Manuscript Leaf with the Crucifixion, from a Missal

Date: ca. 1270–80

Geography: Made in Paris, France

Culture: French

Medium: Tempera and gold on parchment

Dimensions: Overall (folio): 8 3/4 x 5 7/8in. (22.2 x 14.9cm)
Mat: 19 1/4 x 14 3/16 in. (48.9 x 36.1 cm)

Classification: Manuscripts and Illuminations

Credit Line: Purchase, Bequest of Thomas W. Lamont, by exchange, 1981

Accession Number: 1981.322


An exquisite example of what Dante termed "that art which, at Paris, they call illumination," this painting on parchment was once set into a missal containing the liturgical texts for the celebration of the Mass. Here, as Jesus hangs on the cross, flanked by the Virgin Mary and Saint John, the diminutive figure of Adam rises from a sarcophagus at the foot of the cross and collects the sacrificial blood that spills from the wound in Christ's foot in a chalice of the type used in contemporary services. Two angels bearing symbols of the sun and moon emerge from clouds at each of the upper corners. The figures are dramatically isolated against alternating panels of diapered and tessellated backgrounds.