Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum

Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum Facsimile Edition

Croatia / Italy — Ca. 1403

Western miniatures with details of oriental and Byzantine origin: a rare and significant masterpiece of Croatian-Glagolitic scripture

  1. An important work of long-banned Croatian Glagolitic literature, re-established in 1248 by Pope Innocent IV (ca. 1195–1254)

  2. This luxury manuscript was made for a high-ranking noble of the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom

  3. The miniatures combine both Western elements and details of oriental and Byzantine origin

Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum

The Missale Hervoiae occupies a special place in the history of the Croatian-Slavonic language. Made for a high-ranking noble of the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom, this is a luxury manuscript with 96 colorful miniatures and around 380 large ornamental initials. The Missale Hervoiae is one of the most important texts of Croatian Glagolitic literature, which had been banned for centuries, and was only to be re-established in 1248 by Pope Innocence IV. Heavily influenced by Byzantine art, its combination of eastern and western principles in terms of composition and contents has secured it a place in the regional and transregional history of art. The miniatures illustrate scenes from both the Old and the New Testaments, allegories of the months with characteristic scenes from everyday life.

Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis Croatico-Glagoliticum

Of the numerous missals written in the Croatian-Slavonic Church language of the 14th–15th century, the Missale Hervoiae deserves special mention. It represents the most beautifully and richly embellished illuminated codex of this group with precious miniatures of outstanding artistic quality. The text is written in the Church Slavonic language, with its typical angular Croat Glagolitic letters, a script still in use today in the liturgical books of the Croatian coastland on the northern Adriatic. The sumptuous manuscript was made for a high-ranking personality, namely Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic, Duke of Split and governor of the provinces of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Bosnia, which were ruled by the Croat-Hungarian King Ladislas. The value of this manuscript has likely been the reason for its turbulent destiny. Looted by the Turks, it was brought to the Sultan’s library at Constantinople. Later it was believed to be lost for a long time, until it was finally rediscovered in the Topkapı Sarayı Museum in 1963. A total of 96 colorful miniatures and around 380 large ornamental initials among numerous smaller ones make this manuscript a unique work of art. The Missale Hervoiae is not only an essential work for philological, historical, and liturgical research but also for the history of art and culture.

A Unique Testimony to Croatian Glagolitic Literature

According to an inscription contained in the book, the Missale Hervoiae was written down in Split by a resident calligrapher named Butko. He used the angular Glagolitic script whose invention has been ascribed to the two monks and Slavic apostles named Cyril and Methodius from Thessalonica. This script is based on Greek minuscule with elements borrowed from oriental alphabets and is still used today in services according to Roman use. The Missale Hervoiae is one of the most important texts of Croatian Glagolitic literature, which had been banned over centuries, and was only to be re-established in 1248 by Pope Innocence IV. Based on its contents, it constitutes a so-called complete Missal, a form unified in the 13th century by the Franciscans on which all Croatian Glagolitic manuscripts were based.

The Sumptuous Decorative Apparatus

The 96 miniatures illustrate scenes from both the Old and the New Testaments, showing not only prophets, evangelists and apostles but also several saints with their attributes. Allegories of the months are depicted in characteristic scenes and incidents of life. The miniatures contain both western elements and details of oriental and Byzantine origin. This allows us to place the codex in southern Italy, in the close artistic circle of the Anjou dynasty whose realm then also included the area of Dalmatia and with whom Duke Hrvoje was in close contact. From southern Italy, where Byzantine monks and Christians from the eastern regions had found shelter from prosecution in the 8th and 9th centuries, the Byzantine oriental compositions infiltrated western iconography and subsequently the art of the Dalmatian coastland. The initials, due to their imaginative decoration, attract the attention of the beholder. The bands, foliage and flowers forming the initials are ornate with clasps, nodes, linear motifs, zoomorphic ornament such as heads of birds, serpents and snakes, and frequently even with anthropomorphic elements. The particular value of the Missale Hervoiae lies in its combination of eastern and western principles in terms of composition and contents, thus making it a truly deluxe work and securing it a place in the regional and transregional history of art.

Codicology

Size / Format
494 pages / 30.6 × 23.0 cm
Origin
Croatia
Date
Ca. 1403
Illustrations
Nearly every page is illuminated: 96 miniatures including 3 full-page miniatures, 380 historiated initials, and numerous smaller initials
Patron
Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic, Duke of Split and governor of the provinces of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Bosnia (ca. 1350–1416)
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum – Topkapi Sarayi (Istanbul, Turkey) Facsimile Edition
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1973
Detail Picture

Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum

The Adoration of the Shepherds

This small but masterfully executed miniature condenses the events of Luke 2:1-20 in an artful and clever manner. Swaddled in a red and white blanket, the Christ Child with golden cross halo is flanked by Mary and Joseph as an angel flies out from behind the roof to announce the birth to shepherds in a field nearby. One of them appears on the right dressed in a red tunic and his animals appear lying on the ground in front of the manger or standing next to it to keep the newborn warm.

Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum
Single Page

Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum

Crucifixion

Although water damage has unfortunately obscured the face of Jesus, this full-page miniature is of excellent quality, nonetheless. Even the gold-pink-green border has been executed in a manner that makes it appear almost three-dimensional as though it were an actual wooden frame for a panel painting.

The combination of the architectural background and the positioning of the three figures accounts for the perfectly balanced spatial composition of the miniature, which was painted with an unusual color palette dominated by light shades of purple and pink contrasted by Christ’s pale grey skin and flowing red blood. The strange, enigmatic facial expressions of Mary and St. John are a combination of grimace and smile and leave a lasting impression on the beholder.

Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum
Facsimile Editions

#1 Missale Hervoiae Ducis Spalatensis croatico-glagoliticum

Binding: Leather binding according to the character of the manuscript. All the pages cut according to the original.
Commentary: 1 volume (566 pages) by V. Stefanic, B. Grabar, A. Nazor and M. Pantelic
Languages: English, German, Latin

The comprehensive scholarly commentary volume includes 550 pages as well as a complete transcription of the Missal text in Latin script, carried out by Marija Pantelić, and a critical apparatus exploring various deviating ways of reading three other complete Missal texts. In addition, there follow several treatises of different authors on the historical and liturgical structure, the illumination, the language and script used for the Missale Hervoiae, as well as a description of the transcription criteria and a valuable directory of the Gospel readings. All contributions are reproduced in German and English.
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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