Queens’ MS 77b–d
Queens' MS 77b. Dagnus, King of Lycia, ordering the martyrdom of St Christopher: In the border, St Christopher carries the Christ Child across the water. His staff, planted at Christ’s order, has sprouted leaves and flowers ‘like a palm tree’, as described in the Golden Legend.
Queens’ MS 77b is one of three leaves from the Laudario of Sant’Agnese containing miniatures by Pacino di Bonaguida (active c. 1303–c.1347), In Italian, Florence, c. 1340
As the product of early Renaissance Italy these leaves are quite distinct from all else in the present exhibition. They originate from a remarkably richly decorated volume (called a Laudario) containing hymns of praise that had been made in around 1340 for the Compagnia di Sant’ Agnese at the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence. Now recognised as having been amongst the most opulent Florentine manuscripts of the fourteenth century, the volume’s artwork constituted one of the last great projects of the influential Florentine artist, Pacino di Bonaguida.
Prized for its artwork more than its musical contents, the Laudario of Sant’Agnese suffered a fate similar to many comparable volumes of the period. Following Napoleonic looting, it was dissected before being auctioned off piecemeal in London in 1838. Over the past century scholars have sought to find and identify its fragments scattered in collections around the world. The most recent re-discovery has been the three leaves in Queens’, identified by Stella Panayotova as being by Pacino from the Laudario of Sant’Agnese in 2007. This brings the total number of known leaves to twenty-eight (three of which are in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge). Although we do not know the identity of their donor, documentary evidence indicates that the Queens’ Pacino miniatures had been received by the college by 1955.