Leaf from a Liber Benefactorum, most probably from Sint Janskerk, Mechelen, in Latin, illuminated manuscript on parchment [Flanders (most probably Mechelen), dated 1537]
Single leaf, with single column of 25 lines (containing 3 entries) in a fine late lettre bâtarde, capitals in split bars of same, some underlining in red, original folio no. "xxiiii", directions for offices and opening line "Nativitas sancti iohannis baptiste triplex" in bright red, note of month "Junius" at head in split bands of same, one historiated initial 'G' in gilt acanthus leaves showing John the Baptist holding a lamb in a grassy landscape with trees in background, all on green grounds in two shades and framed in thin liquid gold frame, the lower darker green panel flecked with liquid gold dots (cf. the initial in a Book of Hours made for Emperor Charles V in Brussels or Mechelen after 1547 by the Master of Morgan M.696: reproduced in Illuminating the Renaissance, 2003, fig. 167b on p. 500), coat-of-arms at foot held by a large brown bird within a green floral wreath with pink ribbons and gold baubles at its edges, one large blue banderole either side of arms, with inscription in liquid gold capitals in Flemish: "D D PINGOIN / LEEV" (the second part for 'leuw', lion; the use of Flemish common for personal mottos in books produced for guilds, other professional institutions, and books of ecclesiastical benefactors), verso blank, slight cockling, small spots, flaking from parts of surround of arms, else good condition, 385 by 270mm.
This leaf is perhaps all that survives of a lost and apparently dispersed de luxe record of the benefactors of a Flemish church. Such records, as well as those of professional institutions, reached particularly splendid heights of book decoration in Flanders in the sixteenth century (see other examples in the Oath Book of the Antwerp De Goudbloem chamber, now Antwerp, Koninkliijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten, Archief, inv.O.A.272(5), catalogued in M. Smeyers and J. Van der Stock, Flemish Illuminated Manuscripts , 1996, no. 35; and the Privilege Book of the Brussels Den Boeck chamber, now Bib. Royale, MS. 21377, ibid. no. 36). The entries here include a record of the gifts of Judocus van der Berckt, a lawyer who served the "magno consilio" (i.e. the great council of Mechelen, the highest legal court in the Low Countries), who is recorded elsewhere as buried in the archives of the Cathedral of Sint Rombout there, as among that institution's founders (see Provincie, stad, ende district van Mechelen opgeheldert in haere kercken , 1770, I: 73; died in 1568), as well as that of Judocus Vrancx, who is recorded in the same records as buried in Sint Janskerk in the same city (ibid. p. 337). Here their bequests are recorded as having happened in 1536 and 1501, and it is added that Judocus Vrancx served as priest of the community in question. The third entry names a Johannes Olmerus who made a donation in 1534. The wealth of the men who sat on the great council of Mechelen ensured that the Sint Janskerk was an opulently decorated church, including a baroque triptych over the altar commissioned from Reubens in 1619.