Thursday, March 19th, 2015...10:30 am

The Master of the Harvard Hannibal

Jump to Comments

The Master of the Harvard Hannibal was given his name by the art historian Millard Meiss after the artist’s work on the large frontispiece miniature depicting the “Coronation of Hannibal” in volume II of Houghton Library’s MS Richardson 32. The artist trained in Paris in the circle of the Boucicaut Master in the first two decades of the fifteenth century and it is thought that the Master later moved to Rouen and set up his own workshop. His work demonstrates a fondness for pure, bright colors, rich pattern and decorative accessories, such as elaborate headgear.

Saint Anne and the Virgin Mary illuminated leaf : manuscript, circa 1430. Tarleton book of hours. MS Lat 450

Two recent acquisitions, acquired at auction in London in December of last year, are examples of the work of the Master of the Harvard Hannibal on religious rather than secular subjects. MS Lat 450 depicts St. Anne teaching the Virgin Mary to read for the Suffrage of St. Anne. MS Lat 451 depicts Christ before Pontius Pilate for the beginning of Lauds in the Hours of the Virgin. Both leaves are from the Tarleton Hours which is for the Use of Sarum and was probably made in Rouen during the English occupation at the end of the Hundred Years’ War.

Christ before Pilate illuminated leaf : manuscript, circa 1430. Tarleton book of hours. MS Lat 451

The Tarleton Hours was severely trimmed along the upper edge in an early rebinding, but was intact when it first appeared on the market in July 1951 and originally included 35 miniatures; it was subsequently broken up. The acquisition of these two leaves from the Tarleton Hours not only gives students an opportunity to examine at first hand the full range of the Master of the Harvard Hannibal’s work, but also provides a basis for the experimental digital reconstruction of the manuscript, a topic of considerable current scholarly interest.

This post was contributed by William P. Stoneman, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts.

Comments are closed.