Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Art History

Major Professor

David Wright, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nicole Guenther Discenza, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul Schneider, Ph.D.


Venice, Missal, Printing, Medieval, Renaissance


A missal is the liturgical book containing the prayers and readings for the celebration of the Mass. Originally designed in large folio format, the simultaneous arrival of the printing press amidst a shift in the celebration of Mass from a communal to a private sphere resulted in the proliferation of the small and more portable octavo-size missal. Missals traditionally contained minimal illustrations prior to printing, resulting in their strict classification as a liturgical object. This thesis questions the previous established boundaries which categorize medieval objects as related to a particular type of religious activity. In other words, missals have been categorized based on content rather than function. This study will challenge the existing strict nomenclature applied to medieval art objects as either liturgical or 'devotional.'

After missals began to be printed in the early Renaissance, the first example to contain extensive images was Lucantonio Giuntas Missale romanum published in 1501 in Venice. By his October 1508 edition Giunta included a total of twenty full-page woodblock images to form a coherent iconographic program throughout the text. This thesis asserts that his 1508 Missale romanum exhibits the same characteristics as Books of Hours, popular devotional prayer books. In particular, Giuntas image formula mirrors his widely successful Book of Hours publication, the Officium beatae Mariae Virginis, of 1501, by providing a model for devotion, indicating a shift in the relationship between text and image in early printed missals.

This study seeks to refine our knowledge of late medieval liturgical and devotional art, the effect of printing on the design decisions regarding liturgical books, and of the significance of reusing images from a devotional text in a liturgical one. While the focus of this inquiry remains on the 1508 romanum, comparisons will be made with three other Giuntine publications: his earlier 1501 romanum, his 1507 Missale congregatio casinensis, and his 1501 Officium. These texts, along with other contemporary Venetian printed missals, illustrate my position that the woodblock images in the 1508 edition embody the accompanying text by providing meditational themes, while their stylistic characteristics encourage private devotion. Whereas the text of a missal serves a liturgical function, the accompanying images do not fit so easily in the same classification, resulting in a new application of the 'para-' or 'quasi-liturgical' art object.