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Flagellation of Christ, late 15th century

Fra Antonio da Monza

Italian, active 1480-1505
Tempera on vellum; Miniature painting from an antiphonary
17-1/2 x 13-1/2 in. (44.5 x 34.3 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1965.1.101.P
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

This scene of the Flagellation of Christ is used here to illustrate one of the moments during the Passion of Christ, those final hours in the life of Jesus, before his Crucifixion. The border of this leaf has been cut down on the right and at the bottom, obliterating some of the musical notation and words of the chant from the beginning of Psalm 42 from this choir book:

“Judica me Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me.”
(Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against the ungodly people; deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.)

It was originally part of a larger choir book, perhaps as tall as two feet high, its oversize format accommodating a group of several choristers. This particular chant was generally sung at the Introit of the Catholic Mass, when the priest and servers enter and stand at the foot of the altar at the beginning of the service. The words at the top of the sheet announced “Dominica de passionis…Ad Missam Introitus” (“Passion Sunday…at the Beginning of the Mass”), indicating that it was the first page of the Proper of the Mass for Passion Sunday, or Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. In style, the miniature is similar to the work of the Lombard Antonio da Monza, a Franciscan friar who is one of the most important painters of miniatures and illuminated manuscripts of the fifteenth century. Another possible attribution may be to the anonymous Master B.F., a Milanese painter and illuminator who was greatly influenced by the work of Leonardo da Vinci and Bernardino Luini. Some art historians have speculated that this latter artist may be associated with the artist Francesco Binasco, who was working in Milan for the Dukes of Sforza in the early 1500s.

This leaf was one of several illuminated manuscripts that came from the Parisian Rodolph Kann collection, which Joseph Duveen purchased en bloc in 1907. The leaf, along with others, was sold by Duveen to Arabella Huntington, then was returned to Duveen Brothers by her son Archer after her death. Two other illuminated initials, presumably from the same antiphonal, were donated by Mr. Simon to the Elmer Belt Library of Vinciana at UCLA in 1965.

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