Leaf from a Missal

Leaf from a Missal, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Rouen, c.1425-50]

In the style of the Master of Sir John Fastolf (fl. c.1420-60)

 £ 2,500

327 x 230mm. Text on the recto for Saturday, 3rd week of Lent, with the introit for the feast of St Susanna, two columns of 26 lines written in brown ink in two sizes of a gothic liturgical hand, ruled space: 200 x 63mm., rubrics in red, capitals touched in yellow, largest ‘U’ initial (14 x 16mm) in gold on blue and red ground with white tracery, three smaller initials in same style, three-sided left border with ornamental swirling black pen work, gold ivy leaves, red, blue and green flowers, two sets of contemporary foliation ‘lxix’ in blue within a gold cartouche in upper right-hand margin, and LXIX in blue and gold with red dotting at top, pinpricks survive. Leaf in excellent condition, with vivid colours and wide margins, some minor cockling and marginal staining, verso with remnants of adhesive along outer margin and two small smudges not affecting text.

A text leaf from what was once part of a deluxe Missal ornately illuminated for an English patron by an associate of the Fastolf Master, active in the second quarter of the 1400s. The Master of Sir John Fastolf first worked in Paris, moving to Rouen after 1420, working for English patrons. Sometime before the surrender of Rouen to the French in 1449, the Master moved to England, however, his stylistic influence continued to be felt in Rouen, mostly due to his practice of outlining forms, which made his compositions easy to reproduce.


(1) The parent manuscript was likely made for an English patron: Saint Romanus, Rouen’s patron saint, is accorded only a memorial in text to be found on another leaf from the parent volume, rather than the full mass for his feast day, suggests an English commission. The surviving miniature leaves are by a close associate of the Fastolf Master, an artist known to have worked for English patrons, including Sir William Porter, part of the English administration in Rouen during its occupation. The part-erasure of a reference to the pope on yet another leaf indicates the Missal remained in England, after the return of its owner, at least until the Reformation. The name ‘chiaves’ added in a 17th-century Italian hand on one of the leaves points to a translation to that country. 30 leaves from the parent manuscript appeared at Sotheby’s, 26 November 1985, lot 120 (8 of these were later sold at Christie’s, 24 November-3 December 2015, lots 24 and 25).

(2) Present leaf sold by Maggs in June 2019.

Most of the manuscripts that emanated from the Fastolf Master’s Rouen atelier were Hours for Rouen and other Norman uses (see also Paris, Bibl. de l’Arsenal, ms. 560, use of Coutances, where stylistic similarities can be seen): only one other Missal is known from his shop, held at Keble College, Oxford (Ms. 38), the Schoenberg database records only 15 Rouen Missals of the 15th century to have passed through public auction.