'Missing' Renaissance manuscript acquired for Rylands

  • 9 August 2011

A volume from the famous Colonna Missal, a magnificent service-book made for the Sistine Chapel in Rome has been added to the University of Manchester's John Rylands University Library.

Pages from the Colonna Missal, John Rylands University Library

Pages from the Colonna Missal, John Rylands University Library

The Art Fund has helped the University of Manchester’s John Rylands University Library acquire the ‘missing’ seventh volume of a celebrated Renaissance manuscript.

The volume is part of the famous Colonna Missal, a magnificent service-book made for use in the Sistine Chapel in Rome and one of the most important religious manuscripts of the sixteenth century. It now joins the six other volumes that have been housed at the John Rylands Library since 1901.

Some of the decoration of the beautifully produced volume dates from exactly the same time as Michelangelo’s fresco of the Last Judgment over the High Altar. It was commissioned by Cardinal Pompeo di Girolamo Colonna for use in some of the most important masses of the year in the Sistine Chapel, Rome.

Jan Wilkinson, University Librarian and Director of the John Rylands Library, said, 'We are delighted to have secured the missing volume of the Colonna Missal. This is the Library’s most important single-volume acquisition in the last forty years. We could not pass over this opportunity of reuniting all seven surviving volumes of the Missal, which have been separated since at least 1868.'

The precious item fetched a total of £188,750 at Christie’s in early July. The Art Fund was joined by the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Friends of the John Rylands, the B.H. Breslauer Foundation, and the Friends of the National Libraries to help acquire the volume.

Read more about the Colonna Missal