Beaupré Antiphonary Fragments


The three fragments presented here were illuminated in Hainaut around 1280 and completed in 1290, and were originally part of a collection of richly decorated Cistercian manuscripts that is a rare example of those being produced in Flanders at the end of the 13th century. Known as the Beaupré Antiphonary, the manuscripts consisted of two sets, each of three volumes, produced for the abbess’s side and the prioress’s side of the choir at the Cistercian abbey of Sainte-Marie at Beaupré (diocese of Cambrai, in French Flanders). In 1850‒53 these works were taken to England by the art critic and scholar John Ruskin (1819‒1900), who excised some pages and sent an unmatched set to be auctioned. Those manuscripts regrettably were lost in June 1865 during a fire that spread to Sotheby and Wilkinson in London. The fragments here from the Beaupré Antiphonary were salvaged from that fire. They include an illuminated initial “S,” an illuminated “h” with a Cistercian nun and another figure at prayer beside a saint, and an initial “O.” Six other fragments are known to exist in other collections: two leaves at the Victoria and Albert Museum; two in Brussels at the Bibliothèque Royale Albert I; one in Bordeaux in the Trésor de la Cathédrale Saint-André; and one in Nuremberg at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Graphische Sammlung.

Last updated: October 24, 2017