A personal music leaf, c 1550 - Initial with bee and ant


Original leaf from a scarce Renaissance manuscript processional Gradual. The opening leaf states this was a “Gradual for the Carthusian Order.”(183 x 128mm 7 ¼ x 5 1/8’’) 

France, c. 1550From the Royal Workshop of Henri II. Small highly illuminated manuscript music was very uncommon and expensive, usually reserved for royalty, the very wealthy or members of religious orders from notable families.

Eight lines in red ink with text and musical notation in black ink (on a four-line stave), on animal vellum. Headings, rubrics and ruling in red. One large illuminated initial in pink with delicate white penwork and  floral decoration with a bee – symbol of diligence and religious elequence, and an ant – symbol of wisdom and diligence on a liquid gold ground; three  illuminated initials and three illuminated paraphs in liquid gold over grounds of blue or red with gold tracery.     

The illuminated “U” begins part of Psalm 59 (King James 60):6: “Ut fugiant…” (That thy beloved may be delivered).

The illuminated “P” begins part of Psalm 16 (KJ 17) 5-7: “Perfice…” (Perfect thou my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps be not moved. O incline thy ear unto me, and hear my words. Show forth thy wonderful mercies; thou who savest them that trust in thee).

The illuminated “I” begins part of Psalm 42 (KJ 43) 4: “Introi…” (And I will go in to the altar of God to God who giveth joy to my youth).

The elaborate illuminated “E” begins: “Esto…” (Be a God of protection).

Graduals contain the musical chants for the proper of the Mass: introits, graduals, tracts, alleluia, offertory and communion verses, and sequences for special feasts. They may also include chants for the ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and for the introductory ‘asperges’ rite.

Scarce and beautiful leaf in an exceptional state of preservation.

Presented in an archival 14 x 11'' mat.

  • Inventory Number: IM-12586