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Maker(s) &

, production, Venice, possibly
, production, Padua, possibly


Frank McClean


illuminated manuscript


gradual; type of text
Dominican use; liturgical use


circa 1325


fourteenth century, third quarter


PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Parchment, i modern parchment flyleaf + 183 fols. + i modern parchment flyleaf, 514 x 380 mm (380 x 260 mm), 7 four-line musical staves ruled in red ink and 7 text lines ruled in faint plummet, leaf lost after fol. 42.

BINDING: Fifteenth and twentieth century, the original spine cover of dark brown calf, which was all that remained from the half leather cover once glued and nailed to the wooden boards, was removed, preserved in a separate box (together with nails, tacks and three fragments from a fifteenth-century Italian Choir book used as spine lining), and replaced with half cover of new alum tawed skin nailed to the original wooden boards with brass nails by Annie Winther, who repaired the split boards and the text block, re-sewing the manuscript on its six double supports, at the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1996.

fols. 1r-69r Sanctoral from the feast of St Andrew (30 Nov.) to that of St Catherine (25 Nov.)
fols. 69r-118v Common of the Saints
fol. 118v Commemoration of the Holy Cross
fols. 118v-126r Masses of the Virgin Mary
fols. 126r-139r Ordinary of the Mass with the chants for the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei
fols. 139r-163r Sequences for the Sanctoral
fols. 163r-183v Sequences for the Masses of the Virgin Mary

Thirteen historiated initials on dark blue grounds with full or large partial borders incorporating foliage, birds and occasionally animals (e.g. apes, added later): fol. 1r Introit for St Andrew, [D, 17 ll.] Christ calling Saints Andrew and Peter from their boat on Galilee; fol. 3r Introit for St Stephen, [E, 12 ll.] Martyrdom of St Stephen; fol. 5r Introit for St John the Evangelist, [I, 29 ll.] St John standing under a canopy holding a book; fol. 14v Introit for the Purification, [S, 12 ll.] Presentation in the Temple; fol. 20r Introit for the Annunciation, [R, 12 ll.] Annunciation; fol. 38v Introit for the Nativity of St John the Baptist, [D, 12 ll.] St Elizabeth holding the child John, Zacharias writing down his name; fol. 48r Introit for St Dominic, [I, 42 ll.] St Dominic standing and holding a book with a Dominican kneeling below him; fol. 54r Introit for the Assumption, [G, 12 ll.] Death of the Virgin with Christ receiving her soul; fol. 57r Introit for the Nativity of the Virgin, [G, 12 ll.] Birth of the Virgin; fol. 60r Introit for St Michael, [B, 12 ll.] St Michael trampling on the dragon; fol. 64r Introit for All Saints, [G, 12 ll.] Christ enthroned, blessing and flanked by standing saints; fol. 64v Introit for All Souls, [R, 12 ll.] Priest, accompanied by three Dominicans performing the Last Rites; fol. 69v Introit for the Common of Apostles, [M, 12 ll.] Saints Peter and Paul standing with two other apostles; fol. 124v Introit for the Mass of the Virgin, [S, 12 ll.] Bust of the Virgin and Child with two Dominicans below standing beside a lectern with a choir book.

ORNAMENTATION: Fully illuminated initials [6-8 ll.] with foliage infill in orange, pink, grey, yellow and grey-purple set on a dark blue ground with white rinceaux; alternate red and blue initials [3-7 ll.] with elaborate blue or red pen-flourished infill and surrounds.


illumination; whole


parchment; support
gold; medium




bequeathed; 1904; McClean, Frank


McClean, Frank; previous owner


The Dominican origin of this Gradual is clear from its text and illustration. The Sanctoral contains St Peter Martyr (29 April) and St Dominic (5 Aug.). The Dominican saints and feasts established after the manuscript was made, namely St Vincent Ferrer (5 April), St Agnes of Montepulciano (20 April), St Catherine of Siena (2 May), and the Translation of St Dominic (24 May), have been added in the margins by later hands, that of the Translation of St Dominic in a hand near contemporary with the original manuscript. The absence of St Thomas Aquinas (7 March) may suggest that the Gradual was written before his canonisation in 1323, although there is often a delay of a few years before a new feast gets included in texts, so the c.1325 date proposed here is possible. There are two campaigns of decoration. The first one of c.1325 comprises the historiated initials with their small acanthus foliage extensions. The second, of c. 1375-1400, carefully integrated with the original decoration, consists of the elaborate full or large partial borders of acanthus foliage, some of which are populated by birds. The heavily modelled faces in the historiated initials of the c.1325 campaign suggest that the manuscript may have been made in Venice. The figure style and the ornament of the initial stems and frames are close to the very fragmentary Antiphoners of San Marco, one perhaps datable to 1318 (Venice, Archivio di Stato Proc. de supra, s. Chiesa, MSS Reg. 113 and Reg. 116; Mariani Canova 1992, 396, 403, fig. 528; Venice 1995, 122-4, nos. 27, 30, figs. 74, 75). Parallels can also be found in Paduan Antiphoners of the first quarter of the fourteenth century (e.g. Padua, Biblioteca Capitolare, MSS A. 15, A.16, B.16 (Padua and Rovigo 1999, 91-3, nos. 20-22), but the ornament lacks the characteristic gold balls used by the Paduan illuminators. The elaborate foliage borders which were added to the book in the last quarter of the fourteenth century are difficult to parallel. In the last third of the century, probably inspired by the foliage borders of Nicolò di Giacomo di Nascimbene of Bologna (e.g. a Gradual, Padua, Biblioteca Antoniana, MS VII; Padua and Rovigo 1999, 133-4, no. 43; and Imola, Museo Diocesano, Graduale 1; Faranda 1994, pls. XXIX, XXXII), centres in the Veneto developed the foliage decoration of the borders, as seen in a Missal (Venice, Museo Civico Correr, MS V, 1951; Pallucchini 1964, 219, fig. 693), although its leaf types are not exactly the same as in the Dominican Gradual. A leaf containing the feast of Saints Peter and Paul has been excised between fol. 42 and fol. 43.


secundo folio; in die officium lxxii


James, Montague Rhodes, Dr. 1912. A descriptive catalogue of the McClean Collection of Manuscripts in the Fitzwilliam Museum.Cambridge (Cambs.): Cambridge University Pressp. 109-11

Frere, W. H.. 1894 - 1932. Bibliotheca Musico-Liturgica: A Descriptive Hand List of the Musical and Latin-liturgical MSS. Preserved in the Libraries of Great Britain and Ireland..London:
II, 163, no. 1005


Object Number: MS McClean 56
(Manuscripts and Printed Books)
(record id: 182110; input: 2011-03-22; modified: 2012-08-28)


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