GHERARDUCCI, Don Silvestro dei
(b. 1339, Firenze, d. 1399, Firenze)

Gradual 1 for San Michele a Murano (Folio 46)

c. 1395
Tempera and gold on parchment, 580 x 400 mm
The Morgan Library and Museum, New York

According to Vasari, in the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence there were twenty choir books written by a certain Don Jacopo and illustrated by Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci. He also points out that several other choir books by the same masters were in the library in the monastery of San Michele of the same order in Murano. Single illuminated pages representing a number of scenes from a large gradual by Don Silvestro have survived in various museums. Together with several other stylistically consistent historiated pages and with a considerable number of cut initials scattered in various museums, they formed the major portion of the illuminated decoration of two large graduals for San Michele a Murano. Fifty-one full pages and initials have been discovered so far that can now be firmly associated with the two San Michele a Murano graduals, Gradual 1 (The First Sunday of Advent to Passion Week) and Gradual 2 (Easter to the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost).

The initial E encloses the Adoration of the Magi. The horizontal bar of the initial E divides the protagonists from the background where a knight is about to tame a nervous camel appearing behind the hill. The Three Magi, characterising the three ages of man, have knelt down in reverence to the newborn King. The narration of the Epiphany extends from the initial into the border decoration of the lower margin where we see the Journey of the Three Magi and their suite.

The initial E begins the introit to the Mass for the feast of Epiphany (January 6).