PACINO DI BONAGUIDA
(active 1302-1340 in Florence)
Laudario of the Compagnia di Sant'Agnese1320s
Tempera and gold on parchment, 438 x 322 mm
British Library, London
Dispersed today among a number of collections are nearly two dozen leaves and cuttings from a single laudario, or book of hymns to be sung in Italian by the members of a lay confraternity. This illustrated hymnal was one of the most ambitious and lavish manuscripts created in Florence in the first half of the fourteenth century. All but five of the surviving illuminations from the laudario were painted by Pacino di Bonaguida, the most prolific manuscript painter in Florence in that period. The remaining leaves are by the Master of the Dominican Effigies.
The most monumental of Pacino's illuminations for the laudario depicts the Apparition of St Michael, based on the account found in the Book of the Apocalypse. St Michael, dressed in heavenly armour and accompanied by two other archangels, plunges his lance into the devil's throat. The devil's hellish companions cluster below around his snake-like form.
The hymn of praise to St Michael, "Exultando in Gesu" (Rejoicing in Christ), is spelled out in gilt capitals across the bottom of the leaf.