Artibus et Historiae no. 81 (XLI)

2020, ISSN 0391-9064

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HELENA KATALIN SZÉPE and FEDERICA TONIOLO - Celebrating Athanasius in Venice. Illuminated Manuscripts for the Nuns of Santa Croce alla Giudecca (pp. 25–48)

A newly discovered two-volume breviary in the Library of the Correr Museum, Venice, appears to have been illuminated c. 1485–1495 for the female Benedictine monastery of Santa Croce alla Giudecca. The breviary is an important addition to the corpus of Venetian illuminated manuscripts, but is also among very few surviving testimonies of the art and religious culture of the Santa Croce nunnery before the church was completely rebuilt in 1508–1511. The breviary was painted initially by two artists, one named here as the Master of the Correr Santa Croce Breviary, while the other was the well-known and prolific Master of the Pico Pliny. A later hand, perhaps that of a nun, illuminated some of the initials. An inscription within the breviary definitively confirms that the Santa Croce convent was associated with the reformed Congregation of Santa Giustina in Padua. The breviary features unique liturgy and imagery celebrating Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, a Greek Church Father whose presumed body was donated to the nuns in 1455. The miniatures also highlight the cult of treasured relics of the Holy Cross at Santa Croce.

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