, he holds a crosier and a document with a seal, as he gestures toward the two kneeling clerics, who appear to petition him with raised hands.