Gregorian Chant 1490-1500 - Puzzle Initial - Spain


Original leaf from a manuscript Spanish Antiphonal on animal parchment.  (495 x 365mm – 19 ½ x 14 3/8’’) 

The manuscript text and music ( lines of music on a five-line stave) were beautifully executed by hand over 500 years ago in the 15th century!!!  Spain, c. 1490-1500.

One exceptional illuminated initial (85x85mm – 3 3/8 x 3 3/8’’) in red and blue with an elaborate internal and external geometric "puzzle design" (in the Moorish influenced Mudejar style) in intricate red and violet penwork and extending beyond the initial into the margin in violet; two elaborate knot-work (cadel) initials heightened with yellow; one illuminated initial in red with violet penwork.

“A pen with a long slit - half or three-quarters of an inch - was used for drawing these flourishes” (Reference: Mudejar Ornament in Manuscripts, by Frances Spalding, p. 4, Hispanic Society of America, 1953,).  Aside from the pen a sizable amount of talent was also required to produce this amazing fluid puzzle design!

The knot-work “M” begins: “Magnus sanctus…” (The great Saint Paul, the vessel of election, is indeed worthy to be glorified).

The elaborate puzzle initial begins The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary “Recordare mei…” (Remember me and visit me…).

Antiphonals contain chants for the canonical hours of Divine Office: first vespers or the vigil of great feasts, matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, vespers & compline.As is usual with Medieval and Renaissance parchment, the hair side of the leaf is darker than the flesh side, but may take ink somewhat better.  The differences in tone caused scribes to arrange their quires so that the hair side of one sheet faced the hair side of the next, and the flesh side faced the flesh side.

Shipped unmatted


  • Inventory Number: IM-12623