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Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Piccolomini breviary
Italy, Lombardy, ca. 1475
MS M.799 fol. 234v

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Allegory: Ship of Church -- In crow’s nest surmounting mast, pelican, nimbed, surrounded by five chicks, pierces breast (Bird: Pelican in her Piety). With sail as background, Christ, crossed nimbus, head inclined, eyes closed, bleeding from wound in side, wearing loin cloth, is affixed with three nails to mast and yard as crucifix. God, nimbed, stands in stern holding rudder with both hands. Dove, wings lifted, is in prow of ship. Midships, is large group of nimbed men and women, including monk, bishop, abbot, and cardinal. In foreground, six apostles (?) man oars.
Ship is flanked above by cresent moon and personification of sun, and by four Evangelist symbols, nimbed, including lion (Mark) and ox (Luke) each holding book with front paws or hooves, ox winged; angel (Matthew) holding book; eagle (John) perching on book.
Below the ship, at left, group of clerics, including Augustinian (?), and two men wearing hats, foremost holding open book with right hand and indicating ship with left hand. At right, soldiers, several holding spears, one aiming crossbow at ship, one holding shield decorated with heraldry of Ferdinand I of Aragon, king of Naples.
In upper margin, medallion enclosing Virgin Mary, nimbed, holding with right arm, nude Christ Child, crossed nimbus, flanked by two putti grasping foliate garlands.
In left margin, medallions enclosing bishop or abbot, nimbed, wearing miter, with hood of habit visible above cope, holding book with left hand; prophet (?) wearing hat, holding scroll with both hands; Augustinian nun nimbed, with joined hands; prophet (?) wearing hat, next to scroll; profile view of Augustinian monk, nimbed and tonsured with joined hands raised. Medallions amid or enclosed by foliate ornament.
In right margin, medallions enclosing possibly Augustinian nun, veiled, or monk, wearing hood, nimbed, holding book; Augustian nun, possibly with joined hands; back-turned Augustinian monk, nimbed and tonsured, looking upward. Pearls and gemstones among the medallions.
Miniature precedes sanctorale of Breviary beginning with 11.29, feast of Saturninus of Toulouse.

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