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Life of Christ


Master of Beatrijs van Assendelf’s Leven van Jesus; artist
; production


Viscount Fitzwilliam


illuminated manuscript


other; type of text


circa 1470 circa 1480


fifteenth century, second half


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, iiii + 195 fols. (medieval foliation in red above intercolumnium on recto’s , starting on current fol. 4r, only counting written leaves), 268 x 190 (171 x 115) mm, 2 columns, 30 lines, ruled in black ink

BINDING: fifteenth century, stamped leather over boards (stamps include Agnus Dei motif; reference to Agnes convent in Delft?), clasps.

CONTENTS: fols. 2r – 2v Index; fols. 4r – 4v Prologue; fols. 5r – 192v Pseudo-Bonaventura-Ludolfiaanse Leven van Jesus.

DECORATION: Thirty full-page miniatures in arched frames with architectural canopies and full floral borders including saints, angels, animals, and birds on plain parchment grounds, at major text divisions: fol. 3v Christ blessing, holding open book, standing on orb on a rock in front of a city, St Gertrude with mouse in border; fol. 13v Mercy, Peace, Truth and Justice kneeling before God enthroned, St Martha with asperge and devil in border; fol. 18v Annunciation, St Apollonia holding pincers with tooth in border; fol. 23v Visitation, St Agnes with ring and lamb in border; fol. 30v Nativity, Annunciation to the shepherds in background, St Agatha holding pincers with bleeding breast in border; fol. 36v Circumcision, St Clare holding monstrance and book in border; fol. 38v Adoration of the Magi, St Christine holding arrow in border; fol. 42v Presentation in the Temple, St Bridget of Kildare with pot and ox in border; fol. 50v Christ among the Doctors, St Elizabeth of Hungary as nun holding double crown and book in border; fol. 57v Baptism, Virgin and Child in border; fol. 62v Temptation, St Cunera with scarf holding palm and book in border; fol. 72v Sermon on the Mount, St Bernard with book and crosier in border; fol. 77v Christ and the woman of Samaria, St Quirinus in black armour in border; fol. 95v Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah, St Eligius with hammer and anvil in border; fol. 106v Entry into Jerusalem, St Dorothy with basket of flowers and palm in border; fol. 116v Last Supper, St George with red cross on shield and dragon in border; fol. 119v Christ washing St Peter’s feet, St Cecilia with palm and falcon in border; fol. 128v Agony in the Garden, St Anthony with bell and pig in border; fol. 134v Betrayal, St Mary Magdalene holding jar of ointment in border; fol. 138v Christ before Caiaphas, St Peter with tiara and keys in border; fol. 141v Flagellation, St Sebastian with bow and arrows in border; fol. 144v Christ crowned with thorns, St Wilgefortis bearded with crown and Tau-cross in border; fol. 147v Carrying of the Cross, St Andrew with saltire cross in border; fol. 150v Nailing to the Cross, St James the Great with escallop-topped staff and pilgrim’s hat in border; fol. 156v Crucifixion with Virgin, bearded St John, and angels receive blood in chalices, St Paul with book and sword in border; fol. 159v Deposition, St James the Less carrying a book in chemise binding in border; fol. 161v Entombment, St Thomas with carpenter’s square in border; fol. 169v Resurrection, St Jerome with lion in border; fol. 181v Ascension, St Francis in border; fol. 187v Pentecost, St Bartholomew with book and knife in border.

ORNAMENTATION: Gold and blue or red and blue parted initials [9 ll.] with reserved ornament, pen-flourished infill and frame in the same colours, pink side bar borders terminating in stylized foliage, and full red and blue pen-flourished borders including animals, birds, and half-length figures holding scrolls inscribed in Dutch, including St Veronica with the Vernicle (fol. 78r), lamb bleeding into chalice (fol. 117r), St Christopher (fol. 120r), St Giles (fol. 129r), St Peter holding key and a handkerchief to his eyes (fol. 142r), St James the Great with escallop-topped staff and pilgrim’s hat (fol. 145r), Dominic (fol. 148r), St John with cup (fol. 151r), Pelican in her piety (fol. 157r), Pieta (fol. 160r), at major text divisions; blue penwork initals [3 – 6 ll.] with reserved ornament and red and blue pen-flourished infill and extensions forming partial borders at lesser text divisions; alternate blue and red one-line initials in Table of Contents; alternating red and blue paragraph signs; capitals highlighted in red.

Place (legacy):

Northern Netherlands, production, region
Delft, place




parchment; support
gold; medium


height, page, 268, mm
width, page, 190, mm
height, text, 171, mm
width, text, 115, mm


bequeathed; ; Fitzwilliam, Richard, 7th Viscount


made for Beatrijs van Assendelf, a nun in The Hague, and later donated by her to the convent of regular canonesses of Ter Zijl in Haarlem which she entered in 1485 (ownership inscriptions, fols. i recto, 1v, 195v); ‘Marytghen Jans onse moeye’, prioress of the Haarlem convent who bequeathed it to her house in 1635 (ownership inscription, fol. i recto); Richard, seventh viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion (1745 – 1816), acquired in 1813; his bequest, 1816.


Fitzwilliam, Richard, 7th Viscount; previous owner
Convent of regular canonesses of Ter Zijl in Haarlem; previous owner
Assendelf, Beatrijs van; original owner


secundo folio; fol. 5r; Soe als sinte Pauwelus



, The Fitzwilliam Museum1988. The Dutch Connection: The Founding of the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): The Fitzwilliam Museum
cat no. 85

James, Montague Rhodes, Dr. 1895. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Pressp. 60 - 5

Byvanck, A. W.. Hoogewerff, G. J.. 1922 - 1926. La miniature hollandaise dans les manuscrits des 14e, 15e et 16e siècles.The Hague:
p. 56, no. 128, pls. 133 – 35, figs. 92 – 3

Byvanck, A. W.. 1937. La miniature dans les Pays-Bas Septentrionaux.Colmar, Paris:
pp 102, 127, fig. 132

Byvanck, A. W.. 1943. De Middeleeuwse Boekillustratie in de Noordelijke Nederlanden.Antwerp:
pp 70 – 71, fig. 62

Hoogewerff, G. J.. 1936 - 37. De Noord-Nederlandsche shilderkunst.The Hague:
pp 338 – 39, figs. 163 – 64

Priebsch, R.. 1896 - 1901. Deutsche Handschriften in England.Erlangen:
Vol I, pp 34 - 6

de Vreese, W.. 1931. De eerste Bliscap van Maria.
xxvii – xxix, 171, frontispiece

de Bruin, C. C.. 1980. Leven ons Heren Ihesu Christi. Het Pseudo-Bonaventura-Ludolfiaanse Leven van Jesus.Leiden: p. xix

Biemans, J. A. A. M.. 1984. Middelnederlandse Bijbelhandschriften.Leiden:
pp 297 – 303 (cited as MS 6 G 8)

Pächt, O.. Thoss, D.. 1990. Flämische Schule. Die illuminierten Handschriften und Inkunabeln der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek 7.Vienna:
p. 111, fig. 119

Wormald, Francis. Giles, Phyllis M.. 1966. Illuminated Manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum: An Exhibition to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Death of the Founder, Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion.Cambridge (Cambs.):
cat no. 115

Binski, P.. Panayotova, Stella. 2005. The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries of Book Production in the Medieval West.London:
cat no. 93

1989. The Golden Age of Dutch Manuscript Painting.Stuttgart:
pp 196, 204, 274

Morgan, Nigel. Panayotova, Stella. 2009. A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges. Part One. Vol. 1: The Frankish Kingdoms, Northern Netherlands, Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Austria; Vol. II: The Meuse Region, Southern Netherlands.London: Harvey Miller/Brepols
cat. no. 33

Byvanck, A. W.. 1923. Noord-Nederlandsche Miniaturen. 5 Een Schilderschool te Delft.
Source Title: Oudheidkundig Jaarboek 3(1923) : 188 - 201
p. 200

Pächt, O.. Bjurstrom, P.. Hökby, N.. Mutherich, F.. 1987. Der Salvator Mundi des Turiner Stundenbuches.Stockholm:
Source Title: Florilegium in honorem Carl Nordenfalk octogenarii contextum()

pp 187 – 88, fig. 8

Wüstefeld, W. C. M.. 1992. Delftse Handschriftenproduktie en de Boeken van de Familie Van Assendelft.
Source Title: Delfia Batavorum Jaarboek()
p. 9, 28 – 31

Meuwese, M.. den Hollander, A.. Kwakkel, E.. Scheepsma, W.. 2007. Verluchting in bijbelhandschriften: Bijbelvoorstellingen in een middeleeuws jasje.Hilversum:
Source Title: Middelnederlandse bijbelvertalingen()
p. 25 - 35


Object Number: MS 25
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 169653; input: 2009-11-10; modified: 2019-01-09)


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