Otto Ege Dominican monastic Missal leaf, Perugia, 1353


Otto Ege provenance, superb illuminations


Verso: 26 lines of text in Latin written in dark brown ink in two columns on vellum.  A fine, rounded gothic script, rubrics in red.  One six-line initial ‘F’ with an extension of a further two lines.  The initial is in bright orange in the bowl of which is blue decoration on a ground of very pale orange surrounded with an outline in pale beige.  The terminals and extension of the initial are of foliate designs in brown, blue and bright orange.  The whole initial is on a ground of blue, has superb white tracery and is surrounded by a border in beige outlined in black.  There are two small areas of burnished gold. 

Two three-line initials and one two-line initial alternating in red with intricate blue penwork and blue with red penwork.  The penwork extends into the margins with playful flourishes.    


Recto:  As Verso with a further two two-line initials with extensive penwork


Source:   Perugia , Italy


Date: 1353


Content:  The text begins in the Gospel of the Mass for Thursday in the Third Week in Lent and continues into the Mass for the Friday in the Third Week in Lent ending in the Lesson from the Book of Numbers.

The large illuminated ‘F’ on Verso begins Psalm 85:17:  Fac mecum signum in bono et videant qui oderunt me et confundantur quoniam tu Domine adiuvasti me et consolatus es me.

(Show me a sign for good: that they who hate me may see, and be confounded, because thou, O Lord, hast helped me and hast comforted me.)


Condition:  Apart from surface edge browning and some cockling, the leaf is in very good/excellent condition.  The illuminations show no loss of colour or detail.  The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine.


Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 290x215mm. Text area : approx.  210x150 mm.  Free postage worldwide.


Provenance: The parent book of this leaf is certainly from Perugia and dated 1353. It is from a Dominican Monastery, was broken by Otto Ege, and most of its remaining leaves were sold at Sotheby's Ege Residue Sale 26 Nov 1985, lot 66.

In the book on Ege by Scott Gwara, it is #122.


Notes: This is a superb leaf with decoration of the highest quality. It must be from a book that was produced at great expense as this level of decoration is not often found in a Missal. The attribution to the leaf’s parent book being a Monastic Missal is based on the opinion of a scholar who cites the text of the SecretEfficiatur haec hostia” and the PostcommunionSacramenti tui domine” as being for the Use of Western Monasteries.


Otto Ege was a scholar and educator whose passion was to make manuscripts and early printed books accessible to non-scholars and scholars alike.


Born in 1888, he was a longtime professor of graphic design and the history of the book, and later a dean, at the Cleveland Institute of Art. As a young man, he began collecting manuscripts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Over the course of his career, he broke apart hundreds of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and early printed books, selling off the pages, or leaves. He would often sell combinations of leaves from different manuscripts as sets. 


He defended his practice of unbinding books in “I am a Biblioclast,” an essay published in the March, 1938 issue of Avocations, a hobby and leisure magazine.


“Surely to allow a thousand people ‘to have and to hold’ an original manuscript leaf, and to get the thrill and understanding that comes only from actual and frequent contact with these art heritages, is justification enough for the scattering of fragments,” he wrote. “Few, indeed, can hope to own a complete manuscript book; hundreds, however, may own a leaf.”


Item No:  MMI022

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